Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
IRAQ and SYRIA
The U.S. will deploy up to 450 additional personnel to Iraq in a noncombat role to support the Iraqi counteroffensive aimed at retaking Ramadi and other areas in Anbar province under Islamic State control. The troops will use Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province as their training ground. [White House] The move “does not represent a change in mission,” the DoD noted in a statement.
The president’s decision is unlikely to result in a rapid turnaround in Iraq. The plan does not expand on the role of U.S. troops to assist on the battlefield or call in airstrikes, nor will it involve an intensified air campaign, reports Michael R. Gordon. [New York Times] Nancy A. Youssef explores the problems with the strategy, noting that it relies on the cooperation of deeply divided groups, the Sunni militias and Baghdad’s Shiite government. [The Daily Beast]
The plan suggests that the U.S. is in for a lengthy fight in Iraq, although President Obama has opted to limit American involvement thus far. [Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan] Politico’s Bryan Bender et al also discuss the president’s “Iraq quagmire”—his inability to escape from “a war he was elected to end.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board criticizes the move as “more of the half-hearted incrementalism that hasn’t worked so far.” Iraq veteran Clay Hanna is similarly critical of the “hopeless mission,” writing that the president should “either go to war, or get out.” [Politico Magazine]
“Trainers or advisers?” Politico’s Sarah Wheaton and Philip Ewing note the differences in language used by the White House and Pentagon to describe the mission.
Sens. Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine have restarted the debate on an AUMF against ISIS; their proposal is likely to be discussed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before the summer recess. [Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung]
An amendment seeking to end funding for the training program for Syrian rebels was blocked by House lawmakers yesterday. [The Hill’s Cristina Marcos]
An American man fighting alongside Kurds against ISIS has been killed in Syria, the State Department has confirmed. [NBC News’ Tracy Connor et al]
Clashes between ISIS and Hezbollah broke out yesterday along Syria’s border with Lebanon; scores of fighters have been killed and many more injured. [Al Jazeera]
Nusra Front fighters have killed at least 20 Druze civilians in a village in Idlib province, where the al-Qaeda-linked group is part of a coalition that has gained control in the region. [Reuters]
“How ISIS crippled al-Qaeda.” The Guardian takes an in-depth look at how the terrorist network has been brought to the “brink of collapse” by the rise of the Islamic State.
The Islamic State has displayed an “evolving social-political strategy.” Al Jazeera explores the group’s growing sophistication.
An Islamist coalition in Libya has pledged to defeat the Islamic State’s unit in the country, the expansion of which has worsened the crisis in Libya. [New York Times’ David D. Kirkpatrick]
Iran’s strategy in Iraq is discussed by former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who served in Baghdad, in an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish.
Turkey’s Syria policy is unlikely to change despite the power shift following last weekend’s election, reports Aaron Stein. [The Daily Beast]
SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY, and PRIVACY
Review of the U.K.’s investigatory powers published. An official report finds that powers allowing mass surveillance should be retained, but that judges should be transferred the power to issue interception warrants. The report calls for greater oversight and tighter restrictions on warrants for bulk data collection. [The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill] Cian Murphy offers a useful primer over at Just Security.
A Republican-backed bill limiting the reach of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is garnering criticism from civil liberties advocates. [The Hill’s Julian Hattem]
Republicans and Democrats are sparring over whether to include cybersecurity provisions in a defense bill. Democrats are attempting to block the measure without being seen as blocking important cybersecurity legislation. [Politico’s Seung Min Kim and Tal Kopan]
Chinese hackers may have obtained information on federal employees with connections to Chinese individuals when they breached the Office of Personnel Management’s network, raising concerns that the Chinese links could be used for retaliation. [New York Times’ David E. Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis]
The head of the U.S. Marshals Service is stepping down, amid intense criticism of the law enforcement agency for secret surveillance of Americans. [The Hill’s Julian Hattem]
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
An ICC delegation is expected to arrive in Israel this month as part of the preliminary inquiry into war crimes in the occupied territories, according to Palestinian sources. [Haaretz’s Amira Hass and Barak Ravid]
The growing boycott campaign against Israel has not yet had significant impact. The Economist comments on how Prime Minister Netanyahu has turned the campaign “to his own advantage.”
Spyware linked to Israel was found in three hotels before they hosted the Iran nuclear negotiations, a Russian cybersecurity firm has disclosed. [Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous and Danny Yadron] Israeli officials dismissed the allegations and denied that the country had played a role in the cyberattack. [Reuters’ Ari Rabinovitch]
RUSSIA and UKRAINE
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Western sanctions targeting Moscow have impacted Italy’s economy, during his visit to the country yesterday. [CNN’s Don Melvin] Putin met with the Italian prime minister and the Pope, who called on him to make a “sincere” effort in resolving the Ukrainian crisis. The New York Times’ Jim Yardley provides analysis.
The Washington Post editorial board calls on the U.S. to provide more military support to Ukraine in the conflict against Russia.
Russia is increasing its presence in the Baltic Sea, as a demonstration of its military power. The New York Times’ Andrew Higgins provides more details.
Lawyers for Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi have requested a Periodic Review Board hearing and the return of some belongings and legal papers; Slahi is the author of “Guantanamo Diary.” [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
The prosecutor in a terrorist case against an Uzbek refugee has requested the identities of FBI witnesses be concealed for safety and national security reasons. [Idaho Satesman’s John Sowell]
Egyptian authorities arrested a security guard at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on terrorist charges, without any forewarning given to American officials, shortly before yesterday’s suicide attack in Luxor. [The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer]
A suicide bomber in Pakistan’s Peshawar killed at least two policemen and injured six others; the Taliban’s Pakistan branch claimed responsibility. [Dawn’s Ali Akbar]
American aid to South Sudan has not stifled an escalating humanitarian crisis and ongoing civil war in the region, reports Heidi Vogt. [Wall Street Journal]
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