News Roundup and Notes: June 29, 2015

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.

TUNISIA ATTACK

A gunman killed at least 39 people, mainly tourists, on a beach at a Sousse resort in Tunisia on Friday. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. [BBC; New York Times’ Farah Samti and Carlotta Gall] The Tunisian interior minister said authorities were “sure” the gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, had accomplices, as Tunisian police launched a nationwide search for anyone who may have assisted in the attack. [Al Jazeera]

The majority of those killed in the attack were British. U.K. authorities have heightened security measures at British airports in one of the biggest counterterrorism operations since the London bombings in 2005. [The Guardian’s Robert Booth et al] U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron described the fight against the Islamic State as the “struggle of our generation”, and pledged a “full spectrum” response, in the wake of the massacre. [BBC; The Telegraph’s Raziye Akkoc]

FRANCE ATTACK

French authorities are investigating a potential Syrian connection in Friday’s attack on a U.S.-owned industrial gas plant near Lyon. Lead suspect, Yassin Salhi, yesterday admitted responsibility for the attack in which his manager was decapitated. [France 24] Salhi claimed the attack was driven by personal tensions between him and his boss and not terrorism, though police officers emphasized elements of the attack that showed terrorism intent. [Wall Street Journal’s Inti Landauro]

Salhi sent a photo of himself with the victim’s head to a Canadian telephone number, which is being investigated, a French official said yesterday. [New York TimesAlissa J. Rubin and Aurelien Breeden]

European countries are re-enforcing counterterrorism security in response to the attacks committed Friday. Spain’s terror-alert level has been elevated from medium to high. [Wall Street Journal’s Richard Boudreaux]

KUWAIT ATTACK

The man responsible for Friday’s suicide attack on a Kuwaiti mosque has been identified as a Saudi Arabian national linked to ISIS, who arrived in Kuwait shortly before the bombing.  [New York Times’ Ben Hubbard]  Two individuals thought to have provided assistance in the attack have been arrested. [Reuters’ Ahmed Hagagy]

The attack has reinvigorated Western concerns that Gulf nations like Kuwait are not doing enough to curb grassroots support of terrorism. [Wall Street Journal’s Maria Abi-Habib and Rory Jones]

IRAQ and SYRIA

Turkey intends to deploy troops to Syria, according to reports, in an apparent effort to set up a buffer zone that will prevent Syrian Kurds from establishing a state in northern Syria. [The Daily Beast’s Thomas Seibert]

The U.S. suspects the Assad regime may launch a chemical weapons attack in a final attempt to safeguard government strongholds in Syria, according to American officials briefed on the issue. [Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous]

Fears over the Islamic State’s expanding influence have deepened in light of the three attacks on Friday in France, Kuwait, and Tunisia, with experts and officials linking the assaults to the terrorist group’s “chaotic and violent agenda.” [Washington Post’s Greg Miller]

The New York Times looks at how ISIS recruits members around the world, in an in-depth video from Poh Si Teng and Ben Laffin. 

IRAN

The nuclear talks will likely miss their June 30 deadline, a senior U.S. official said yesterday. [AP’s George Jahn]

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif left the weekend talks on Sunday, and will reportedly return to Vienna on June 30. Laura Rozen explores the changing explanations for Zarif’s trip to Tehran. [Al-Monitor’s Back Channel]

Politically difficult questions remain to be resolved. David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon report on the obstacles to achieving a comprehensive deal. [New York Times] And Michael Crowley details the five key areas of disagreement between the parties. [Politico]

Special interest groups invested in the outcome of the negotiations are ramping up lobbying efforts in Vienna this week. [AP] 

A series of secret U.S.-Iran exchanges built the groundwork for the nuclear negotiations. Jay Solomon reports on the years of clandestine messages between the countries, starting in late 2009, facilitated by Oman. [Wall Street Journal]

Tehran has “the upper hand” in the negotiations, former CIA Director Michael Hayden warned on Fox News Sunday.

The economic gains from the deal for Tehran will facilitate the regime’s “imperial surge,” writes Ray Takeyh in a Washington Post opinion piece.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israeli soldiers intercepted a Swedish vessel carrying activists and aid to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli maritime blockade early today. The interception was peaceful and the vessel has been redirected to an Israeli port at Ashdod. [Haaretz’s Gili Cohen et al]

The EU must respect its obligations under domestic and international law and refrain from supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in any way, argues Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat at The Guardian.

The Israeli cabinet approved legislation allowing for court-ordered force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike earlier this month, which Israeli doctors plan to protest if enforced. Israeli officials point to the American practice at Guantanamo Bay for legitimacy. [Washington Post’s William Booth]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

At least 11 Afghan soldiers have died and six injured in clashes with the Taliban in Herat province this morning, the latest in a string of Taliban ambushes against security forces. [BBC]

The discovery of CIA photographs depicting “black sites” will likely cause further delay at Guantanamo’s military commissions, and casts doubt on CIA cooperation with prosecutors. The Washington Post’s Adam Goldman provides more details.

Shi’ite Houthi rebels have withdrawn some troops from Aden to reinforce positions in other parts of the country, including Sana’a and northern Saada province, to counter volunteer fighters loyal to exiled President Hadi. [Asharq Al-Awsat]

Senior Saudi officials were allegedly in contact with the terrorist Haqqani network in Afghanistan, according to documents recently released by WikiLeaks. [Wall Street Journal’s Saeed Shah]

The FAA is spearheading an initiative to develop cybersecurity defense for American airlines. [Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pasztor]

The DoD’s “fight over fighting China.” Mark Perry discusses the internal battle between the Joint Chiefs in settling on an “ambitious new war plan.” [Politico Magazine]

Dutch law enforcement has been blocked by Russian-backed separatists in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine from conducting an investigation into the downing of a Malaysian jet almost a year ago, according to the Dutch public prosecutor on Saturday. [New York Times’ David M. Herszenhorn

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About the Author(s)

Ruchi Parekh

Former Associate Editor at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@RParekh88).

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security

Sarika Arya

Former Summer Fellow at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@sarika_arya).