News Roundup and Notes: July 6, 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.

IRAQ and SYRIA

An Iraqi jet accidentally bombed Baghdad today, killing at least 12 people; military sources cited a technical failure which caused the plane to malfunction and drop the bomb. [AP]

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. The U.S. and coalition military forces conducted a string of air strikes on Islamic State targets in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa this weekend; some 16 airstrikes were reported late Saturday and early Sunday. [AP]  The strikes killed at least 30 people, including six civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [AFP]

Syrian army forces and Hezbollah fighters pushed into the Syrian border town of Zabadani yesterday, part of an ongoing offensive intended to bolster control of routes between Lebanon and Syria, reports Anne Bernard. [New York Times]

ISIS militants and suicide bombers attacked the Iraqi refinery town of Baiji on Saturday night, pushing the army and Shi’ite militia fighters back, according to military and local sources. [Reuters]

The U.K.’s defense secretary, Michael Fallon urged lawmakers to reconsider airstrikes against ISIS targets inside of Syria, during a speech to Parliament last week, saying that the extremist group needs to be targeted “at source.” [BBC]  Shashank Joshi argues for why such an approach by the British would be a “futile gesture” in the fight against the Islamic State, in an op-ed for The Guardian.

A parallel women’s network exists within the Islamic State that is responsible for recruitment, retention, intelligence and sexual slavery, it has been revealed by Umm Sayyaf, the captured wife of ISIS commander, Abu Sayyaf, who was killed by U.S. troops in May. Nancy A. Youssef and Shane Harris provide further details on the information reportedly revealed by Sayyaf in captivity. [The Daily Beast]

IRAN

Several “difficult issues” remain to be resolved in order to seal a nuclear accord with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry warned yesterday, reiterating that the U.S. was prepared to walk away if Iran proves “intransigent” ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. Both Iran and the U.S. stated that advances had been made on two contentious points: the speed of sanctions relief for Iran and a UN investigation into reports of secretive nuclear weapon development by Tehran over recent decades. [Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman and Jay Solomon; New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and Thomas Erdbrink]

The Obama administration is engaged in the “final round in the public relations battle” to sell the nuclear accord to Congress and the American population; Dan De Luce looks at the challenges that lie ahead for the White House in bringing a deal back to Washington. [Foreign Policy]

Newly developed surveillance and nuclear verification technologies may ensure a nuclear deal with Iran sticks. Tim Mak discusses the “array of gadgetry” available to the IAEA to detect if Iran is straying from its obligations. [The Daily Beast]

“[I]t is Khamenei who has been the guardian angel for Iran’s nuclear negotiators for the past 18 months.” Omid Memarian outlines the balance Iran’s Supreme Leader has struck between “appeas[ing] the hardliners” and “consistently” reopening the door to negotiations. [Politico Magazine]

SURVEILLANCE, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

The NSA spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff along with other senior government officials, WikiLeaks documents released Saturday suggest. [USA Today’s Yamiche Alcindor]  WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, Julian Assange said the American wiretapping practices have not been suspended and that the spying was “routine.” [BBC]

Hacking Team, the controversial Italian surveillance company, has had its systems breached and up to 500 GB of client files made publicly available for download. It is as yet unclear who was responsible for the hack. The Hacking Team sells powerful surveillance tools to governments and law enforcement agencies; leaked documents show that their clients include regimes in Sudan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia despite denials by the company. [Motherboard’s Lorenzo Frencheschi-Bicchieri; International Business Times’ David Gilbert]

Hillary Clinton accused China of “trying to hack into everything,” stealing massive amounts of government data in an attempt to gain any advantage, speaking at a campaign stop on Sunday. [The Hill’s Jonathan Easley]  The Chinese have since downplayed the accusations. [Reuters]  The Washington Post editorial board calls the OPM hack a “breach too far,” suggesting President Obama should put the Chinese on notice that the attack is “inconsistent with harmony” ahead of the summit between the two countries’ presidents in September.

EGYPT

Military airstrikes and ground operations in North Sinai yesterday killed 63 militants, according to security forces, the latest effort by Egypt to put down the escalating insurgency in the region. And, 12 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested on Sunday, according to the country’s interior minister; the Brotherhood has been accused of links to the terrorist attacks in Sinai. [Reuters]

A new Egyptian law which would penalize publication of “false news or data about any terrorist operations that contradict official statements” is pending approval. [The Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley and Manu Abdo]  The legislation has been criticized as an attack on free speech, with President Sisi comparing the media to a “fourth generation of warfare.” [New York Times’ Kareem Fahim]

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope that the U.S. would engage in respectful and productive dialogue with Moscow, emphasizing the importance of U.S.-Russian relations in resolving global crises, during a congratulatory message to President Obama on American Independence Day. [Reuters]

“Hybrid warfare” is the new Russian threat to America, consisting of unconventional warfare, local militant recruitment and global propaganda, as illustrated by the annexation of the Crimea and the ongoing situation in eastern Ukraine, according to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. [Washington Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A deal on a humanitarian ceasefire is expected shortly, according to Yemen’s exiled government, as airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition resulted in the deaths of at least 30 people. [Reuters‘ Sami Aboudi and Mohammed Mukhashaf]

A state of emergency was declared in Tunisia on Saturday, the country’s government promising new legislation to bolster police powers and increase penalties for terrorism convictions in the wake of the recent attack on a Sousse beach. [AP]

Tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London. The Independent’s Paul Gallagher looks at whether the terror attacks rendered Britain an “altered state.”

Explosions at a mosque and a restaurant in the Nigerian city of Jos last night killed at least 44 people, said authorities. Boko Haram is blamed for the attack although the group has not yet claimed responsibility. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks over recent days which have resulted in a death toll of over 200 people. [BBC]

Senator John McCain has called for a “reassessment’ of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, citing ongoing security concerns including the ISIS threat. [The Hill’s Mark Hensch]

An American soldier admitted to accepting bribes from vendors seeking contracts while serving at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, according to prosecutors. [Reuters’ Steve Bittenbender]

The “Kafkaesque life of a terror suspect” in Britain. Ian Cobain writes on the impact of counterterrorism legislation on those subject to its “extraordinary restrictions.” [The Guardian]

Internet sites would be required to report content posted by suspected terrorists to federal authorities under a measure contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, approved this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. [Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima]

India is progressing in the development of its weaponized drone fleet, reports The Diplomat’s Saurav Jha.

Almost 1,400 North Koreans died in public executions between 2000 and 2013, according to a white paper produced by the Korean Institute for National Unification. [Daily NK’s Kim Seong Hwan]

New research suggests Western forces were aware of plans for a Srebrenica massacre, according to The Guardian’s Florence Hartmann and Ed Vulliamy. 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security

Sarika Arya

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