News Roundup and Notes: July 7, 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.

IRAN

Nuclear talks deadline may again be missed. Negotiators have conceded the possibility that the self-imposed July 7 deadline for talks between six world powers and Tehran may be missed, however western officials still hope to have a deal by the “drop-dead date” of July 9. [Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen]

Iran’s delegation is insisting that it is not bound by the timetable requiring a deal be reached by July 9 at the latest. A senior Iranian official said:

We do not see any definite deadline. July 7, July 8 or July 9 – we do not consider these dates as dates we have to finish our job. Even if we do not finish by July 9, it will not be the end of the world. We need to get a good agreement.

The American delegation faces considerable pressure to conclude a deal by Thursday; if they succeed in doing so Congress will only have 30 days to review any agreement, if that deadline is missed however, Congress gets another 30 days. [The Guardian’s Julian Borger]

Iran wants UN sanctions on the country’s ballistic missile program lifted, as well as a broader arms embargo, requests for which western negotiators have “no appetite.” The dispute is among the final issues holding up the conclusion of a nuclear deal. [Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon; Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi and Louis Charbonneau]

The conclusion of the Iran talks is being seen by a “gateway,” by White House officials, for Obama to shift his Middle East policy for the remaining 18 months of his term, including pushing for a political solution in Syria that involves the exit of Iranian-ally, President Bashar al-Assad. [Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee and Adam Entous]

The IAEA’s “nuclear sleuths” are readying themselves ahead of a possible nuclear deal on Iran’s nuclear program in the coming days; David E. Sanger and William J. Broad detail the “overwhelm[ing]” task of monitoring the country’s nuclear infrastructure. [New York Times]

IRAQ and SYRIA

Obama addresses ISIS strategy. Speaking during a visit to the Pentagon yesterday, President Obama said “this will not be quick” of the campaign to defeat the terrorist group, and vowed to increase U.S. support of the moderate opposition in Syria. The president emphasized the need to do more to prevent attacks on U.S. soil and to counter recruitment efforts by the Islamic State. [Reuters; NPR]

ISIS regained territory from Kurdish forces yesterday, storming a Syrian town close to Raqqa, part of a wider response by the militant group to intense U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeting the city over the weekend. [Reuters]

A suicide bomb attack on a Syrian Army outpost in Aleppo killed at least 25 soldiers and allied militia fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The monitoring group said the Nusra Front was responsible for the attack. [Reuters]

Recent losses suffered by ISIS in Syria have “exposed vulnerabilities in the ranks of the militants – and also the limits of the U.S.-led strategy devised to confront them,” writes Liz Sly. [Washington Post]

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of recruiting young girls and teenagers to send to join ISIS in Syria by police in Spain. [AP]

The threat posed by the Islamic State is “exaggerated;” Al Jazeera looks “behind the sensationalism” of the group’s propaganda and “Western punditry fears” of a complete takeover by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

SURVEILLANCE

The “possibility exists” for the Justice Department to make a deal with NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, according to former-Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking in an interview with Yahoo News, adding that the Snowden disclosures had “spurred a necessary debate” around the bulk collection of phone records. However, a spokesperson for incumbent Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that the U.S. position on his case “has not changed,” reports Michael Isikoff.

The Hacking Team has maintained a multi-year relationship with the FBI and DEA, a security breach of the controversial Italian surveillance company has exposed. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett]  Motherboard’s Joshua Kopstein has compiled a list of the government agencies to whom Hacking Team has sold their surveillance tools.

YEMEN

Airstrikes killed at least 176 people in Yemen on Monday, as the Saudi-led coalition ramped up attacks in its campaign against Houthi rebels. [Reuters]  The escalated offensive is likely to hinder efforts to broker a humanitarian truce, being pushed for by the UN, report Sami Aboudi and Mohammed Mukhashaf. [Reuters]

“Because these deaths of innocents are at the hands of the U.S. government and its despotic allies,” they will be largely ignored by American media, argues Glenn Greenwald, suggesting that this is “how the American self-perception as perpetual victims of terrorism, but never its perpetrator, is sustained.” [The Intercept]

ISIS in Yemen is being led by a Saudi national known as Abu Bilal al-Harbi, Buzzfeed News has learned. Gregory D. Johnsen details the development of the Islamic State in Yemen, and the threat it poses to AQAP.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 bombings. Fifty-two people were killed when four suicide bombers attacked central London. It was the worst single terrorist attack on British soil. [BBC]  Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that the terrorism threat is still “as real as it is deadly.”  Ewan MacAskill and Ian Cobain look at the far reaching reforms of the U.K.’s security services following the attack, and consider whether Britain is safer as a result. [The Guardian]

A NATO convoy has been targeted by a suicide car bomber in the Afghan capital of Kabul today, wounding at least three people. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. [Al Jazeera]  A second attack was launched by insurgents hours later, a police spokesperson reporting that gunfire and an explosion had taken place in the east of the city. [Reuters]

An attack on quarry workers in the north of Kenya has left at least 14 people dead, say officials. Al-Shabaab is suspected of being behind the attack. [Al Jazeera]

“The west is too paranoid about Russia’s information war,” argues Mark Galeotti, suggesting that despite the Kremlin’s efforts it is running a “clumsy” campaign. [The Moscow Times] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security