News Roundup and Notes: July 16, 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

President Obama press conference on nuclear deal. Obama answered wide-ranging questions, defending his administration’s historic deal with Iran yesterday. The news conference marks the start of the White House’s “aggressive effort” to combat critics over the next 60 days. [New York Times’ Gardiner Harris and Michael D. Shear]  The president criticized naysayers like Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and certain Republicans, suggesting they have failed to put forward a viable alternative. [Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee et al]  Obama also defended the deal’s omission of any mention of U.S. detainees in Iran and Iranian terrorism, saying the parameters of the agreement were narrow. [Foreign Policy’s Paul McCleary] 

A draft UN Security Council resolution was circulated by the United States yesterday, endorsing the nuclear agreement. The resolution would facilitate any one of the P5 to use its veto to reinstate sanctions against Iran if it is seen to be violating the deal, said a U.S. official. [Wall Street Journal’s Joe Lauria] The agreement is expected to be unanimously endorsed within days. [New York Times’ Somini Sengupta]

The White House is lobbying Democrats and Independents, trying to garner their support for the nuclear agreement, to preserve President Obama’s most significant diplomatic achievement. [New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman]

Defense Secretary Ash Carter will travel to Saudi Arabia with the aim of achieving the support of America’s sceptical Gulf allies following the conclusion of the nuclear accord. [Reuters’ Jeff Mason]  A former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, said that the deal will “wreak havoc on the region,” in a piece published in Lebanon’s Daily Star today. [Reuters]

Iran will not be able to avoid inspections of sites deemed suspicious by Washington or others once the nuclear agreement goes into effect, according to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, in an interview with Reuters’ Jeff Mason.

The final 17 days of talks in Vienna were marked by “standoffs, trade-offs, shouts and confrontations,” write David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon, detailing the “painstaking” process involved in reaching the final agreement. [New York Times]

Iraqi authorities are embracing the Iran deal, hopeful that it will ease friction between the country’s two key allies: the U.S. and Iran, reports Loveday Morris. [Washington Post]

“Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off” with Iran, and no deal would have satisfied Tel Aviv, said the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond to Parliament yesterday. [Jerusalem Post]

Five months should be sufficient time to investigate and report on Iran’s past nuclear efforts, though the project is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, according to Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA. [Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman]

The nuclear accord needs “careful scrutiny,” according to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his first comments after the announcement of the deal. [New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink] 

Thawing ties with Iran will be a complicated matter for the EU, reports Laurence Norman, pointing to the barriers facing political engagement. [Wall Street Journal]

The Obama administration should “now seek to justify the deal exclusively on narrow national security grounds,” argues James P. Rubin, in order to maximize congressional and international support for the deal. [New York Times]

The agreement is a “very good deal for Iran,” writes Frederick Kagan in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, outlining the elements of the accord which will work in Iran’s favor.

The next president will have “fewer and worse options” on Iran; David Frum considers the things which could be done in the future to improve and tweak a bad deal. [Defense One]

Anti-Americanism is “at a ‘dead end’ in Iran,” and despite protest from hardliners, the deal will in the long run put Iran in a better position socially, politically and economically. Maysam Behravesh interviews Sadegh Zibakalam, Iran’s preeminent public intellectual. [The Guardian]

IRAQ and SYRIA

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. The U.S. and coalition military forces carried out 16 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 14. Separately, military forces conducted a further 17 strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

Syria is disintegrating and on the verge of collapse, given the inability of warring factions to secure substantial power. The New York Times’ Anne Barnard provides in-depth analysis.

ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was likely in Raqqa, said U.S. officials tracking developing intelligence on ISIS leadership. [CNN’s Barbara Starr]

Two missiles fell off a British fighter jet returning from an anti-ISIS mission to a military base in Cyprus. Officials stated there was “no risk” and that the missiles were being recovered from the runway. [NBC’s Alexander Smith]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

IDF planes struck Gaza “terror infrastructure” in response to a rocket fired from Gaza into the Israeli city of Ashkelon. [Haaretz’s Shirley Seidler] There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. [AP] Hamas officials stated the Israeli strikes hit one of its training sites and a “communications center.” [AFP]

President Obama will bolster military aid to Israel, amid tense relations in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. [New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matthew Rosenberg]

Five Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank in relation to a fatal shooting of Israeli hikers. [New York Times’ Diaa Hadid]

Palestinian Authority officials arrested a number of Hamas supporters in the West Bank, undermining plans for political reconciliation. [Al Monitor’s Rasha Abou Jalal]

Israel will mark a decade since its disengagement from Gaza next week, amidst ambivalence over whether the withdrawal has been effective in progressing peace. [Al-Monitor’s Shlomi Eldar]

Elite Israeli commandos assassinated Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman in 2008, according to classified NSA documents revealed by Edward Snowden. [The Intercept’s Matthew Cole]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

American airstrikes against ISIS in Afghanistan have intensified, despite the announcement of the end of the American combat mission six month ago. [New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein]

Russia criticized calls for an international tribunal to prosecute the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine as “untimely and counterproductive.” Results of a Dutch-led investigation into the incident will be released this year. [NBC’s Alastair Jamieson]

Exiled Yemeni government officials returned to the Yemeni city of Aden for the first time in months, following gains by local fighters. [Reuters, AFP]

Four Pakistani civilians were killed and five wounded in artillery fire in Kashmir, on the Indian border amid heightened tensions between the countries. Pakistani officials blamed India, but there was no immediate comment from the Indian army. [AP’s Asif Shahzad]

France detained four terrorism suspects who were allegedly planning attacks against “military installations.” [CNN’s Jethro Mullen]

China detained a group of foreign terrorists for watching “terrorist propaganda videos,” amid growing security concerns over Islamic extremism. [New York Times’ Andrew Jacobs]

G7 security officials met with the Tunisian government to provide assistance with crafting the country’s counterterrorism policy. [New York Times’ Carlotta Gall]

New Japanese legislation could send troops abroad to fight for the first time since World War II, and was met with strong protest from those who fear entanglement in U.S.-led conflicts. Japan has been strengthening its security stance in recent months. [Reuters] 

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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).