News Roundup and Notes: July 17, 2015

IRAN

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s response to the deal has been described as “cold.” In a letter to Iran’s president, Khamenei thanked him for his work on the negotiations, but added that Iran should be “concerned about possible violations of the commitments in the accord by other parties.” [New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink]

Many Americans seem to be relatively unaware of the nuclear deal or even of the politics related Iran more generally. Seventy-five percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot locate the country on a map, writes Adam Wren. [Politico]

Wikileaks has released thousands of Saudi documents that provide an in depth look at the country’s efforts over the years to undermine Iran. [New York Times’ Ben Hubbard and Mayy el Sheikh]

A major question in the wake of the nuclear deal is whether the international community has the ability to successfully monitory and verify Iran’s compliance. Administration officials say that changes in technology and increased support from various governments will enable the International Atomic Energy Agency to more closely monitor developments in Iran. [Al-Monitor]

There were alternative approaches to securing a nuclear deal with Iran. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board slammed the President’s handling of Iran negotiations, arguing that “coercive diplomacy … might have worked to get a better deal if Mr. Obama had tried it.”

The Iran deal should be judged based on what it aimed at achieving, namely preventing a nuclear Iran, not whether it brings broader changes to the country, writes Roger Cohen. [New York Times]

The nuclear deal may create short-term escalations in violence in the Middle East, raising particular concerns about increased security threats in Israel and Saudi Arabia, argues Karen Elliott House. [Wall Street Journal]

The real question lawmakers should be addressing is how to contain Iran’s meddling in the Middle East, argues David Ignatius in a Washington Post op-ed. Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria writes that there are many factors at play that will affect how Iran changes in the wake of the nuclear deal.

Several senators have told President Obama he should not present a draft UN resolution that would alter international sanctions in Iran until after Congress has reviewed the deal, writes [The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney]

CHATTANOOGA SHOOTINGS

A gunman opened fire at two military facilities, killing four and injuring three Marines in Chattanooga yesterday. The gunman later died from a gunshot wound. [Wall Street Journal’s Cameron McWhirter, Devlin Barrett, and Dion Nissenbaum]

The shooting is being investigated for links to terrorism, though officials have been careful to say they do not have enough information to say anything definitive yet. [Washington Post’s Adam Goldman, Greg Miller and Thomas Gibbons-Neff]

The mosque the shooter previously attended is in mourning for the Marines killed, canceling an Eid al-Fitr celebration scheduled for Friday. [New York Times’ Richard Fausset]

IRAQ and SYRIA

UK pilots have conducted airstrikes in Syria. Despite a 2013 vote by Parliament against UK military involvement in Syria, it has emerged that personnel embedded with coalition forces have participated in airstrikes in the country. [Guardian’s Josh Halliday]

“Wasn’t ISIS supposed to fall apart by now?” asks Jamie Dettmer. As the US refocuses its efforts on mapping families and clans in parts of Syria in the hopes of separating the Islamic State from its supporters, there are rising questions about the military’s tactics against the group. [Daily Beast]

Thousands of civilians are caught between Iraqi forces preparing to recapture Falluja and members of the Islamic State who have shown a willingness to use human shields. [Reuters’ Dominic Evans and Isabel Coles]

A British medic recruited at least 16 of his fellow students in Sudan to join the Islamic State over the last year. [BBC’s Daniel Sandford & Steve Swann]

A Canadian-born Israeli woman has returned from joining a Kurdish militia to fight the Islamic State. Among the first female volunteers to fight in the Syrian civil war, Gill Rosenberg spent eight months fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. [Associated Press’ Miriam Berger]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and coalition military forces carried out 15 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 15. Separately, military forces conducted a further 16 strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Judges of the International Criminal Court asked the chief prosecutor to review her decision not to investigate the Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships trying to deliver aid in 2010. The raid led to the deaths of nine people. [New York Times’ Marlise Simons and Rick Gladstone]

The Israeli army is planning to build a “much larger” fence on the Gaza-Israel border to prevent people from climbing the wall, according to a senior Israel Defense Force officer. [Haaretz’s Gili Cohen]

Leaders of Hamas met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and senior Saudi leaders, in what may signal the start of a thawing of relations between the Iran-allied organization and Saudi Arabia. [Reuters]

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

There are early indications that the Islamic State is starting to move into Russia and linking up with Russian extremists, according to a retired US Air Force colonel. [Fox News’ Christopher Snyder]

It is the one-year anniversary of the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine. Relatives and friends in Australia mark the occasion. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Peta Donald] There were also ceremonies to mark the anniversary in Ukraine. [Wall Street Journal’s James Marson]

At the crash site, Russian soldiers were seen preparing a picnic in the debris field. [Daily Beast’s Anna Nemtsova]

There are rising calls for a UN-backed international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the plane crash, including from British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. [Al Jazeera]

There is evidence that the flight was shot down by either Russian soldiers or Russian-backed fighters in Ukraine. Though the official investigative report has yet to be released, James Miller and Michael Weiss look at the available evidence. [Daily Beast]

YEMEN

Militias backed by Saudi Arabia, special forces from the United Arab Emirates, and al-Qaeda militants all fought on the same side to oust Houthi rebels from Aden, Yemen’s second city, this week. [Wall Street Journal’s Maria Abi-Habib and Mohammed al-Kibsi]

Yemen’s exiled government has said that Aden is now under the control of Saudi-backed fighters and that the Houthi militia has been forced to abandon nearly 90 percent of the city. [Reuters’ Mohammed Mukhashaf]

CYBERSECURITY

A British man accused of hacking into US government computer networks to steal sensitive information has been arrested in England. Lauri Love has been charged with hacking into various agencies, including the US Army, NASA, the Federal Reserve, and the Environmental Protection Agency. [Associated Press]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking whether the US government’s contracts with Hacking Team broke federal laws that forbid the government from doing business with companies that conduct restricted business with Sudan. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A judge has ordered the CIA to release documents related to the agency’s killing of US citizen Anwar al Aulaqi, according to the ACLU and Just Security’s Jameel Jaffer.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that negotiations with the Taliban is the only way to “end the bloodshed.” [Associated Press]

The United States plans to expand its military assistance to Nigeria to help fight Boko Haram in the country. [Foreign Policy’s Dan de Luce and Siobhan O’Grady]

Most of the United States’ “greatest national security threats come from places where people’s rights are being ignored,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. [The Hill‘s Hannah Kreuger]

Japan’s top military commander said he expect China’s territorial expansion in South China Sea to “worsen.” The island nation may conduct surveillance patrols to monitor Chinese military activity in sea. [Reuters]

Pakistan Claims to have downed an Indian military drone, but photos of the supposed Indian craft show a small civilian drone, raising doubts about the veracity of the claim writes Foreign Policy‘s Siobhan O’Grady.

The White House has yet to come up with a plan to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite a May pledge to Sen. John McCain to do so. [The Hill‘s Martin Matishak] 

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About the Author(s)

Megan Graham

Former Assistant Managing Editor and Security, Privacy, and Technology Fellow at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@meganmcgraham).

Sarika Arya

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