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.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, and are expected to be pressed for information by lawmakers skeptical of the agreement. It is the first public appearance of this nature made by the officials since the conclusion of the agreement on July 14. [Reuters’ Patricia Zangerle and Idrees Ali] Jonathan Weisman provides details of the “extraordinary showdown” between the deal’s proponents and its critics. [New York Times]
A “trickle of Democratic support” has begun to emerge, and while many remain undecided, aides and lawmakers do not believe that a sufficient number of Democrats would reject the deal to override the president’s veto. [Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Peterson and Carol E. Lee]
Defense Secretary Ash Carter pledged to work with Saudi Arabia in order to contain the military ambitions of Iran in the Middle East. [Washington Post’s Missy Ryan] The US is portraying the Saudis as relatively accepting of the accord; following their meeting in Jeddah yesterday it was said that the kingdom supported the deal albeit with some reservations relating to implementation. [Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous]
The Iran deal is “based on verification, not trust.” Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz make the case for the nuclear accord, in an op-ed at the Washington Post.
The Israeli ambassador to the US criticized the Iran deal during a speech to conservative congressional Republicans, saying it endangered Israel. [Politico’s Lauren French]
The world community is guaranteeing the establishment of a new Iranian nuclear program, “immeasurably more dangerous than its predecessor,” argues Ari Shavit at Haaretz.
“Afghanistan will immensely benefit” from the restoration of Iran’s role as a “responsible and secure neighbor and power,” argues Davood Moradian. [Al Jazeera]
The Washington Post filed a UN Human Rights Council petition on behalf of one of its journalists detained in Iran, which the paper’s Executive Editor has called “a disgraceful violation of human rights.” [Washington Post’s Joby Warrick]
IRAQ and SYRIA
Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad today on an unannounced visit aimed at assessing Iraq’s progress in the campaign to recapture territory fallen to ISIS, particularly Ramadi, the regional capital of Anbar province. It is the defense secretary’s first visit to the country since taking office in February. [AP; Reuters] A ground assault on Ramadi could begin within two months, according to Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren who is travelling with Carter. [Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous]
Explosions across Baghdad killed at least 37 people on Wednesday, according to local police. [Al Jazeera] The Islamic State claimed responsibility for one suicide car bombing in a predominantly Shi’ite district which killed 20 people yesterday. [Reuters]
Turkish authorities identified the bomber in this week’s attack close to the Syrian border as one of the country’s citizens yesterday, heightening concerns over the threat posed by homegrown jihadists. There is evidence that Seyh Abdurrahman Alagoz had links to the Islamic State and was known to authorities. [New York Times’ Ceylan Yeginsu; Wall Street Journal’s Emre Peker]
“There is an established body of work that draws a connection between drought, resource scarcity, and conflict in general.” David D. Graham discusses the possible connections between climate change and the emergence of the Islamic State in Syria. [The Atlantic]
RUSSIA and UKRAINE
Russian bombers with nuclear capacity flew, unannounced, near US borders on Independence Day, but did not enter American airspace and were tracked by US fighter jets. The incident was described as “potentially destabilizing.” [CNN]
Ukraine may receive a longer-range radar from the Pentagon, to use for defense against Russian-backed rebels’ artillery fire. [Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes and Gordon Lubold]
Russia and the West promulgate differing narratives of the downing of MH17, exemplifying diverging political realities. [Wall Street Journal’s Alan Cullison]
Bomb attacks in northern Nigeria killed at least 59 people, and wounded 60. The attacks are believed to have been conducted by Boko Haram. The same city was rocked by explosions last Friday. [Reuters’ Ardo Abdallah] And two female suicide bombers in Cameroon killed at least 13 people; Boko Haram are again thought to be responsible. [Wall Street Journal’s Emanuel Tumanjong]
The US has “aided and abetted” Boko Haram by failing to provide arms to Nigeria, the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said. [BBC]
A five-nation African force will be deployed against Boko Haram on July 30, as violence by the ISIS-affiliated group escalates. [AFP]
The White House is in its “final stages” of drafting a proposal to close Guantánamo Bay detention facility, which remains a priority for the Obama administration who view its continued operation as an asset to terrorist propaganda. [AP] It is unclear however whether these plans will be successful, considering domestic politics, reports The Hills’ Jordan Fabian.
The UN deputy high commissioner for human rights has resigned, following admission that she had failed to investigate allegations that French soldiers had committed child sexual abuse in Central African Republic. [AP]
The African Union seized one of the last al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, in clashes that killed two Somali soldiers and 24 militants. [AP]
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank, the second such incident in two days. [Haaretz’s Gili Cohen and Jack Khoury] Israel said that soldiers were responding to a mob attack. [Reuters’ Ali Sawafta]
Houthi rebels fled their last Aden stronghold, where the palace of the exiled-Yemeni President is located. [Al Jazeera] And Yemen is running out of water, as conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels continues. [Washington Post’s Ali al-Mujahed and Hugh Naylor]
Dylan Roof has been indicted for hate crimes, accused of the racially motivated killing of nine parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. [Post and Courier’s Andrew Knapp] Jenna McLaughlin looks at why Roof has not been indicted on terrorism charges for The Intercept.
President Obama will discuss counterterrorism strategy on his trip to Kenya, and is set to become the first American President to speak to the African Union. [Reuters’ Jeff Mason]