News Roundup and Notes: July 28, 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

NATO has offered Turkey political support in its fight against militants in Syria and Iraq, following an emergency meeting. The Turkish President has indicated the alliance had a “duty” to take a more intensive role. [Reuters’ Robin Emmott and Nick Tattersall]

Syrian Kurds accused Turkey of bombing their positions; the fighters are allied with the US, adding complications to US-Turkish cooperation in the war against ISIS. [Wall Street Journal’s Emre Peker and Ayla Albayrak]

A gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey was sabotaged late yesterday, the Turkish energy minister has said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which is reported to have the hallmarks of the PKK, whose camps Turkey has been bombing in northern Iraq. [Reuters’ Orhan Coskun]

Crucial government-held territory in northwestern Syria is under threat, as insurgents reportedly undertook a sweeping offensive of the area. [Reuters’ Tom Perry]

The ISIS-free zone planned by the US and Turkey may provide a safe haven for civilians fleeing the conflict. [Reuters’ Nick Tattersall and Phil Stewart]

Russia appears to be reassessing its support for the Assad regime, with opposition leaders saying that Moscow is showing more willingness to consider alternatives to Assad, despite having proved one of Syria’s “staunchest allies,” report Sam Dagher and Thomas Grove. [Wall Street Journal]

The existence of the Islamic State is a result of the international community’s failure to take action against the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour yesterday.

US cooperation with Kurdish forces in Syria is complicated by Turkey’s decision to open two fronts, one against ISIS and the other against the PKK. [Al-Monitor’s Metin Gurcan]

The Washington Post editorial board suggests that the US is continuing to “half-step” on Syria, and what is still lacking is a coherent American strategy for bringing the Syrian civil conflict to an end.

IRAN

President Obama is yet to hear a good argument against the Iran deal, he said during an appearance in Ethiopia yesterday, criticizing the rhetoric of certain GOP candidates as “outrageous” and “sad.” [CNN’s Jim Acosta and Tom LoBianco]

The Obama administration may not be “sidelining” Congress by first going through the UN Security Council for its endorsement of the deal, contrary to GOP criticism, as it is the same approach that was taken by George H. W. Bush and James Baker in order to build support for kicking Iraq out of Kuwait, writes Derek Chollet. [Foreign Policy]

France is now “confronted by an awkward dilemma,” following the conclusion of the Iran deal, writes John Vinocur, asking how do the “French get a shot at the big-bucks contracts a sanctions-free Iran will be signing after France’s years of self-portrayal as the … man willing to block Iranian nukes?” [Wall Street Journal]

Warmer relations between the US and Iran could be leveraged to stabilize the Middle East, but skepticism over Iran’s willingness to adopt a more moderate foreign policy remains. [Politico’s Michael Crowley]

“The rut of history: It is a phrase worth pondering.” Leon Wieseltier considers whether the Obama administration is too focused on new beginnings at the expense of recognizing “enduring enmities.” [The Atlantic]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israeli forces fired at Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, where clashes occurred during the Israeli commemoration of a Jewish holiday. Around 30 Palestinians were injured and at least three detained. [Al Jazeera’s Dalia Hatuqa]

Israel identified two Palestinian men as “wanted terrorists” who were plotting attacks; one was arrested and the other was killed while being chased by Israeli security forces. The precise details of his death were under dispute. [New York Times’ Diaa Hadid]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The NSA will destroy telephone records that it collected from millions of Americans over almost 10 years, following the implementation of a new surveillance law and the resolution of pending litigation, the Office of National Intelligence said yesterday. [Wall Street Journal’s Damian Paletta]  More at the Intercept.

The FBI is apprehending suspected ISIS sympathizers soon after they come onto their radar, a strategy criticized for jeopardizing criminal cases and losing opportunities to gather greater intelligence. [New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt]

To counter radicalization, prayer groups in some Australian public schools will be audited, but it remained unclear whether the policy would affect all religious groups or just Islamic ones. [AP]

The faltering of the Saudi-led ceasefire in Yemen has delayed delivery of humanitarian aid, leaving nearly 13 million Yemenis in need of food. [New York Times’ Kareem Fahim]

President Obama discussed the future of South Sudan at a meeting with regional leaders in Ethiopia. [New York Times’ Peter Baker and Marc Santora]

Pakistan claimed to confirm Indian espionage in Kashmir after retrieving data from a drone that it had shot down in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. [Wall Street Journal’s Qasim Nauman]

Secretary of State John Kerry travels to the Middle East next week for talks on ISIS and the Iran deal. While in Qatar, he will meet on these issues with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. [Reuters’ David Brunnstorm]

The New York Times erroneously suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was under criminal investigation for her use of private email; she was actually facing a “security referral.” [CNN’s Charles Riley]  The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau itemizes the latest developments in the controversy.  The issue of Clinton using private servers to transfer information has been blown out of proportion, argues the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus.

The State Department will release 5,000 pages of documents to the Benghazi Committee, in exchange for rescheduling of testimony by one of Secretary Kerry’s top aides. [The Hill’s Julian Hattem]

A proposal to close Guantánamo has been completed, which includes plans for nearly half of detainees to be transferred to other countries. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]

An alleged “terrorist attack” killed two policemen in Bahrain, a few days after the government claimed it had intercepted a plot to smuggle weapons from Iran. [Al Jazeera]

A Libyan court sentenced Muammar Gaddafi’s son to death for war crimes committed during the 2011 revolution. Saif al-Islam is being held by a former rebel group and is also wanted by the International Criminal Court. [BBC] 

Filed under:
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).