News Roundup and Notes: August 3, 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

A Syrian army warplane has crashed during bombing raids on the northwestern town of Ariha, killing 12 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [BBC]

The US will provide air support to Syrian rebels trained by the military, even if that involves air strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, US officials announced Saturday. [Reuters’ Phil Stewart]

A suicide attack in southern Turkey yesterday killed two soldiers, said local authorities. The attack was carried out by the PKK, the Kurdish militia group that Turkey has been targeting in airstrikes in northern Iraq. [New York Times’ Ceylan Yeginsu and Anne Bernard]  And the Islamic State is attempting to “woo” Kurdish fighters in Turkey; the Kurds have been the most effective force in taking on the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq. [Wall Street Journal’s Ayla Albayrak]

Turkey has denied claims that civilians were hit in the Iraqi village of Zargala during its airstrikes there, saying instead that the target was a PKK shelter. [Al Jazeera]

Iraq “may indeed be irreparably fractured and may not come back as an intact state,” said Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. [Foreign Policy’s Sean D. Naylor]

The World Food Program will make further cuts to food aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan, a sign of the mounting funding issue facing international humanitarian agencies assisting millions of Syrians displaced by the conflict. [AP’s Karin Laub]

A recent study reveals that all the players in the battle against ISIS “are competing to see who can devise the largest number of steps, and most convoluted strategy” to overcome the militant group, writes Karl Sharro for the Atlantic.

A “short history of Turkish threats to invade Syria,” from Nick Danforth at Foreign Policy.

SOS International is “one of the biggest players on the ground” in Iraq, writes Kate Brennan, profiling the private US firms reaping financial benefit from the conflict in the Middle East. [The Daily Beast]

IRAN

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the role the Iran deal will have in making the region safer, seeking to allay the fears of Egypt and other allies, during comments in Cairo at the start of his regional tour. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]  Kerry arrived in Qatar today to meet with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. [Al Jazeera]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended the nuclear accord during a live interview on state TV, describing the deal as a new “third way” for Iran’s foreign policy, a model based on “constructive cooperation” with the international community. [Reuters’ Sam Wilkin and Babak Dehghanpisheh]

The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, will privately brief members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week, following a letter requesting his appearance from all members of the committee. [Politico’s Nahal Toosi]

Supporters of the Iran deal are gaining in confidence about getting the necessary support from Democratic lawmakers to ensure the accord makes it through Congress, reports Patricia Zengerle. [Reuters]  And Chuck Schumer is yet to decide on how to vote on the deal, as signs increasingly point to his opposing it, suggest Manu Raju and Burgess Everett. [Politico]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board criticizes the Obama administration over its handling of two side agreements between Iran and the IAEA, noting that the government claims both not to have read the deals, and to know that there is nothing secret about them.  

History contradicts hopes of Iranian moderation in the aftermath of the nuclear deal, argues Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing that any “cash infusion will only stress the fault lines of Iranian society if it doesn’t foster nationwide prosperity,” at the Wall Street Journal.  

Iran has spread a fabricated WikiLeaks cable, attempting to smear the reputation of the UN special rapporteur charged with investigating the country’s human rights abuses; the cable purports to show Ahmed Shaheed accepted Saudi bribes. [The Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan]

AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan will not deal with the Taliban separately from other “armed opposition” within the state, refusing any “parallel political structure” against the Afghan government, according to a statement from President Ashraf Ghani’s office released today. [AP]

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, will now serve as the Taliban’s number two. The State Department has described the Haqqani network as “the most lethal insurgent group targeting coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan,” while Sirajuddin Haqqani has been compared to a “mix of Tony Soprano and Che Guevara.” [Foreign Policy’s Yochi Dreazen]

The announcement of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death will have an impact on the group’s future. Carter Malkasian explores, and suggests the revelation is “bad news for peace talks and good news for the Islamic State,” in an op-ed at the Washington Post.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israel will detain Jewish terror suspects without trial, a move taken as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes under pressure following two separate extremist incidents by Jewish attackers. [The Guardian’s Mairav Zonszein]

Jewish extremists such as those responsible for the arson attack have become more ambitious, according to investigators, working toward aims such as overthrowing the government and establishing a regime based on Jewish law, report Amos Harel and Chaim Levinson. [Haaretz]

Whether the firebomb attack is labeled as terrorism has far-reaching consequences, writes David A. Graham, commenting on the debate as to whether describing price-tag attacks as such would risk equating them with Hamas attacks on Israel. [The Atlantic]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Egyptian officials that unless human rights were shown greater respect  in the country, they would not succeed in the fight against terrorism, during a news conference with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo yesterday. Despite the comments, the US has made clear that close cooperation with Egypt on security issues would not be impacted by their human rights record. [New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and David D. Kirkpatrick] 

Nigeria’s army has rescued some 178 people from Boko Haram in the northern state of Borno, the military said yesterday. [BBC]

Eight former senior CIA officials are publishing a report intended to act as a rebuttal to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, writes Paul Bedard. [Washington Examiner]

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi rebels called on his forces to keep fighting against the country’s government and the Saudi-led coalition, describing the group’s defeat in Aden as a “limited” achievement by the government. [Reuters]  And the World Food Program has begun the distribution of food aid to the worst affected areas of the city. [UN News Centre]

Six individuals suspected of involvement in “international terrorism” were killed by Russian law enforcers in the North Caucasus, the country’s national Anti-Terrorist Committee has said. [Reuters]

Over 600 corporate, private or government “Victims of Chinese Cyber Espionage,” have been mapped by the NSA, according to information obtained by NBC News.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden explains why Apple ought to keep fighting the government on encryption, in an exclusive for the Intercept.

“Conflicts, despotism and failed economies in the Middle East and Africa are what have sent hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers to Europe, comments the New York Times editorial board, arguing that the “real Eurotunnel crisis” is a humanitarian one. 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security