News Roundup and Notes: August 10, 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

The US Air Force deployed six F-16 fighter jets and roughly 300 personnel to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base yesterday, the Pentagon said. Ankara agreed to allow American warplanes launch strikes against the Islamic State from its territory last month. [Reuters; Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous]

The US consulate in Istanbul came under attack today by gunfire. Separately, a series of attacks on Turkish security forces left eight people dead, weeks after Turkey launched an offensive against the Islamic State and Kurdish insurgents. [Reuters’ Yesim Dikmen And Seyhmus Cakan; BBC]

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution establishing a Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. The resolution calls on Syria to fully cooperate with the investigation.  [UN News Centre]  US Permanent Representative to the UN, Samantha Power, suggested that the information collected could be relied upon later when an effective mechanism for holding criminally accountable those responsible comes into being, in a statement.

The US and allies are now “turning their attention” to the Syrian government’s use of barrel bombs; explosives which are “emerging as the signature weapons” of the civil conflict. Colum Lynch and John Hudson provide further details. [Foreign Policy]

Saturday marked one year since the US conducted its first airstrikes against the Islamic State. [Central CommandThe Guardian has published a video explaining how the Islamic State has reshaped the Middle East in a year.

Congress are no closer to passing legislation authorizing the war against the Islamic State, despite President Obama’s efforts in proposing a draft authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). [The Hill’s Jordain Carney]

The widening US role in the Iraqi conflict is placing strain upon the tacit relationship between Iran-backed militias and the US in the fight against the Islamic State, reports Missy Ryan. [Washington Post]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proposed far-reaching reforms of the country’s political system, changing the way in which politicians are appointed. [Wall Street Journal’s Nour Malas and Safa Majeed]  The proposals follow widespread protests against poor public services and government corruption. [New York Times’ Omar al-Jawoshy and Tim Arango]

IRAN

Iran sanctions relief will not be a “game changer” to the “nefarious activities” which Tehran engages in, President Obama said during an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday. Obama commented that he did not “recall a similar example” when asked if he knew of another time a foreign head of state injected themselves into a debate on US foreign policy, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done on the Iran issue. Footage and transcript available here.

A group of the US’s top scientists wrote to President Obama on Saturday, voicing their praise for the nuclear agreement, describing it as innovative and stringent, reports William J. Broad. [New York Times]

Conflict has arisen between the Obama administration and Senator Chuck Schumer over the Iran deal, Schumer’s allies blaming the White House for leaking information from a private call with the president concerning Schumer’s decision to oppose the deal. [Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere]

Iran’s Major General Hassan Firouzabadi expressed support for the nuclear accord reached between Tehran and world powers. The country’s military chief listed 16 “advantages” to the deal that may be ignored by critics. [Reuters]  And criticism of the deal from Iran’s conservative media has become “bolder,” with suggestions that the deal negotiated oversteps the red lines put in place by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [Wall Street Journal’s Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch]

AFGHANISTAN

A car bomb exploded by the entrance of Kabul airport today, killing at least five and wounding 16 others. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack which it claims was targeting “foreign forces.” [Al Jazeera; Reuters]

A suicide attack in northern Kunduz province killed at least 29 people late Saturday, Afghan officials said. The target of the attack was a local militia commander. Suicide attacks targeting Kabul killed at least 65 people over the weekend, including an attack on a US Special Operations forces base on Friday. [New York Times’ Najim Rahim and Mujib Mashal; Wall Street Journal’ Margherita Stancati and Habib Khan Totakhil]

The UN Security Council strongly condemned the latest wave of terrorist attacks in Kabul since last Thursday, in a statement yesterday. [UN News Centre]

A former Soviet tank commander was found guilty of terrorism charges by a Federal court in Richmond, Virginia. Irek Hamidullin was accused of fighting for the Taliban and is the first military prisoner from Afghanistan convicted in a US civilian court. [Reuters]

What does ISIS stand to gain from the demise of Mullah Omar? Sune Engel Rasmussen suggests his death means “there is no obvious challenger in the global Islamist movement” to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [The Guardian]

Mullah Omar’s death has “derailed” peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul. Saeed Shah and Margherita Stancati survey the landscape following the belated revelation of his death. [Wall Street Journal]

GUANTÁNAMO BAY

A dozen countries have committed to accepting almost half of the 52 Guantánamo inmates already cleared for release, as part of efforts by the Obama administration to speed up the process of closing the facility, US officials have said. [Reuters’ Matt Spetalnick and David Rohde]

The Pentagon is delaying efforts to close the facility, the White House believing Defense Secretary Ash Carter is unwilling to be held accountable for the transfer of detainees and their subsequent conduct, report Tim Mak and Nancy A. Youssef. [The Daily Beast]

US intelligence analysts are investigating the level of interest shown by Guantánamo Bay detainees in the Islamic State, gauging the prisoners’ likely dangerousness upon release from the camp. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Egypt’s Sisi regime is proving beneficial to the rise of the Islamic State in the country, with Egypt “more vulnerable to violence and insurgency today than it had been before” he came into power. [Foreign Policy’s Shadi Hamid]

The culture of “fear and vengeance” built into Gaddafi-run Libya has carried forward into the practices of those who caused his demise, suggests Jamie Dettmer. [The Daily Beast]

President Obama has been criticized for recent cuts to military spending, despite engagement by US forces on multiple fronts around the world, by former NATO Supreme Commander James Stravridis. [The Hill’s Bradford Richardson]

A man has been arrested in Birmingham, UK on suspicion of terrorism related activities, police have said. Suspicious items were allegedly found in his home. [The Guardian’s Kevin Rawlinson]

Greater contributions are required to meet the “staggering” humanitarian needs caused by the ongoing conflict in Yemen, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw. [UN News Centre]

Recent attacks have left Tunisia unsure about whether the country can withstand the surge of terrorist activity without cracking down on the “tentative freedoms” achieved during the revolution in 2011, reports Carlotta Gall. [New York Times] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security