News Roundup and Notes: August 20, 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.

IRAN

The IAEA will allow Iran to use its own inspectors to conduct an investigation into Parchin nuclear site, where Tehran has been accused of developing nuclear arsenal. The investigation will take place under a secret side agreement between the UN watchdog and Iran, according to a document seen by the AP, reports George Jahn.

The IAEA has said it is satisfied with the level of access granted to it by Iran to the Parchin site, though would not confirm whether Tehran was permitted to conduct its own inspections, citing confidentiality. Without confirmation from the watchdog that Iran is maintaining its promises under the nuclear accord, it will not be granted sanctions relief. [Reuters]

Speaker John Boehner called on the Obama administration to release “secret side agreements” between Iran and the IAEA, in a statement yesterday, blasting reports that Tehran would be allowed use its own inspectors to look into Parchin nuclear site. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]

Lawmakers opposed to the deal are concerned that the arrangements increase the risk Iran will be able to hide its alleged weaponization work, reports Jay Solomon. [Wall Street Journal]

The outgoing US ambassador to Poland is expected to be named as head coordinator for the implementation of the Iran deal by the Obama administration. The appointment of Stephen Mull “could both please and disappoint close observers of the process,” writes Nahal Toosi. [Politico]

Allegations that a Wall Street Journal reporter was a link between the US government and the Iranian opposition are “completely false, outlandish and irresponsible,” the publication said in a statement yesterday.

IRAQ and SYRIA

The UK government should condemn the Syrian government’s “grotesque massacre and its aerial bombardment” of the Douma suburb of Damascus on Sunday, and must demand “as per UN resolutions, that the Syrian government immediately and unconditionally stop bombing its civilian population,” a group of academics, legal, humanitarian and media professionals wrote in an open letter at the Guardian.

A breakout of typhoid is threatening Palestinian refugees from the Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus, the UN reported yesterday. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]

“Clashing ideas are harder to measure than kinetic warfare.” The Economist discusses the Islamic State’s propaganda war which “perplexes its enemies, who are many.”

ISIS’s “brutality and its insistence on apocalypse now and caliphate now set it apart from al-Qaeda;” William McCants explains how the Islamic State “out-terrorized” Bin Laden, at Politico Magazine.

EGYPT

A car bomb hit a state security building in Cairo early today, Egypt’s interior ministry said. At least 29 people are reported to be wounded, including six police officers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility though Islamist militants have carried out several similar attacks on the city this year. [Reuters; BBC]

The New York Times editorial board questions the legality of US military aid to Egypt, opining that in light of human rights abuses committed with impunity by that country’s armed forces, it “is not only unwise but almost certainly unlawful” to continue to “enable a despotic government” through military aid.

HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL CONTROVERSY

Two emails – in the public domain since May – have been identified in the midst of an interagency feud over potentially classified information kept on Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The State Department made the emails public along with 300 others but the inspector general for the Intelligence Community has since said they should have been labeled as classified when sent. [CBS News’ Reena Flores and Nancy Cordes]

The Clinton presidential campaign is ramping up its response to complaints that classified material was stored on her private server while in office as secretary of state. The campaign suggested that the issue does not lie with Clinton’s actions but with a dysfunctional agency system for designating and protecting classified information. [Politico’s Josh Gerstein]  The campaign said that material contained on the server had been retroactively classified. [Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau and Robert McMillan]

“[L]imited public interest in a topic doesn’t necessarily make it unworthy of coverage.” Jack Shafer argues against Hillary Clinton’s assertion that the press is wrong to follow the story due to lack of public interest. [Politico Magazine]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

The “risk of escalation in Israel and Palestine is palpable,” the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the Security Council during a briefing on the Middle East. [UN News Centre]

Israel’s Supreme Court has approved the temporary release of a Palestinian hunger striker who may have suffered brain damage in the two months he has refused to eat. [New York Times’ Diaa Hadid]  The IDF has deployed an Iron Dome battery to Ashdod in the south, concerned over the risk of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip is Mohammed Allaan’s condition worsens. [Haaretz]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

An explosion outside a government building in Yemen’s port city of Aden today killed four people and wounded 11, local officials and witnesses said. [Reuters’ Mohammed Mukhashaf]

Three UN peacekeepers based in Central African Republic have been accused of rape by the families of two women and one underage girl, the latest in a “series” of sexual abuse charges against blue helmets in the country, reports Somini Sengupta. [New York Times]  The UN News Centre provides further details.

The private company that vetted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has agreed to a settlement of $30 million, resolving claims that the firm failed to carry out quality control reviews relating to its background checks. [Reuters]

Appellate judges at the ICC issued an order yesterday instructing the trial court to re-examine an aspect of the case against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta; an effort to prosecute Kenyatta collapsed last year due to insufficient evidence. [New York Times’ Marlise Simons]

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir will sign a peace agreement which he had refused to sign earlier this week, the State Department said. [BBC]

Australian authorities have arrested seven young nationals attempting to travel to the Middle East, suspected of planning to join militant Islamist groups, the country’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today. [Reuters’ Colin Packham]

The family of an American general killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan feel “completely betrayed” by the findings of an investigation into the incident, one of the conclusions being that the shooting was not the result of any negligence on the part of any military leader. [Washington Post’s Ian Shapira]

ISIS has effectively established a de facto capital in the Libyan city of Sirte on the Mediterranean Sea. A TSG IntelBrief suggests that airstrikes alone will not defeat the group there, and will likely only “drag on with compounding negative unintended consequences” as has been seen in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Washington Post editorial board calls on the military to open elite units to women, arguing that two women’s recent completion of Ranger School proves that all who are qualified should have the opportunity to serve.

An Estonian intelligence official was sentenced by a Russian court to 15 years in prison yesterday, following his abduction by Russian agents from Estonian territory in September. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes that his conviction is a “deliberate act of intimidation,” one which NATO has left “unanswered.”

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush expressed support for broader government surveillance of US citizens, calling on tech firms to cooperate more with federal agencies, at a national security forum in South Carolina on Tuesday. [The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams] 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security