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.
President Obama was on the brink of a major victory yesterday as Sens Bob Casey and Chris Coons expressed their support for the accord, leaving the administration within one vote of protecting the deal in Congress. [Reuters’ Patricia Zengerle; New York Times’ David M. Herszenhorn] The Wall Street Journal has an up-to-date list of where senators stand on the accord.
Sen Ben Cardin refused to say whether he would be the crucial 34th Senate vote yesterday; the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cardin is under more scrutiny than his colleagues due to his role, along with Committee Chairman Bob Corker, in designing the law which allowed the congressional review of the accord. [Politico’s Burgess Everett]
Rep Hakeem Jeffries announced his support for the deal yesterday; Jeffries is known for his close ties to pro-Israel advocacy groups. [New York Times’ Alexander Burns]
Iranian hardliners said that the US remains the country’s top enemy, guilty of “uncountable” crimes; the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that despite the accord, America is still the “same Great Satan.” [New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink]
The majority of Americans want Congress to back the Iran nuclear deal, according to a new survey from the University of Maryland.
President Obama’s “more important aim” should be to “win the long-term struggle with Iran for power in the Middle East,” opines former under secretary of state, Nicholas Burns, presenting a number of steps the Obama administration should consider following the congressional vote. [New York Times]
IRAQ and SYRIA
The US has launched a secret drone campaign aimed at hunting terrorism suspects in Syria, part of a targeted killing program by the CIA and US Special Operations forces that runs separately from the US military offensive against ISIS, officials said. [Washington Post’s Greg Miller]
Russia may be looking at its “own version of mission creep in the treacherous Middle East,” writes Michael Weiss, discussing reports of Moscow’s “ever expanding” military involvement in the Syrian conflict. [The Daily Beast]
Canada has charged a Syrian intelligence officer with torturing a Canadian citizen rendered to Syria by the US in 2002; Murtaza Hussain provides the details. [The Intercept]
The Ankara offices of a media group critical of Turkey’s president have been raided by authorities, a day after two British journalists were arrested on disputed terrorism charges, sparking concerns over press freedom. [AFP] The earlier arrest of three VICE News staff members was reportedly due to the use of an encryption system by the Iraqi fixer which is often relied upon by ISIS. [Al Jazeera]
Over 18 Turkish construction workers were seized by gunmen in Baghdad, officials from Iraq and Turkey said. It was not immediately clear who was responsible or what the motive was. [BBC]
HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL CONTROVERSY
An “unwieldy flurry of pending lawsuits” demanding copies of emails sent or received by Hillary Clinton might be consolidated, sources told Politico yesterday. The Justice Department is preparing to request that the increasing number of FOIA lawsuits be placed before a single judge, at least for a period of time, reports Josh Gerstein. The State Department is currently obligated to release monthly batches of Clinton’s emails under the order of a federal judge. [Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau]
At least six emails written and sent by Clinton on her personal account contained information now deemed as classified, according to thousands of emails released by the State Department. [Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman]
Hillary Clinton expressed interest in the presidential aspirations of Gen David Petraeus, Monday’s batch of emails has revealed. [Politico’s Josh Gerstein]
“Mrs Clinton’s private server was about one thing: control,” writes William McGurn, arguing that the former secretary of state “used it to ensure she would be in a position to thwart effective oversight and accountability.” [Wall Street Journal]
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to be preparing a speech detailing a new strategy for the Palestinian national struggle, sparking speculation about what it will contain. [New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren]
Images of an IDF soldier detaining a 12-year-old Palestinian boy at a protest in the West Bank last Friday has resulted in a charged debate of opposing views, reports Robert Mackey. [New York Times]
Gaza could become uninhabitable in less than five years due to what is described as its “de-development,” according to a new UN report. “De-development” refers to the process whereby development is not only hindered but in fact reversed, reports Peter Beaumont. [The Guardian]
Two staff members of the Red Cross were shot dead today in Amran province by an unknown assailant, the international aid group said. [Reuters]
Detainees have suffered serious human rights abuses while held by both pro-government militiamen and Houthi rebels in the city of Aden, Human Rights Watch has said, citing reports of summary executions. [BBC]
Aden is being steadily infiltrated by AQAP and the Islamic State, writes Frank Gardner, discussing reports which indicate that the conflict has given “jihadists a backdoor entry” into the city. [BBC]
The killing of civilians by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes has become “commonplace” in the country’s war, which has so far killed more than 4,500 people; Iona Craig provides details at The Intercept.
Even if the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay was to close, the naval base there would remain open, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of the military during a “Worldwide Troop Talk.” [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
A suicide attack on a crowd lining up to enter a government building in the Khyber tribal region of northwestern Pakistan yesterday killed at least four people. [New York Times’ Ismail Khan]
Al-Shabaab militants overran an African Union base in southern Somalia yesterday, an attack which included a suicide bombing and an intense firefight, officials and witnesses said. [New York Times’ Mohammed Ibrahim]
Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda pleaded “Not guilty” today to war crimes and crimes against humanity charges on the first day of his trial at the International Criminal Court. [Reuters’ Thomas Escritt]
Local Afghans are skeptical about a US announcement that it will reopen a criminal investigation into the deaths of at least 18 Afghan civilians allegedly killed by an Army Special Forces A-team, report Sayed Salahuddin and Sudarsan Raghavan. [Washington Post]
Kuwaiti authorities have charged 25 nationals and an Iranian with illicit arms possession and maintaining secretive contacts with Iran and Hezbollah, Kuwait’s official news agency said. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone] The arrested individuals are accused of seeking to commit “acts harmful to the unity and territorial integrity of Kuwait.” [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones]
North Korea has denied apologizing to South Korea for the wounding of two soldiers, accusing the South of misreading the two countries’ recent agreement to calm border tensions. [New York Times’ Choe Sang-Hun]