News Roundup and Notes: September 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.

IRAN

President Obama has secured the support of 34 senators, ensuring that he can sustain a veto on any congressional resolution against the Iran nuclear accord, guaranteeing its passage through Congress. [Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Peterson and Carol E. Lee; Reuters’ Patricia Zengerle]

Sen Barbara Mikulski announced her support for the nuclear accord in a statement yesterday; the Maryland Democrat’s vote provides President Obama with a significant foreign policy victory, reports Jordain Carney. [The Hill]

The Obama administration’s victory was the “result of an aggressive, cooperative strategy between the White House and congressional Democrats,” write Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn. [New York Times]

President Obama will keep pushing for further votes, aiming now for 41 in the Senate to avoid the need for him to invoke his veto. [Politico’s Nahal Toosi]

Secretary of State John Kerry sent letters to lawmakers yesterday, reassuring them of his support for Israel, and describing the administration’s support for that country as “rock solid.” [The Hill’s Jordain Carney]

The House of Representatives will vote on the Iran deal next week; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced yesterday that the House will consider the accord as soon as it returns from the August recess. [The Hill’s Cristina Marcos]

Republican lawmakers are considering legislative options to counter the deal as Obama looks set to succeed in Congress, including the possibility of re-imposing the sanctions lifted by the deal. [New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer]

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio said that the Iran deal is not binding on the next administration and committed to revoking the deal and reimposing sanctions if he gets into office. [The Hill’s Bradford Richardson]

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will make comments on the Iran deal in an effort to reassure her supporters, reports Laura Meckler. [Wall Street Journal]

Saudi King Salman’s visit to the White House on Friday is of great importance, with his stance on the Iran deal playing a critical role in the progression of the accord, reports Philip Gordon. [Politico Magazine]

While Iran’s nuclear aspirations pose a real threat, we should not “buy into the nonsense that it’s the only source of instability” in the region, suggests Thomas L. Friedman, pointing to Saudi Arabia’s history as the greatest “purveyors of radical Islam,” at the New York Times.

IRAQ and SYRIA

Australia’s federal government will decide on whether to join the US-led air campaign against ISIS in Syria next week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. [The Guardian’s Michael Safi]

Questions remain concerning how the Islamic State obtained chemical weapons following a series of recent attacks; Nancy A. Youssef explores the potential sources, including the country’s embattled president’s stockpile. [The Daily Beast]  And Martin Chulov reports on first-hand accounts of a recent mustard gas attack. [The Guardian]

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said he was “right about Iraq,” in an appearance yesterday on Fox News’s “The Five.” [The Hill’s Jesse Byrnes]

Baghdad suffered the highest numbers of civilian casualties of the Iraq conflict in August, with 318 of the total 585 civilians killed, according to the UN mission there.

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and partner nations conducted five airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on September 1. Separately, military forces carried out a further eight strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

Four Turkish police officers were killed by a PKK roadside bomb in the southeast of the country today, officials said. [Reuters]

HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL CONTROVERSY

A further 57 email threads on Hillary Clinton’s private server have been found to contain foreign governments’ information, reports Jonathan Allen. [Reuters]

Requests were made for handheld devices capable of handling classified material by Clinton aides shortly after she was sworn into office; the request was discussed in an email exchange by several top-level security officials, the new batch of emails suggests, reports Josh Gerstein. [Politico]

A former Clinton aide is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right in response to congressional questions about the former secretary of state’s email practices and his role in setting it up, according to two people familiar with the matter. [New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt]

Hillary Clinton’s email “scandal” has the “potential to spread to the White House,” as counterintelligence specialists suspect that others in the Obama administration engaged in the practice of “emailing secrets around,” reports John R. Schindler. [The Daily Beast]

Unofficial Clinton advisor, Sidney Blumenthal appears to have fed her “a steady diet of political advice, foreign-intelligence information, capital gossip and electoral insight in quick email blasts,” writes Byron Tau. [Wall Street Journal]

UKRAINE and RUSSIA

Ukraine’s government is weighing autonomy for areas in the east of the country already in Russia’s “thrall,” reports Andrew R. Kramer. [New York Times]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that Russia is the “winner” of the ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, suggesting that the reason is because Kiev is under pressure to abide by the Minsk accord despite Moscow’s repeated violations.

USS Seawolf has just completed a “daring mission,” spending several weeks below the Arctic cap during a six-month deployment; the mission was designed to send a signal to Moscow about the US military’s capacities, reports David Axe. [The Daily Beast]

“Russian provocations and territorial claims in the Arctic … threaten US national security interests,” opines Sen John McCain, commenting that as President Obama visits Alaska to draw attention to climate change, the real threat is the “menace” posed by Moscow in the region, in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal.

CHINA

China’s President Xi Jinping announced a cut to troop numbers of 300,000, using a parade marking 70 years since the end of World War II to present the Chinese military as a force for peaceful development. [Reuters’ Ben Blanchard; New York Times’ Edward Wong et al]

Chinese citizens’ pride in their country is “not derived from contrived militaristic jingoism,” writes Brendon Hong, describing yesterday’s parade as “excessive and belligerent.” [The Daily Beast]

China is building two aircraft carriers, according to a new Taiwanese Defense Ministry report on the military capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army. [Reuters’ J.R. Wu]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The ACLU urged a panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an injunction to halt the bulk collection of phone records immediately until a new law comes into force prohibiting the controversial program; the Justice Department argued that it needed time for an “orderly transition.” [Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Hong and Damian Paletta]

A double suicide bomb attack at a mosque in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a killed at least 22 people yesterday, officials said. [Wall Street Journal’s Mohammed Al-Kibsi and Rory Jones]  And the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen condemned the shooting of two Red Cross staff members in a statement. [UN News Centre]

Israel’s government is considering giving security forces greater power to open fire with live ammunition on Palestinian stone throwers, with a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office ordering a re-examination of the rules governing the protocol. [The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont]

The threat posed to Egypt by “fragmented” jihadist groups across the country is increasing; Erin Cunningham discusses the mounting competition between that country’s Islamist insurgency, at the Washington Post.

Pakistani military strikes in the restive northwest of the country killed at least 31 suspected militants, officials said yesterday. [Reuters]

More than 13 million children are being denied education due to conflicts in the Middle East, according to a new report from UNICEF. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]

The Army’s elite Ranger School will be open to all soldiers irrespective of gender, after two women last month made history by becoming the first to complete the leadership course. [Al Jazeera America] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security