News Roundup and Notes: September 4, 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-led coalition is facing allegations that its airstrikes against the Islamic State have killed 71 civilians in Iraq and Syria; a US central command spokesman disclosed the claims to the Guardian, reports Alice Ross.

The battle to retake Ramadi is “going nowhere,” reports Loveday Morris, a situation which highlights the “shortcomings” of the US strategy to defeat the Islamic State. [Washington Post]

ISIS has blown up three tower tombs in Palmyra, Syria’s antiquities chief announced today; the Islamist group has also destroyed two ancient temples in the city in recent weeks. [Reuters]

US-led airstrikes continue. The US and partner military forces carried out seven airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on September 2. Separately, coalition forces conducted a further 16 strikes on targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

Syrian civilians are “suffering the unimaginable, as the world stands witness,” said the chair of a UN-mandated human rights inquiry, calling for greater diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict to a conclusion. [UN News Centre]

Turkey has released two British VICE News journalists detained on suspicion of terrorism; the Iraqi fixer working with them is still being held.

The refugee crisis facing Europe highlights its political failure in finding solutions to conflicts like the one in Syria, reports Anne Bernard, citing suggestions that the crisis is “essentially self-inflicted.” [New York Times]

A Dutch air force sergeant is suspected of travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State, the defense ministry has said. [BBC]

A mother accused of trying to travel to Syria with her children has been arrested after returning to the UK following her detention in Turkey. [The Guardian’s Chris Johnston]

“The largest humanitarian failure of the Obama era is also its largest strategic failure,” argues Michael Gerson, suggesting that the US response to the Syrian conflict has been a “sickening substitute for useful action,” in an op-ed at the Washington Post.

ISIS “will be defeated,” writes Bernard-Henri Lévy, arguing that “although they are very adept terrorists they are not good soldiers,” at the Wall Street Journal.

IRAN

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the country’s parliament “should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue,” ordering parliament to vote on the accord and calling for the complete lifting of sanctions rather than suspension, in remarks broadcast on state TV. [The Guardian; New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink and Somini Sengupta]

Three Democratic “holdouts” expressed their support for President Obama’s nuclear deal yesterday; Sens Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Warner and Cory Booker said that while the deal is not perfect, it is better than the alternative, reports Seung Min Kim. [Politico]

The Pentagon is finalizing a $1 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a move designed to reassure the kingdom about the Iran agreement, report Helene Cooper and Gardiner Harris. [New York Times] Carol E. Lee and Ahmed Al Omran discuss US-Saudi relations and the importance of King Salman’s visit to Washington today. [Wall Street Journal]

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have won “in a way” on the Iran deal, with aides and allies of the leader arguing that Netanyahu never believed he could block the deal in Congress, but instead wanted to convey how dangerous Iran was. [Washington Post’s William Booth]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes that the Democrats “[p]olitically speaking, … now own the Ayatollahs,” arguing that by supporting the deal, the party is now responsible for Iran’s compliance and “imperial ambitions.”

“A disaster has been averted.” Roger Cohen explains why President Obama’s victory in Congress has prevented the US from negative international repercussions, at the New York Times.

US citizens held in Iran’s prisons could be swapped for Iranians detained in America, the speaker of Iran’s parliament suggested yesterday. [Washington Post’s Carol Morello] 

HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL CONTROVERSY

The State Department has asked the FBI whether the agency has come across certain official records during its review of Hillary Clinton’s email server, in compliance with a court order, Josh Gerstein reports. [Politico] 

A former Hillary Clinton aide is refusing to cooperate with the investigations of FBI and State Department officials, reports Bradford Richardson. [The Hill]

If an “ordinary worker” at the State Department had sent similar information to that sent by Hillary Clinton on her private server, “they would very likely face prosecution for it,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said during an interview with Al Jazeera. Snowden added that the idea Clinton believed her server to be safe is “completely ridiculous.” [The Guardian’s Ellen Brait]

The Clinton campaign is in “damage control mode” trying to reassure supporters as the investigation into her email practices while at the State Department goes on. [Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler and Peter Nicholas]

And, a former State Department official underwent nine hours of questioning by the House Benghazi Committee yesterday. [The Hill’s Julian Hattem] 

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

Two improvised explosive devised wounded six international peacekeepers stationed in Egypt, including four Americans, yesterday. [New York Times’ Liam Stack]

NATO has established its first permanent outposts beside Russia, opening a small command post in Lithuania. [Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes]

A new Justice Department policy will require federal agents to obtain warrants before using equipment to locate and track cellphones, it was announced yesterday. [New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos]

Cluster bombs were used in five countries this year, none of which have signed the treaty prohibiting the weapons, according to a Cluster Munition Coalition report. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]  Glenn Greenwald criticizes the article, asserting that the US “remains one of the world’s most aggressive suppliers” of the weapons. [The Intercept]

The Palestinian UN ambassador expects to raise the Palestinian flag at the organization’s headquarters in time for a speech from Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly on September 30. [New York Times’ Somini Sengupta]

The Navy is seeking prosthetic services for five Guantánamo detainees for at least five years, indicating that the Pentagon intends to continue detaining there after President Obama leaves office, reports Carol Rosenberg. [Miami Herald]

Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda said he “never attacked civilians” and was a professional solider during his trial on 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC. [Al Jazeera]

Reform of China’s military will be risky and difficult, an armed forces official paper said today following the announcement of a 300,000 cut to troops. [Reuters]

Many in southern Yemen are wondering when exiled President Hadi will return to the country from Saudi Arabia now that Houthi rebels have been pushed out of much of the region. [Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov]

A French soldier has been accused of sexual abuse in Central African Republic, the UN human rights chief said yesterday in a statement; the teenage girl is thought to have been abused about a year ago and in April gave birth to a child. [New York Times’ Nick Cumming-Bruce] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security