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.
Turkey entered a three-month state of emergency late last night, following parliamentary approval. The vote to approve the move was not unanimous, report Ned Levin and Margaret Coker for the Wall Street Journal, reflecting a “deep unease” about the direction the country is going in following last week’s failed coup attempt. Announcing the state of emergency, President Erdoğan said that it was necessary and would not pose a threat to civil rights. He compared his actions to those taken in France following the November Paris attacks.
Turkey will temporarily suspend the implementation of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights as part of the state of emergency, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said. [Hürriyet Daily News]
The EU has branded Turkey’s crackdown on educators, the judiciary and the media in the wake of the coup “unacceptable,” reports the BBC. High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn said they were “concerned” by Turkey’s decision to impose a state of emergency. A spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the UN head has taken note of Turkey’s repeated assurances that the rule of law and due process will be upheld.
“Do not abandon the heroic resistance you have put up for your country, homeland and flag.” Citizens of Turkey received a text from President Erdoğan yesterday morning, urging their continued loyalty and encouraging them to keep up the nightly gatherings that have been taking place in central Istanbul and other places “to teach the traitor, the terrorist” followers of Fethullah Gulen “a lesson.” Tim Arango reports for the New York Times.
The US has proposed setting up a commission on the issue of Fethullah Gulen’s extradition to Turkey, and Turkey is ready to take part, according to Turkey’s foreign minister. [Reuters]
Who was behind the coup attempt? Erdoğan clearly blames cleric Fethullah Gulen, and there are “good reasons to believe the accusation is correct,” says Mustafa Akyol in the New York Times.
The “stunning sweep” of Turkey’s crackdown is fueling concerns that Erdoğan is using the failed coup to transform Turkey, turning it from its secular roots toward a pious Muslim model, with personal power for Erdoğan in place of democratic ideals. Christopher Torchia considers the signs and indications for the AP.
“Erdoğan conflates dissent with treachery; he is staging his own coup against Turkey pluralism.” Erdoğan is quickly destroying the very democracy that the Turkish people took to the streets and gave their lives to defend against the attempted military coup, his purge going “far beyond the need to preserve the security of the state.” The Economist discusses “Erdoğan’s revenge.”
A Greek court has sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who escaped to Greece in the aftermath of the coup attempt to two month jail terms, suspended for three years, for illegally entering the country. Despite the suspended sentence, the soldiers are being held in custody, pending resolution of their asylum applications. [Al Jazeera]
Could Turkey’s purge help the Islamic State? CNN’s Nic Robertson suggests that the detention of a third of Turkey’s military command raises concerns among NATO allies.
IRAQ and SYRIA
The US-backed Syria Democratic Forces have given the Islamic State 48 hours to leave the city of Manbij before bombings resume, having called on the US-led coalition to halt air strikes on the area after dozens of civilians were reported killed. [New York Times’ Jeffrey Marcus]
Iraqi political factions are vying to take part in the final offensive on Islamic State-held Mosul, and over who will govern the city if and when it is recaptured. Capturing Mosul is viewed as a more complicated operation than other recent victories against the Islamic State, because of its convoluted local politics, demographics, and size. [Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Kent, Ali Nabhan, and Ghassan Adnan]
Retaking Mosul could result in the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world this year, the UN has warned members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State. Officials meeting at the summit in Washington this week discussed the matter in depth, agreeing that work to stabilize the city once it is recaptured must begin without delay. Paul Sonne and Sarah Kent report for the Wall Street Journal.
US and Russian officials are due to meet in Geneva next week, the UN Special Envoy for Syria saying she hopes the meeting will pave the way for peace talks, but declining to disclose further details. [Reuters]
Allies fighting the Islamic State should do more to gather evidence of war crimes, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told delegates at the summit in Washington. He also raised the possibility of a UK summit to discuss how to deal with the threat posed by Islamic State fighters dispersing around the world after they have been pushed out of Iraq and Syria. [BBC]
The beheading of a boy captured from a refugee camp north of Syria’s Aleppo by a Syrian rebel group was an “individual mistake” on the part of one of its members, leaders of the rebel group responsible have said, CNN’s Paul Armstrong and Hamdi Alkhshali report.
The death of Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Islamic State’s “minister of war,” may disrupt the terrorist group’s important recruitment efforts in ex-Soviet republics, according to an Iraq security expert. “Omar the Chechen” was killed in combat in Iraq some time ago, but his death was only confirmed on Wednesday. [Reuters’ Stephen Kalin and Phil Stewart]
US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out nine airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 20. Separately, partner forces conducted 11 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord wants France to explain the presence of its military in Libya. There appears to be a suspicion that France is backing government opponent General Khalifa Haftar, who leads an army fighting armed groups in eastern Libya, according to Al Jazeera. If that is true, tensions could escalate amid multiplying questions about the West’s role in Libya.
A French warplane bombed Islamic militia positions outside Libya’s Benghazi on Wednesday following the killings of three French troops in the region, two Libyan officials said yesterday. A member of the militia said that at least 16 militiamen were killed and their weapons destroyed. [AP’s Rami Musa]
Iran has arrested 40 suspects linked to the discovery of an underground tunnel in the country’s Far East, Amir Vahdat of the Washington Post reports. The official IRNA news agency reports that the subterranean tunnel discovered two nights ago was meant for carrying out attacks and militant activities and those arrested belong to a “terrorist group” but did not identify the group. Security forces have also occasionally clashed with militants groups in the area believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.
Bahrain says it has dismantled an Iranian-linked cell plotting attacks on its territory, arresting five suspects after finding bomb-making materials, guns and knives in their house. Reuters reports that Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, frequently accuses Iran, a Shi’ite theocracy, of being behind bomb attacks targeting security services and fomenting Shi’ite protests. Iran denies interfering in Bahrain, although it acknowledges support for groups seeking greater rights for Bahrain Shi’ite.
RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
Brazilian authorities have arrested ten members of an Islamist militant group accused of organizing terror attacks ahead of the Olympic Games, due to take place in Rio in two weeks’ time, according to a statement released by Brazil’s Federal Police. The Defenders of Sharia, as the group is known, are being investigated in several states across Brazil. [New York Times’ Simon Romero]
Those being hired to screen for weapons outside Olympic venues in Brazil have no security experience and minimal training, Will Connors and Benjamin Parkin report for the Wall Street Journal.
A secret facility used by North Korea in the early stages of building its uranium enrichment program may have been located by the Institute for Science and International Security, who said there has always been doubt over whether North Korea has disclosed all of its nuclear facilities. If confirmed, knowing the location of the facility would be crucial to the success of any future agreement to freeze and dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the Institute said. [Reuters’ Jonathan Landay]
North Korea appears to have revived coded message broadcasts after 16 years, South Korea intercepting shortwave radio broadcasts of seemingly random numbers on June 24 and July 15, it confirmed on Wednesday. [New York Times’ Choe Sang-Hun]
Alleged 9/11 plot deputy Walid Bin Attach was kicked out of Guantánamo Bay’s war court yesterday, after shouting “no lawyer at my table!” as judge Army Col. James L. Pohl entered court, and then refusing to sit down and be quiet when ordered to. Bin Attash has rejected his lawyers, and was taken out of court before the issue of his self-representation could be resolved. The court then went on to hear arguments from defense lawyers who wish Pohl to disqualify himself, the chief prosecutor and the entire prosecution team over allegations that the colluded in the secret destruction of trial evidence. Prosecutors deny the accusations. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s suggestions that the US might not come to the defense of NATO allies who don’t pay their way if he becomes President have caused anxiety among European officials and added fuel to the debate over cost sharing among NATO allies, Europe having been slow to meet its commitments on military spending for years. Trump made the comments during an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, reports Sewell Chan. Trumps comments were specifically aimed at the Baltic States. Responding, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted that “Estonia is of 5 NATO allies in Europe to meet its 2% def expenditures commitment.” Other European leaders have responded with similar “confusion and surprise.” Adam Taylor and Michael Birnbaum report for the Washington Post.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper: be cautious when it comes to the latest security news. Speaking bluntly in an interview on Wednesday, the US’s top intelligence official warned against hyping up the threat of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, treat the Obama administration’s plans to share intelligence with Russia on Syrian targets with caution, and question Turkish claims that last week’s coup was organized by cleric Fethullah Gulen, reports David Ignatius for the Washington Post. Clapper reiterated his previous warning that the US can’t “fix” the problems in the Middle East by itself.
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice will ask Beijing to avoid escalation in the South China Sea following the ruling of an international tribunal that rejected China’s territorial claims in the region, when she makes the highest-level US visit to China since the ruling was released, next week. [Reuters’ Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom]
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden plans to help develop a modified version of the iPhone for journalists that alerts them to electronic surveillance. Speaking from Russia, where he is living in exile, said he will be working with Andrew Huang, a MIT-trained electrical engineer, to see if such a phone is possible. [New York Times’ John Markoff]
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 84 people in a terrorist attack in Nice, France, got help from at least five people, the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, announced at a news conference on Thursday. Aurelien Breeden of The New York Times reports the five suspects, who were arrested in the days after the attack, were charged on Thursday, with charges including murder, attempted murder, terrorist conspiracy, and the possession and transportation of weapons.
An Indian military plane with over 20 service personnel onboard has gone missing over the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Air Force has confirmed. Surveillance planes are looking for the missing plane, which was on its way to strategic islands near the Malacca Straits, where India has a military base. [BBC]
Ukraine’s Western-backed security forces are as guilty of abuse and torture as the rebel groups they are fighting, according to a report issued by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
A British military camp in in Wiltshire has been placed in lockdown after reports circulated that three people had been spotted nearby with a “long-barrelled weapon.” An air and ground search did not locate anyone, according to Wiltshire police. [The Guardian’s Jamie Grierson] The incident follows an attempted abduction of a serviceman at a Royal Air Force Base in Norfolk, eastern England, on Wednesday. The attackers are being described as “Middle Eastern” in appearance, and are still at large. Investigation of the incident is still in the hands of the local police force, suggesting that, while terrorism is “a possibility that cannot be discounted,” there is no evidence to suggest this at this stage. [The Guardian’s Alice Ross et al]
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