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.
NORTH KOREA TESTS AN I.C.B.M.
North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement yesterday, the first confirmation of the U.S. conclusion that the missile was an I.C.B.M. and not an intermediate-range missile as initially thought, Tillerson adding that North Korea’s actions would be brought before the U.N. Security Council. The AP reports.
“Global action” to counter this “new escalation of the threat” posed by North Korea was called for by Tillerson after North Korea said its newly-developed intercontinental ballistic missile can carry a nuclear warhead today, Reuters’ Jack Kim and Christine Kim report.
“Self-restraint” is “all that separates armistice and war” with North Korea, the top American general in South Korea Gen. Vincent K. Brooks said yesterday, Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.
“American bastards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary.” Pyongyang’s long confrontation with Washington was in its “final stage,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying by North Korean state media, Justin McCurry reports at the Guardian.
North Korea would never put its nuclear weapons program up for negotiations, Kim said, a hard line that suggests further tests are being prepared as Pyongyang pursues its goal of perfecting a nuclear missile capable of striking anywhere in the U.S., write Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim at the AP.
Russia and China called on North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile tests while the U.S. and South Korea put a hold on large-scale military exercises in a joint statement issued yesterday after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the AP reports.
A joint ballistic missile drill was held by the U.S. and South Korea in the Sea of Japan early this morning in response to North Korea’s latest test, the BBC reports.
“So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter, President Trump tweeted early this morning, the Hill’s Rebecca Savransky reporting.
U.S. lawmakers from both parties called on President Trump to increase pressure on North Korea via a “coherent strategy” after Trump’s tweeted response Monday night failed to satisfy them, Annie Karni reports at POLITICO.
“There is no good option here.” Former acting C.I.A. director Michael Morell advised against a military response to North Korea’s missile test, which would carry “extraordinarily high” risks including starting a second Korean War and raising the possibility that Kim Jong-un would use nuclear weapons against North Korea’s neighbors, in an interview yesterday, the Hill’s Max Greenwood reports.
The speed with which North Korea progressed toward threatening the U.S. with nuclear-tipped I.C.B.M.s requires an urgent response, and the Trump administration has some hard thinking to do in formulating a response to yesterday’s test: more sanctions are worth doing, but they can’t be relied on to disarm North Korea in time, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
President Trump may be learning that he cannot rely on China alone to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program, but he has not yet appreciated that a solution to the problem of North Korea will require direct dialogue with Pyongyang, writes the New York Times editorial board.
The latest missile test by North Korea is a direct challenge to President Trump, whose administration has few options as to what to do in response beyond placing robust economic pressure on China and North Korea, since China and Russia would veto the most effective form of sanctions at the U.N. Security Council, write Anne Gearan and Emily Rauhala at the Washington Post.
If Kim Jong-un does develop the ability to reach the U.S. with a missile it will shape every decision the Trump administration and its successors make about defending America’s allies in the region, writes David E. Sanger at the New York Times.
The I.C.B.M. test sets up a confrontation between the U.S. and China as well as between the U.S. and North Korea, and the Trump administration needs to ask questions of China about how North Korea was able to develop an I.C.B.M. so quickly and why it was transported on a Chinese-built vehicle, Gordon G. Chang writes at The Daily Beast.
China and Russia’s decision to work together to peacefully defuse the North Korean crisis contrasts sharply with Donald Trump’s crude threats and pressure tactics, China and Russia’s joint declaration following the latest missile test part of a broader ongoing strategic partnership that has gone largely unnoticed in the West, Simon Tisdall writes at the Guardian.
President Trump will hold an official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany this week as opposed to a more casual meeting as was previously tabled, the White House confirmed yesterday morning, Max Greenwood reports at the Hill.
What will be discussed between Trump and Putin remains to be seen, national security adviser H.R. McMaster saying last week that Trump’s overall policy on Russia has three main priorities: to “confront Russia’s destabilizing behavior,” to deter the Kremlin from unwelcome actions and to “foster areas of cooperation,” without providing any specifics, while the issue of whether or not Trump will fail to bring up Russian interference in last year’s presidential election is already a subject of partisan debate. Niall Stanage anticipates Friday’s meeting at the Hill.
The Kremlin hopes that the first Trump-Putin meeting with establish an effective working dialogue between the two leaders, it said today, Reuters reports.
Trump’s meeting with Putin Friday afternoon could overshadow the series of meetings with other world leaders he is due to hold at this week’s G20 summit, all of which are likely to be tough for Trump, suggests Peter Nicholas and Nathan Hodge at the Wall Street Journal.
“Boxed in.” The first six months of Trump’s presidency have left him severely constrained and with few good options that would allow him to get through his meeting with Putin politically unscathed, write Abby Phillip and Carol Morello at the Washington Post.
President Trump will head to Poland’s Warsaw today where he will deliver a speech showcasing his commitment to N.A.T.O., according to the White House, before moving on to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason report at Reuters.
The Trump administration saw globalization as creating “winners and losers,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in comments released today sharply criticizing President Trump ahead of the G20 summit. Reuters reports.
President Trump and his European counterparts will give establishing a good relationship another go at this week’s summit after Trump’s last visit to Europe six weeks ago left European leaders feeling “agitated and bruised,” with expectations this time round set much lower and further clashes over Russia and the future of N.A.T.O. as well as trade, climate and migration all likely, CNN’s Kevin Liptak writes.
Normally a “sleepy” affair, this year’s G20 summit is “finely poised between success and failure,” with the outcome depending largely on whether President Trump listen to his advisers or chooses to indulge his nationalist “America First” impulses, writes Thomas Wright at POLITICO MAGAZINE.
The ongoing crisis in the Gulf will loom over the G20 summit and Saudi Arabia, the only Gulf country that is a member of the G20, will undoubtedly use this opportunity to press their case even harder with White House officials. Al Jazeera’s Christopher Sheridan identifies this and four other things to know ahead of Donald Trump’s European tour.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) breached the wall around the Old City in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, Monday, marking the S.D.F.’s deepest advance into Raqqa, a coalition spokesperson adding that there is “still tough fighting to be done” before the city can be completely recaptured, Noam Raydan and Maria Abi-Habib report at the Wall Street Journal.
The S.D.F. entered the heavily fortified Old City by “opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall,” according to a statement from U.S. Central Command, having advanced on Raqqa from the south for the first time on Sunday, Al Jazeera reports.
The breach of the city wall was a “key milestone” in the campaign to “liberate” Raqqa, the top U.S. envoy for the international coalition against the Islamic State Brett McGurk tweeted yesterday, the U.S. military providing support for the S.D.F. fighters through airstrikes. The AP reports.
The Syrian military has temporarily halted combat operations in the south of the country ahead of peace talks to be held in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, according to a statement from the Syrian military reported by Syrian State media, the Free Syrian Army rebel group skeptical of the Russian commitment to a ceasefire, Al Jazeera reports.
Russia may deploy troops to patrol the borders of planned de-escalation zones in Syria within two to three weeks after Russia, Turkey and Iran sign an agreement setting out the details of the de-escalation zones, which Russia hopes will happen today, Raushan Nurshayeva reports at Reuters.
Russia should decide Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fate, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a private State Department meeting last week, suggesting that Tillerson believes that Assad will emerge as the victor in the Syria conflict. Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer write at Foreign Policy.
A former French judge was appointed Monday to head the legal team preparing evidence of crimes committed in Syria, leading to possible war crimes trials, with some human rights experts surprised with the announcement as it leaves the judge open to questions of impartiality because of France’s permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council and its involvement in the Syria conflict. Nick Cumming-Bruce reports at the New York Times.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin should explore means of cooperation in Syria when they meet at the G20 summit on Friday and discuss whether the Euphrates River separation line provides a model for wider U.S.-Russian agreement across the country, David Ignatius writes at the Washington Post.
The elimination of Islamic State leaders in Syria and Iraq is due to the Obama administration’s strategy which President Trump has continued, creating issues for Trump’s new counter-Islamic State strategy which he intends to present as different to his predecessor’s plan, Kimberley Dozier writes at The Daily Beast.
Approximately 300 Islamic State fighters remain in Mosul’s Old City, according to Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aradi of Iraq’s special forces, the AP reports.
What happens once the Islamic State are defeated in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa? Ishaan Tharoor warns against complacency at the Washington Post, arguing that humanitarian needs, securing the peace and balancing sectarian divides remain significant challenges.
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 17 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 3. Separately, partner forces conducted eight strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt will meet in Cairo today to discuss Qatar’s response to the list of 13 demands it was asked to meet nearly two weeks ago before diplomatic relations could be restored, but settlement of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Qatar and the four Arab states seemed far off, Sami Aboudi reports at Reuters.
Saudi Arabia and its allies received Qatar’s response to the list of demands on Monday, they confirmed early yesterday, Saudi Arabia saying that Qatar would receive a response “in due time.” Al Jazeera reports.
Qatar is “prepared to engage in dialogue to examine the grievances raised by other states,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said ahead of the deadline to comply with the list of demands that passed midnight last night, warning that Qatar would not be “dictated to.” Simeon Kerr reports at the Financial Times.
“[The] sovereignty of each of country and the respect of this national sovereignty has to be there,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said yesterday at a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, Al Jazeera reporting.
Arab nations may institute further punitive measures against Qatar and expel the country from the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) as Qatar looks likely to reject the Arab nations’ demands, Nicolas Parasie suggests at the Wall Street Journal.
Economic sanctions against Qatar are being considered by senior officials of the four Arab nations who have cut off ties with their neighbor ahead of today’s meeting in Cairo, while Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, called the demands “unrealistic” and “not actionable” at a press conference in Doha yesterday, Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.
The Qatar crisis benefits Iran. While Gulf-Arab countries fight among themselves, Iran’s enemies – particularly Saudi Arabia – weaken themselves and change the perception that Iran is the key to instability in the region, Thomas Erdbrink writes at the New York Times.
Can relations between Qatar and Gulf nations be repaired following the crisis? Megan O’Toole provides an analysis at Al Jazeera.
Saudi Arabia is the main foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the U.K, according to a report by U.K. thinktank the Henry Jackson Society, based on a series of findings the U.K.’s Saudi Arabian embassy said were “categorically false,” the BBC reports.
The report, which also calls for a public inquiry into all Gulf funding sources, is likely to anger Saudi Arabia since its ongoing dispute with Qatar is based largely on the contention that Qatar is the primary source of funding for overseas terrorism and a harborer of terrorists, writes Patrick Wintour at the Guardian.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) visited American troops in Afghanistan to mark the Fourth of July anniversary, Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s lack of strategy in Afghanistan was criticized by the Sens. during yesterday’s visit, Sen. McCain adding “[when] they’re dying and wounded, that’s when the American people want to know what the strategy is and when they’re coming home.” Jessica Donati reports at the Wall Street Journal.
President Trump must fill vacancies in the Afghan Embassy and the State Department, the Sens. also said, arguing that military actions are insufficient to achieve stability in Afghanistan. Mujib Mashal reports at the New York Times.
The LAPTOP BAN
The U.S. ban on carrying electronic devices in the cabins of flights to the U.S. has been lifted at Istanbul airport, Turkish state media is reporting, the AP reports.
Dubai-based Emirates airlines is also exempted from the ban now that new security measures are in place, the airline said today, the AP reports.
U.S. forces conducted an airstrike on al-Shabaab militants in Somalia Sunday, Africa Command confirmed, apparently the second strike by U.S. forces carried out under increased authorities given to African commanders by President Trump earlier this year, the Hill’s Rebecca Kheel reports.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was preparing to make a deal with Islamic State-linked militants in the days after they sieged the southern city of Marawi but backed out at the last minute with no explanation, an intermediary involved in the process told Reuters’ Martin Petty.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel at the start of a three-day visit yesterday, the first by an Indian prime minister, during which the two leaders will discuss increased defense ties among a range of issues, Saif Khalid examining the history of Israeli-Indian relations and the emerging ties between the two nations at Al Jazeera.
A second cyberattack against Ukraine was blocked by Ukrainian cyber police following last week’s attack which spread around the world, they said today, Reuters reporting.
A case trying to overturn a 2016 decision to ban prosecutions of former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair over the 2003 Iraq war will be heard by the England and Wales Attorney General Jeremy Wright Q.C., Vikram Dodd reports at the Guardian.
Justice Department regulations will make it legally and politically difficult to fire the special counsel appointed to investigation Trump-Russia collusion Robert Mueller, writes David E. Kendall, attorney for former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, at the Washington Post.