This morning, the New York Times remarks on the many global crises that President Obama is currently facing: “Rarely has a president been confronted with so many seemingly disparate foreign policy crises all at once… but making the current upheaval more complicated for Mr. Obama is the seemingly interlocking nature of them all.”
And with that, we dive in.
Yesterday, after a bomb from Gaza landed about a mile from Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suspended U.S. commercial flights to Israel. BBC News reports that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) “strongly recommends” that airlines cancel operations to and from Tel Aviv. According to Reuters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “to work for the resumption of flights by American carriers to Israel.”
Secretary Kerry was in Cairo yesterday, working toward a cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Times writes that though Kerry’s meetings were productive, “there was no indication of an imminent breakthrough in cementing a cease-fire deal.” Secretary Kerry joined U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Israel today to continue working on some kind of agreement. The Washington Post chronicles the visit. The AP notes that Middle East peace talks may resume once a cease-fire is reached.
The Times writes that Hamas took a gamble on violence with Israel and the militants have been “exceeding all expectations.”
In the Post, Yael Even Or explains why she and a number of other former Israeli soldiers object to military service.
Yesterday, U.S. intelligence officials released a number of documents, including satellite images and intercepted phone conversations, that direct blame for the downing of MH17 onto Russian separatists in the region. For the first time, officials also identified a large Russian military base as the main conduit for Russian support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and provided images that suggested activities at the outpost had increased markedly in the last month. The Post has the images and more, while the Daily Beast suggests that the base may be where the Russian military trained the separatists to use anti-aircraft systems.
Military.com reports that the Ukrainian military has announced that it has retaken control of Donetsk Airport. However, pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets on Wednesday, not far from where Malaysian Flight 17 was brought down last week. At the same time, there were reports that the separatists were leaving positions on the outskirts of Donetsk and retreating to the center of the city. Reuters has more on the story.
Reuters is also reporting that President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte agreed that Russia must face higher costs if it continues to support violent separatists in Ukraine. The Times notes that for his part, Mr. Putin pledged Russia “will do everything in our power, but that is not nearly enough,” and called on Ukrainian leaders to impose a ceasefire on operations against Donetsk.
In a letter to Obama, lawmakers in the U.S. increased their pressure on the Administration to prevent France from selling two Mistral helicopter carriers to Moscow. The Hill has more. In another letter, according to the Wall Street Journal, the heads of three Senate committees argued that the United States should impose significant new sanctions against Russia’s defense, energy, and banking sectors.
Given all the recently banned flights, the Post also has an interesting graphic that shows where all the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has issued airspace restrictions and prohibitions.
In a Shia area in the Iraqi capital last night, a suicide bomber for the Islamic State killed 33 people. According to Reuters, this was “one of the deadliest recent attacks” in Baghdad. Reuters also notes that funding for the new caliphate comes from the production and sale of oil from recently seized Iraqi oilfields.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is “losing political support” from the nation’s Shia religious leaders and neighboring ally Iran. The Journal reports that Maliki is unlikely to retain his grip on power.
Reuters reports that Iran nuclear talks are scheduled to resume in early September. At the same time, Reuters also tells us that the International Atomic Energy Agency is concerned about Tehran’s lack of engagement with an ongoing investigation into the suspected past military dimensions of Iran’s atomic research.
As violence between rival militias in Libya continues, an explosive today hit fuel storage tanks near the international airport in Tripoli. Reuters has the story.
Two bombs rocked Kaduna, a town in northern Nigeria, today, killing at least 82 people. Though no group has claimed responsibility for the blast, Reuters notes that “Boko Haram has been staging attacks, especially with explosives, outside its northeastern heartlands in the past three months.”
Apparently, al Qaeda is no longer the “it” terrorist group. According to Reuters, the network is “increasingly seen as stale, tired, and ineffectual on the hardcore jihadi social media forums and Twitter accounts that incubate potential militant recruits.”
A recent study released today by Maplecroft Terrorism and Security Dashboard, a global risk consulting firm, shows that terrorism worldwide has become more deadly, with 18,668 people killed in the past year, as compared to the previous five-year average of 14,433. CNBC points out that there were also fewer attacks this past year, which means that militants have become more effective in inflicting violence.
The State Department has taken to Twitter as part of a larger program to overhaul how the U.S. responds to extremists’ online communications, reports Politico. Using hashtags like #ThinkAgainTurnAway, State hopes to contest the space online. There’s only one problem with this counterterrorism initiative: according to Politico, State appears to be losing.
Today, the Air Force is launching two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites into orbit around the Earth, in order to monitor any “nefarious capability” of other countries in space. Stars and Stripes has details.
Yesterday, Paul Rosenzweig wrote for Lawfare on the NSA reform’s progress. Today we learn that Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is close to reaching a deal with the Obama administration on NSA reform. The Hill shares details.
The L.A. Times Editorial Board argues that Congress should act to close the metadata gaps in the USA Freedom Act, ending the bulk collection program and codifying the practice of asking, in advance, for court review of metadata queries.
And on the note of NSA spying, David Ignatius of the Post has penned a piece that covers the history of cooperation between U.S. and German intelligence agencies—and how those agencies are working to rebuild a relationship that, for all its strain lately, will be stronger, more cooperative, and more transparent in the long run. In case you missed it, last week, Taj Moore provided an extensive outline of the recent controversy to Lawfare.
What happens when terrorists have drones? The Editors at Bloomberg provide a scary, if unlikely in the immediate term, overview of the possibilities. Among other things, they say that international export regulations of drone technology must be refined and strengthened.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has an overview of the Al Bahlul ruling regarding Guantanamo military commissions, and some of the major Constitutional questions in play.
Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.