“Today America is coming to help,” announced President Obama as he authorized U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops in northern Iraq. The Associated Press notes that “the announcements reflected the deepest American engagement in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in late 2011.”
Reuters reports that this morning EDT, two U.S. F/A-18 warplanes bombed Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. The explosives took out “mobile artillery” that have been used to combat Kurdish troops. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal notes that U.S. forces are supporting the Iraqi airstrikes by supplying intelligence information and target locations. Meanwhile, according to Defense News, last night, the U.S. dropped “critical meals and water” to Iraqis trapped on Mount Sinjar.
Jack examined the legal basis for current U.S. involvement in Iraq here, while the Washington Post notes the complicated nature of U.S. efforts to aid Iraq in its current conflict with the Islamic State. For now, President Obama’s efforts seem to entertain support from Congress and even critics. The Wall Street Journal notes that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have lauded the President’s decision to employ airstrikes and send humanitarian relief. Even Conor Fridersdorf, a self-proclaimed “frequent critic of President Obama’s foreign-policy record,” acknowledges the difficult choices the President is currently faced with in Iraq and supports airdrops of food and water.
As the U.S. renews its involvement in Iraq, Islamic State militants continue to gain ground in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Reuters reports that the movement’s black flag flies a little over thirty minutes from the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil. Meanwhile, Vice News shares a five-part video series on the “inner workings” of the Islamic State.
The AP reports that Syrian fighters, who over the weekend captured the Lebanese border town of Arsal, withdrew yesterday, following the negotiation of a ceasefire.
Violence resumed in Gaza today, as a 72-hour cease-fire expired. According to the New York Times, Palestinian militants launched at least 33 rockets into Israel while the Israeli military responded with its own airstrikes. This latest round of attacks comes as talks in Cairo look to establish a more durable cease-fire agreement, but the Israeli government said in a statement that “Israel will not hold negotiations under fire.” The Wall Street Journal has more on the story.
The Post has a story on why the latest war in Gaza could lead to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s return to Gaza, where he has been unable to visit since Hamas took over seven years ago.
Yesterday in Kiev, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen outlined a proposal for the alliance to provide communications, cyber defense equipment, and command-and-control guidance to Ukraine, while calling on Russia to “step back from the brink.” Echoing concerns of other U.S. and NATO officials, Rasmussen said that Russia should “not use peacekeeping as an excuse for war-making.” The LA Times has the story. USA Today has a special report that claims Ukrainian rebels are recruiting fighters, raising funds, and soliciting combat gear in Moscow.
The Times Editorial Board chastises Vladimir Putin for forcing Russia to sanction itself, saying that the measures “will hurt Russians far more than they will hurt Westerners.”
Back in Kiev, Ukrainian authorities attempted to clear the last occupants of Independence Square’s protest camps on Thursday, provoking activists to light tire barricades on fire. The Wall Street Journal describes the last occupants as a “ragtag array of far-right activists and worn-down men in camouflage” who have refused to leave, instead demanding items like toilets and refrigerators.
The Wall Street Journal also has a roundup of activity in Donetsk—where fighting continues unabated, but Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen with close ties in Moscow, has resigned as prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic. While insisting that the militants are not losing ground, Mr. Borodai suggested that the appointment of Alexander Zaharachenko, a local leader of an insurgent militia, would make it easier to hold negotiations with Kiev.
U.S. and Iranian negotiators continued nuclear discussions in Geneva yesterday. Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf called the talks “constructive.” Reuters has details.
The AP informs us that the body of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, who was killed during an “insider attack” on an Afghan training camp, reached Dover Air Force Base in Delaware yesterday. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Afghanistan on an unannounced trip to help resolve the country’s presidential election dispute. The Guardian has more.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel travelled to India yesterday to push new weapons deals in hopes of improving relations with “the world’s largest democracy.” The AP reports on his visit.
The Wall Street Journal informs us that the Egyptian government has unveiled plans to expand the Suez Canal.
With the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Defense One examines security threats emanating from the continent and recent statements on U.S. counterterrorism efforts there. Meanwhile, the Ebola outbreak continues to wreak havoc in Western Africa. The AP and Reuters note that last night, the State Department ordered family members of U.S. diplomats in Liberia to leave the country. The Post shares statistics on the current health crisis.
Breaking Defense shares an exclusive exit interview with outgoing Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. He calls the current confluence of global crises “the most uncertain, chaotic and confused international environment that I’ve witnessed in my entire career.”
McClatchy analyzes the battle between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) over redactions from the Committee’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 use of torture.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board examines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to extend former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s asylum.
Yesterday, we shared news that a Russian crime syndicate has assembled a massive collection of user names, passwords, and email addresses. Bruce Schneier explains why the story is actually not as scary as it sounds. Still, the Post Editorial Board calls for congressional action. Meanwhile, Google is employing its own methods to ensure that websites provide secure connections to Internet users. The Guardian has details.
Yesterday, President Obama signed a bipartisan veterans’ health care overhaul bill. CBS News has footage of his signing statements. The new law comes as the Times shares details of a new study of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans.
USA Today reports that Senator John Walsh (D-MT) has renounced his candidacy for a full term as the junior U.S. Senator from Montana. An Iraq war veteran, Walsh was appointed to fill the seat earlier this year when Senator Max Baucus stepped down to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China. Senator Walsh has been accused of committing plagiarism in a masters thesis, which he wrote in pursuit of a degree from the Army War College.
The Post reports that the National Guard has ended its partnership with NASCAR and the Indy Racing League.
Yesterday around 8:10 PM, Secret Service officers intercepted an intruder on the White House lawn: a toddler who had slipped away from his parents. According to Politico, Secret Service spokesperson Edwin Donovan noted, “We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him, but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on [his] way with parents.”
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