Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Rishabh Bhandari
Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 3:03 PM

A suicide bombing from a car in a crowded shopping district rocked Baghdad early Sunday, killing over 175 people, wounding 200 and marking the deadliest single bombing ever in Iraq. Calls for security forces to raid Islamic State sleeper cells have intensified as the death tolls continue to climb, with the attack showing that the Islamic State can still strike within the heart of Iraq despite recent territorial losses. Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban, Iraq’s interior minister, resigned today in response to the attack, claiming the government failed to heed his proposed reforms to bring together Iraqi security forces under a “unified plan.” The Associated Press has more.

Reuters tells us that new details regarding Friday’s deadly attack on a cafe in Dhaka question whether Bangladesh police mistook a hostage for a militant and generally mishandled warnings leading up to the attack, which left 28 dead. According to interviews with officials, Bangladesh police were made aware of potential attacks, but failed to identify the cafe as a target, instead closing major hotels and eateries as a precaution. More on the attack here.

Three suicide bombers attacked three different cities in Saudi Arabia last evening killing at least four people, reports The Wall Street Journal. The attacks, which come as Muslims prepare for the conclusion of Ramadan, targeted the holy site of Medina and a mosque in eastern Qatif. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, categorized the attacks as an attack on Islam. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Islamic State has carried out similar bombings in the past year in an effort to target Shi’ites and Saudi security forces.

In response to last week’s suicide bombing attack at Istanbul’s main airport, Turkey arrested 17 more suspects, all of whom are accused of being Islamic State militants from the ex-Soviet Union. The mass jailing brings the total number of arrested suspects to 30.

Sabrina Tavernise of the Times profiles President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, examining how his foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors” has given way to Turkey’s current security and economic crises. Read the full piece here.

Backed by airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces retook northern villages from the hands of the Islamic State and pushed closer to an airbase that could prove pivotal in seizing Mosul, the largest city held by the Islamic State. The campaign to recover Mosul gained new momentum last month after Iraq’s military recaptured Fallujah.

Tensions continue to rise between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea. Despite a looming ruling in the dispute from Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration, China declared a no-sail-zone over the waters this week as it conducts military drills. China’s defiance comes as the Philippines’ new president expressed his commitment to enter into talks with China following the tribunal’s decision and avoid war. The Chinese government, meanwhile, downplayed an influential newspaper’s prediction of military confrontation, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei insisting the government is committed to peace but refractory to “any decision imposed by a third party as a means of resolution.”

In the East China Sea, meanwhile, Japan denied accusation that its fighter jets provoked Chinese warplanes in a June incident. Though China warned the incident threatened regional stability, Japan claimed that no provocation occurred and that its jets were scrambled after spotting two Chinese warplanes approaching the disputed waters.

A suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State attacked a police station in Solo, Indonesia, killing himself and wounding at least one police officer. Indonesia has been on heightened alert in the wake of a January attack in Jakarta and recent calls for Islamic State supporters to stay home and carry out attacks locally.

The UK-based rights group Amnesty International charged five Syrian rebel groups with committing “war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with impunity,” reports Al Jazeera. The report called on international backers to cease arm transfers to the identified groups, several of whom were backed by the U.S. and other regional powers.

The AP reports that Nigerian soldiers thwarted an attack by three Boko Haram female suicide bombers in the northeast and killed four suspected Boko Haram members nearby in the Kukawa region. Adding to the violence were Niger Delta Avenger militants, who blew up national and Chevron oil pipelines in the south as part of their demand for a greater share of oil wealth.

Seeking East African allies and an observer seat at the African Union, Prime Minister Netanyahu kicked off a four-nation African visit to meet with Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. The diplomatic tour comes on the heels of a recent report criticizing both the Israeli and Palestinian approaches to peace.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Kenneth Anderson wished everyone a Happy Fourth of July and reflected on a poignant connection his family had with the Japanese-American internment camps set up during World War II

Sloane Speakman rejected calls that the Syrian Civil War should end with the nation’s dismemberment.

Benjamin Wittes talked with John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, about an legal article he published for the Harvard National Security Journal on the latest episode of The Lawfare Podcast.

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