Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Rishabh Bhandari, David Hopen
Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 2:17 PM

More than 9,000 people have been detained in Turkey as President Erdogan continues his crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup, jailing generals, military officials, governors and police officers. Erdogan has refused to rule out the possibility of reinstating the death penalty as a means of retribution, prompting Secretary of State John Kerry to join the E.U. in urging the Turkish government to “uphold the highest standards of respect” for “democratic institutions and the rule of law.” Turkey abolished its death penalty in 2004 as a component of its bid to join the E.U., which does not allow capital punishment. The AP has more.

According to Politico, Kerry also warned that NATO will investigate Erdogan’s purging of the country with “vigilance” and “scrutiny” to determine whether such actions comply with the alliance’s requirement for democracy and rule of law. The Washington Post has more on Turkey’s increasingly complicated relationship with NATO.

Meanwhile, the Post reveals that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, the country’s main foreign intelligence agency, warned the Turkish military of the coup hours before it began. Both outsiders and military officials in Turkey raised questions as to why action was not taken to preemptively undercut the power grab.

Amid the chaos, the Post’s Dan Lamothe questions whether the U.S. can continue to keep nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base, the Turkish airfield from which it regularly launches airstrikes against the Islamic State. Lamothe raises doubts about both the weapons’ security and their utility in unstable Turkey. Read the article here.

The AP reports that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack on a German train, in which a 17-year-old boy used an ax and knife to wound at least five people, including four Chinese tourists. Though an ISIS flag was found in the attacker’s room, authorities have found “no indication” of a direct link between the Islamic State and the attacker, an Afghan asylum seeker. In the wake of the attack, Philip Oltermann writes for The Guardian why German security forces could be forced to rethink counter-terrorism strategies to ward off the growing trend of “lone wolf” attacks.

At least 56 were killed in U.S.-backed airstrikes targeting the Syrian villages of Tokhar and Hoshariyeh, held by ISIS. The two villages are near the ISIS stronghold of Manbij, which, if captured, would mark the largest strategic defeat for the Islamic State in Syria since losing the border town of Tal Abyad. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 11 of the 56 killed were children, while the IS-linked Aamaq news agency purported that 160 civilians were killed in Tokhar alone.

The AP has obtained a copy of the confidential agreement between Iran and the IAEA that served as an addendum to the international nuclear deal. The document, which the AP has not made public, states that Iran may begin to replace its centrifuges with more advanced machines in 2027, 11 years after the adoption of the nuclear deal. CBS clarifies that the addendum document was formally separate from the deal’s text but was approved by the parties that negotiated the deal with Iran. The nuclear agreement's physical restraints on Iranian nuclear enrichment are set to expire 15 years after the deal's adoption.

Meanwhile, a new U.N. report on the Iran nuclear deal praises Iran for keeping its nuclear commitments, but criticizes its launching of long-range ballistic missiles and shipping of weapons to Yemen and Iraq. The Wall Street Journal has more.

The Associated Press writes that the Taliban launched multiple attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday, including on a strategic tunnel in the Hindu Kush mountains which links the capital of Kabul with the country’s north and south. U.S. troops have recently been giving expanded authority to conduct air strikes and assist conventional Afghan troops in military operations.

The Philippines announced its rejection of Beijing’s call for a bilateral negotiation over the two countries’ maritime disputes in the South China Sea. The Filipino foreign minister said the decision was made because of China’s precondition that the recent international tribunal award could not be discussed during negotiations. China has angrily rejected the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, insisting that it will not change its approach or its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

The Wall Street Journal reports that North Korea test-fired three ballistics missiles as a sign of Pyongyang’s displeasure at a planned U.S. missile-defense system south of Seoul. Two of the missiles had the range to hit any targets in South Korea, while the third would have been able to target most of Japan. South Korea had announced its selection of the location for the missile-defense system six days earlier.

Britain will likely not begin its formal separation from the European Union until 2017, according to one government lawyer. Prime Minister Theresa May has also stated that the United Kingdom would wait until after 2016 to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would trigger a two-year long countdown to exit of the E.U.

Authorities in Mali acknowledged that an attack on an army base killed 10 people and wounded another 38 on early Tuesday morning. While no organization has claimed responsibility, local officials suspect the assailants to be Islamic militants.

The United Nations warns that 244,000 Nigerian children living in areas formerly controlled by Boko Haram are suffering from severe malnutrition. The Islamic militant group’s seven-year rebellion has left 20,000 dead and displaced more than 2 million Nigerians. As the Nigerian military gains ground and more areas become accessible to humanitarian aid, the extent of the humanitarian crisis has become more apparent, but U.N. humanitarian agencies say that their requests for aid have not been adequately met. The BBC has more.

The Associated Press tells us that Indonesian security forces killed the country’s most wanted Islamic militant in a gunbattle on Tuesday. Abu Wardah Santoso headed the East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group, an organization that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Indonesian law enforcement officials had been searching for Santoso for the past five years. His death marks another victory for the country’s counterterrorism campaign as the extremist movement in Indonesia remains increasingly pinned down in the jungles of the Sulawesi island.

Bulgaria’s interior ministry detained 45 migrants attempting to cross into neighboring Serbia. The detainments come just three days after Belgrade bolstered its border patrols in an effort to stop Middle Eastern migrants from using its borders as a route into Western Europe.

An obscure Brazilian extremist group has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State over a Telegram channel. This announcement from the Brazilian group Ansar al Khilafah heightens security concerns in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. This would be the first instance in which an organized South American group formally affiliated itself with ISIS.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Ammar Abdulhamid compared Turkish and Arab conceptions of nationalism in light of the failed coup attempt in Turkey.

Cody Poplin filed the public remarks Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins made before the pre-trial hearings in Guantanamo Bay resumed.

Ryan Scoville analyzed the recent findings from the South China Sea tribunal award to predict what this would mean for the Senkaku Islands dispute between Japan and China.

Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes invited readers to attend a "Hoover Non-Book Soiree," where Ben will interview Walter Pincus on the intersection between journalism and national scurity law.

Quinta Jurecic posted the latest version of the Week That Will Be.

Quinta also broke down a new report on sextortion from the University of New Hampshire.

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.