Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Friday, October 13, 2017, 1:22 PM

President Trump is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal in a speech Friday afternoon, but the U.S. will not attempt to withdraw from the agreement, the New York Times reported. Trump’s move will leave in hands of Congress the decision of whether to reimpose sanctions and effectively terminate the accord. The administration will announce a broader Iran strategy at midday on Friday that will seek to stop Iran’s support for terrorism.

Hamas and Fatah reached a deal to unify control of Gaza and the West Bank, the Washington Post reported. A Fatah-led Palestinian unity government will assume administration of Gaza before the parties form a new government later this year. The deal ends an 11-year rupture in the Palestinian Authority that began when Hamas won elections in 2006 and Fatah refused to cede control. The agreement does not disarm Hamas fighters; Israel has said it would oppose any deal that fails to do so.

Facebook will disclose the demographic groups that Russia-linked ads targeted during the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal reported. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said the company would also hand over to congressional investigators non-paid posts created by the fake accounts. However, a social media researcher said Facebook took down thousands of Russia-linked posts last week, preventing further open-source research on the impact of the fake accounts, according to the Post. That researcher’s previous work had suggested that the Russia-linked accounts’ non-paid content had reached tens of millions of Americans. CNN reported the Russian influence campaign extended across platforms to YouTube, Instagram and Pokemon Go.

Iraqi forces launched an operation against Kurdish-held positions near the disputed city of Kirkuk, AFP reported. The Iraqi military said that Kurdish fighters withdrew from their forward bases to avoid an armed confrontation. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) said thousands of Kurdish fighters have deployed around Kirkuk to hold the city. On Thursday, Iraq’s government refused to negotiate with the KRG about re-opening its airports and borders unless the Kurds pledge to respect “Iraq’s unity,” Reuters reported. Baghdad said the Kurds must renounce last month’s independence referendum before any talks can take place.

North Korea threatened again to launch ballistic missiles near Guam, the Times reported. The provocation came as the U.S. and South Korea prepared for joint naval exercises involving a U.S. aircraft carrier. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called the North Korean crisis “manageable” and said “let’s hope that diplomacy works,” the Post reported. Kelly maintained the U.S. position that a North Korean nuclear capability to reach the U.S. mainland would be unacceptable but conceded that Pyongyang had made significant progress to that goal.

A Turkish military convoy entered Idlib province in Syria to begin enforcing a “de-escalation zone” around the militant-controlled region, Reuters reported. A group of militants formerly linked to Al Qaeda escorted the convoy to its destination. Russia, Turkey and Syria agreed to create the de-escalation zones last summer to reduce fighting between Turkish-backed rebels and the Russian-backed Syrian government.

Kenya’s government banned protests in advance of what is likely to be its second disputed presidential election in as many months, the Post reported. Authorities said protests from supporters of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who withdrew from the election earlier this week, threatened public order. Odinga said the upcoming vote would not be fair and that recently-enacted electoral laws and policies favored incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta.

The U.S. will leave UNESCO in parallel with Israel, the Journal reported. The State Department said the agency’s “anti-Israel bias” prompted its withdrawal from the culture and heritage organization.

When compromising Australian defense systems, hackers obtained data about U.S. warplanes, the Journal reported. The cyber intrusion exposed weapons systems information from upcoming F-35 and Boeing-built maritime surveillance jet transfers to Australia. Australia’s signals intelligence chief said that “all classified F-35 information was protected and remains secure.”

A group of German foreign-policy experts published a manifesto titled “In Spite of it all, America” that urges Germany to maintain close ties with the U.S.

Khalid Qassim, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, wrote about his ongoing hunger strike and his treatment from the U.S. military.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Herb Lin argued that the real threat from Kaspersky software is not merely spying on U.S. government employees but the vast trove of data it might be stealing from everyone else.

Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norm Eisen responded to Lawfare’s analysis of their report on President Trump and the obstruction of justice.

Ganesh Sitaraman and Ingrid Wuerth argued that “national security deference” should not influence federal courts to concede to the government in litigation over the travel ban.

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