Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru
Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 11:58 AM

The Iranian government has threatened a harsher response to protesters as citizens staged the largest anti-government demonstrations since 2009, the New York Times reports. Although Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the rights of the protesters, other officials’ statements and the growing security-service presence suggest that a crackdown may be imminent. At least 21 people have died in clashes between demonstrators and government forces in protests that have criticized an array of Iran’s political and economic policies. President Donald Trump has publicly supported the protesters, including in a tweet Tuesday morning in which he called the Iranian regime “brutal and corrupt” and said that “The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights.”

South Korea has agreed to direct talks with North Korea following Kim Jong-un’s proposal on Monday, in a move that may exacerbate tensions with the United States, the Times reports. Experts say Kim may hope to undermine the U.S.-South Korean relationship, which has been increasingly strained by support for divergent strategies. While Trump has argued for harsher sanctions and has opposed talks without proof of a path to denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been more open to dialogue. South Korea says it will closely coordinate its decisions with the United States.

Pakistan’s foreign minister summoned the United States’ ambassador in his country on Tuesday following a tweet from Donald Trump on Monday that accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit,” CBS reports. Protests broke out in Karachi, where demonstrators burned the American flag and chanted anti-American slogans. The United States has criticized Pakistan for not doing enough to prevent militant operations in neighboring Afghanistan; the U.S. government is currently withholding a $255 million military assistance package. A National Security Council official said the White House is holding the aid as “the administration continues to review Pakistan's level of cooperation.”

The Islamic State is reverting to guerilla-style terror attacks as it continues to lose territory, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the U.S.-led coalition, the shift in tactics is predictable, given the group’s “terrorist roots.” The coalition says that fewer than 3,000 fighters remain and that coalition forces are hunting most of them in desert regions of Syria.

Israel’s Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has made moves which diminish the possibility of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Times notes. In a unanimous but nonbinding vote, the Likud central committee supported the application of Israeli law in “all liberated areas of settlement” in the West Bank. Critics say this would take land that Palestinians see as key for a potential future state. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, issued a directive that requires new legislation to include an explanation of its application in the West Bank. Additionally, the Israeli parliament passed a measure that would make it more difficult to cede any part of Jerusalem to a foreign entity. Experts say the flurry of activity may stem from a belief that increased U.S. support has created an opening to take steps that reduce the likelihood of a two-state solution.

Trump suggested in a tweet that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin should be jailed after classified State Department emails were found on the laptop of Abedin’s now-estranged husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, Politico reports. Those emails were released last week through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The FBI disclosed that it was examining the emails in the final two weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, but the emails did not change the FBI’s decision to refrain from recommending criminal charges against Clinton for the use of her private email server.

ICYMI: Last Weekend on Lawfare

Vanessa Sauter posted the Lawfare Podcast featuring our contributors answering a wide range of listener questions.

Carrie Cordero examined developments in President Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community over the past year.

Jeffrey Smith critiqued Trump’s words and actions that threaten core American institutions.

Bob Bauer considered how Trump’s encroachment on the Justice Department may erode the norm of the independence of federal law enforcement.

Benjamin Wittes analyzed Trump’s past year and his lackluster war on the Deep State.

Paul Rosenzweig evaluated Trump’s year in cybersecurity.

Jack Goldsmith argued that Justice Department rules and norms and the vigilance of the American people would prevent Trump from terminating the Mueller investigation.

Bobby Chesney announced the winners of the Mike Lewis Prize for National Security Law Scholarship.

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.