Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tara Hofbauer
Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 12:53 PM

President Obama has begun stumping for the recently negotiated Iran nuclear deal. On Saturday, he gave an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman. Meanwhile, yesterday, he spoke with NPR’s Steve Inskeep. Their discussion touched on enriched uranium, international sanctions, and Israeli concerns, before concluding with a question on Cuba.

Vox explains how international negotiators were able to reach an agreement, which had “seemed impossible.” In essence, leaders had to see beyond what each side was demanding to find the main issues driving those demands. “For the Americans, it was keeping Iran from being able to build a nuclear bomb. For the Iranians, it was a sense of national pride and sovereignty.”

Yesterday, Yuval Steinetz, Israel’s minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, outlined specific provisions that his country believes crucial to the conclusion of a successful nuclear deal. The list signals a change in tack for Jerusalem, which until now, has never listed the terms of the “better deal” it wants the P5+1 nuclear negotiators to reach. The Times details the intelligence minister’s “list of desired modifications.”

However, in the Washington Post, Brookings’ Daniel Drezner explains why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not really an important player with regard to the Iran deal.

The Times Editorial Board argues that upon the conclusion of a nuclear deal with Iran, global powers should turn their attention to Pakistan, which owns “the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal.”

According to the Daily Beast, recently released Google Image photos show that the Islamic Republic has developed a drone and submarine base at Bandar-e Jask, “an Iranian naval base just southeast of the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz.” Although this activity does not likely point toward future offensive action against the U.S. or its interests, it does demonstrate that Tehran’s military is beginning to operate “farther outside their historic comfort zones.”

Meanwhile, the Post reports that Iranian investments in civilian technology infrastructure signal “end to isolation.”

The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, as supplies of food, water, and medicine dwindle. The Wall Street Journal details the crisis.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has reached out to Pakistan, looking for contributions of planes, ships, and soldiers to the Arab campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The ask may indicate that Riyadh intends to expand its involvement in the affairs of its southern neighbor. The Times reports.

The Aviationist provides video footage of Arab coalition jets conducting airstrikes in Yemen, while Reuters shares photos, which depict the destruction caused by such attacks.

Based on data recently released by CENTCOM, Defense One shares a series of graphs that depict the number and type of airstrikes conducted in Iraq and Syria by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Worth noting: “The U.S. military’s share of the air campaign against ISIS is holding steady.”

Yesterday began the excavation of twelve mass grave sites near Tikrit, which are believed to collectively contain the remains of as many as 1,700 Iraqi soldiers killed by Islamic State militants last June. Reuters has the story.

Fighting broke out yesterday between Palestinian fighters and Islamic State militants in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The violence prompted an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Notes U.N. spokesperson Chris Gunness, “The situation in the camp is beyond inhumane.” The Associated Press reports.

Al-Shabab: “They have no fleet of armored personnel carriers like Boko Haram’s. Or poppy fields like the Taliban’s. Or oil fields like the Islamic State’s.” But according to the Times, “they have become proficient in something terrible: mass murder on the cheap.” The militant group has changed its tactics since its “golden age” roughly five years ago, and defeating them will take time and potentially a new global strategy.

In advance of his trip to South Korea and Japan this week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke at Arizona State University’s McCain Institute yesterday. The Wall Street Journal notes that Secretary Carter “struck a tough pose” in what were “his first major remarks on China as defense secretary.” See the full transcript of the speech here.

The Times explains how Russian President Vladimir Putin has been bribing and cajoling European Union leaders, in an effort to disrupt the coalition of nations that have levied economic sanctions against Moscow. EU sanctions require the approval of all 28 member states, and “the pressure for a rupture is building.” In the Kremlin’s crosshairs: Cyprus, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its failure to address privacy concerns in its recently proposed regulations for commercial drones. The Wall Street Journal reports.

Closing arguments were held yesterday in the case against alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to the Post, federal prosecutors sought to depict Tsarnaev “as a cold-blooded killer... a determined terrorist seeking to commit violent jihad.” Meanwhile, defense attorneys implored jurors, “We ask you to hold your minds open.”

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Ben shared John Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden.

Jen Williams and Yishai Schwartz posted the most recent “Middle East Ticker,” which included topics ranging from social media in Turkey to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Yishai then examined the meaning of the word “implement,” as used in the Iran nuclear framework agreement.

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