The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2016
SENATE PASSES BILL TO ALLOW 9/11 VICTIM FAMILIES TO SUE SAUDI ARABIA

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role it may have had in the attacks. The White House has threatened to veto the legislation. The Senate’s passage of the bill signals the escalating tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as Saudi officials recently warned that if the legislation is approved, the country may begin selling off up to $750 billion in U.S. Treasury securities. New York Times, CBS, CNN

Related:
The Hill: Aide: 'Difficult to imagine' Obama signing Saudi 9/11 bill

SENATE APPROVES ARMY SECRETARY NOMINEE AFTER DELAY OVER GUANTANAMO
On Tuesday, the Senate approved the nomination of Eric Fanning as the next Secretary of the Army after a lengthy delay over the potential transfer of Guantanamo detainees to American soil. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) dropped his opposition to Fanning’s nomination after he said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told him that no detainees held at Guantanamo would be sent to facilities in the U.S. homeland, including the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Fanning is the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service. New York Times, Associated Press

Gitmo: An Iraqi detainee at Guantanamo Bay who allegedly ran Al Qaeda’s army in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001 has asked to be called by his real name. Abd al Hadi al Iraqi told a judge through his lawyers on Tuesday that he wanted to be called Nashwan al-Tamir. Al-Tamir was deposed in a case in the Southern District of New York under the name Nashwan al-Tamir. Al-Tamir, who was held at a CIA black site before his transfer to Guantanamo in 2007, is the only professionally trained soldier to face the Guantanamo war court, as he served as a non-commissioned officer in Saddam Hussein’s army during the Iran-Iraq War. Miami Herald, Courthouse News Service

Related:
The Hill: GOP chairman: Gitmo detainees sent to 'ill-equipped' countries
Just Security: Can Detainees Plead Their Way Out of Guantánamo?

NSA: The NSA used a “near real-time” intelligence program during the Iraq War to avoid ambushes and reduce American casualties, according to newly declassified information obtained by Fox News. The highly secretive program, called the Real Time Regional Gateway or RT-RG, deployed NSA experts and specialists to the battlefield to gather signals intelligence and provide support to troops on the ground. Fox News

FBI vs. ISIS: The FBI supplied a fake bomb as part of an undercover sting operation against James Medina, who is accused of planning to bomb a synagogue in Aventura, Florida. Legal experts are concerned that an undercover FBI informant may have offered to assist Medina in planning the attacks and even suggested that he connect the planned attack to ISIS. Vice News


BAGHDAD ATTACKS SIGNAL ISIS ON THE DEFENSIVE
ISIS’s recent wave of attacks in Baghdad have killed more than 200 people since last Wednesday. Government officials have claimed that the attacks are a sign of weakness by the extremist group, as the group continues to lose territory to Iraqi forces. However, the attacks are likely to draw police and military units from the front lines of ISIS-held territory to secure Baghdad, slowing the progress of military operations outside of the city. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Syria: Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to block humanitarian aid from reaching besieged areas, then the United States and Russia are prepared to assist the World Food Program to airdrop food and medical supplies. Also, while meeting in Vienna on Tuesday, major power foreign ministers failed to agree to a new date to resume Syrian peace talks. New York Times, Reuters

Libya: AFRICOM commander Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez said Tuesday that Libya’s internal politics make it difficult to determine which armed groups could help in the fight against ISIS. The United States and other allies announced on Monday they would support the lifting of an arms embargo in order to provide weapons to Libyan forces and militias fighting ISIS. Washington Post


Germany: Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, said that children as young as 13 have left for ISIS held territory and are “prepared to stage attacks” in Germany. The German legal system prohibits surveillance of people under 16 years old and those under 14 are held “non-accountable.” NBC

Australia: 18-year-old Tamim Khaja was arrested by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team for allegedly planning an “imminent” attack on sites in Sydney and for planning to join ISIS in Syria. Khaja was charged with planning a terrorist act and preparing for foreign incursions after he allegedly attempted to purchase a suicide vest online. ABC Online, Yahoo News
TOP OP-EDS
What ISIS Women Want: “How can any woman who enjoys democratic rights and equality before the law join or support a group which actively promotes her own oppression?,” writes Simon Cottee on Foreign Policy. “Far from being slaves to their sexual desires or victims of the predatory machinations of men, many Western women join or aspire to join the Islamic State because they want to — because the Islamic State, unlike the secular liberal democracies in which they live, makes sense to them and reflects their fundamental moral and political convictions.”

A Really Bad Deal for America: “Donald J. Trump can be seen as a talented demagogue, or as the manifestation of deep pathologies in the body politic, but he is also the bearer of ideas — crudely framed and sometimes incoherent, but ideas nonetheless. Nowhere is this more true than on foreign policy,” writes Eliot A. Cohen in The New York Times. “Voters should examine Mr. Trump’s statements closely not just because of what they mean for the Republican Party, but what they imply for the two-generation-old American foreign policy consensus.”

The Iran Deal: Myth and Reality: “Critics have done almost nothing to answer the most important questions: What has the nuclear deal actually achieved? And what are its potential shortcomings?,” writes Jeremy Bernstein in The New York Review of Books. The overall impression a recently released IAEA report “gives is that the nuclear arrangements agreed to by Iran are working well. My own view is that the deal has been more successful than I expected, although there are flaws.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Hizballah Bleeds in Syria

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Join the Center on National Security on Wednesday, June 1 for a discussion with Director Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. To RSVP click here




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