The Soufan Group Morning Brief


FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2016

The  Syrian National Coalition opposition group called for the United States to suspend airstrikes after it issued an ultimatum to ISIS fighters to leave the recently recaptured city of Manjib within the next 48 hours. The measure is an effort to “protect civilian lives” only days after a suspected U.S. airstrike killed at least 56 civilians just north of Manbij on Tuesday, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.New York Times, The Telegraph, Voice of America

Washington Post: An airstrike in Syria killed entire families instead of ISIS fighters
NBC: Levi Shirley, American Fighting ISIS in Syria, Killed in Combat: Family

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that “the tide has turned” in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and that the U.S.-led coalition against the group wants to do more “and we want to do it faster.” Kerry’s comments came after a meeting with around 40 defense and foreign affairs chiefs from countries in the U.S.-led coalition. Reuters, Washington Post

Snowden: Edward Snowden said on Thursday that he plans to help develop a new modified version of Apple’s iPhone for journalists who are concerned they are the target of government surveillance. Snowden made the announcement via video chat at a conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. New York Times

Gitmo: Walid Bin Attash, an alleged 9/11 plot deputy, was ejected from a pretrial hearing at the Guantanamo war court on Thursday after shouting at the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl. Pohl is considering whether Bin Attash can ably defend himself in a death-penalty trial. Miami Herald

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that he plans to restructure the Turkish armed forces in order to prevent another coup attempt. Erdogan also urged his supporters to maintain their presence in public spaces, where they have shown their support for the president against the coup attempt. Erdogan said “do not abandon the heroic resistance you have put up for your country, homeland and flag.” New York Times, Reuters

Libya: Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government clashed with ISIS militants in the city of Sirte on Thursday, killing 13 ISIS fighters and wounding more than 110 others. The government-backed forces have reduced ISIS territory to a small area in the center of the city after rapid gains from a military offensive to retake the coastal territory that began in May. Reuters

Mali: On Thursday, fighting broke out between a coalition of Tuareg rebels and a Tuareg group supportive of the Malian government. The clashes occurred in the northern city of Kidal between the government-allied militia GATIA and the Coordination of Azawad Movements, a coalition of rebel groups seeking autonomy from the government. AP

France: Investigators believe Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had planned his assault several months in advance and had received assistance from at least five other people. French prosecutors said there is no evidence directly linking Bouhlel or any of his accomplices to ISIS. New York Times, Reuters

Brazil: Brazilian authorities arrested 10 people on Thursday suspected of belonging to an ISIS-linked group that threatened terrorist attacks on the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes described the poorly organized group, called the Defenders of Sharia, as “absolutely amateur.” New York Times, Reuters

Saudi Arabia: On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned of a “potential, imminent threat” against U.S. citizens in the coastal city of Jeddah. The announcement was sent as a  “security message” on the embassy’s website, the second highest alert after an emergency message. Washington Post

Current and former U.S. officials claim that a recent ISIS attack on the Prophet Mohammed mosque in Medina shows how the group is now directly challenging Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. One senior U.S. counterterrorism official commented on the attack saying “the Saudi King’s tiles include Protector of the two Holy Cities....The message of the attack is that that protection doesn't exist.” NBC
Does Trump’s America First policy mean Allies Last?: “There is a new Trump doctrine in foreign and security affairs emerging: be unpredictable about everything. In general, there is something to be said for an element of uncertainty. Potential spoilers and adversaries should not be able to anticipate every single response to their different advances. So far, I guess Henry Kissinger would agree,” writes Carl Bildt in the Washington Post. “But in some respects there has to be certainty: The United States has to stand by its allies and friends. If this is put into question, the entire international order, built step by step during more than half a century, will start to crumble. Others will advance, and the United States will retreat.”

Fewer Nukes Could Make the World Less Safe: “ If stockpiles decline to the point that one side thinks it can wipe out the other with a first strike and suffer an acceptable level of retaliatory damage, the situation becomes unstable. Each side has an incentive to risk an attack,” writes Noah Smith on Bloomberg View. “Improvements in the U.S. ability to track nuclear-armed submarines contribute to this danger, since that raises the tantalizing possibility of destroying the enemy’s second-strike capability in a surprise assault.”

France at War: “France is hurtling toward a presidential election that will bring more hostility, fear, and division, and be fought against the expectation of further attacks. In the meantime, the racial profiling and frisking of Arabs in the street, the police raids in the middle of the night—these will intensify, contributing to further alienation of French Muslims,” writes Christopher de Bellaigue in the New York Review of Books. “Under the state of emergency, prefects have been able to order house searches, confine people to their homes, shut mosques, and ban assemblies without a court order.”

CFR: Turkey Update: Erdogan’s Outlook and the Consequences of the Failed Coup

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Two Tragedies in Manbij

Out Now: Karen Greenberg's newest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, is the definitive account of how America's War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.

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