The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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Editor’s Note: There will be no Morning Brief on Monday, September 5th in recognition of the Labor Day holiday. We will be back Tuesday, September 6th.


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2016
CONTROVERSIAL THINK TANK REPORT FINDS IRAN WAS GIVEN ‘SECRET’ EXEMPTIONS FOLLOWING NUCLEAR DEAL

The United States and its negotiating partners agreed “in secret” to allow Iran to exceed agreed-upon restrictions and caps of stockpiles of enriched uranium and other materials in last year’s landmark nuclear deal, according to a think tank report published on Thursday. The report, authored by David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former UN weapons inspector, said “the exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran,” according to information provided by several government officials involved in the negotiations. White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded saying “the argument that somehow this agreement was implemented before Iran came into compliance is just not true….Right now as we speak, Iran is in compliance with the agreement….That’s not my opinion, that’s not rhetoric, that’s not conjecture. That is a fact that is verified by international experts.” Washington Post, Reuters, The Hill

Related:
The Hill: White House pushes back on Iran pact

U.S. SET TO APPROVE FIGHTER JET SALES TO QATAR AND KUWAIT
The United States is set to approve the sale of $7 billion worth of Boeing fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait, according to an exclusive report by Reuters. The sales have been delayed for several years due to concerns raised by Israel that the military equipment could be used against it. Reuters

Gitmo: A former Guantanamo detainee who was resettled in Uruguay is planning a hunger strike to demand he be allowed to leave the country. Syrian national Abu Wa’el Dhiab went missing from Uruguay for several weeks before turning up in Venezuela. He was deported back to Uruguay earlier this week. Dhiab is reportedly unhappy living in Uruguay, as he is finding it difficult to adjust to life after Guantanamo and seeks to reunite with his family in Turkey. Washington Post, Miami Herald
 
Illinois: An 18-year-old man is facing charges of making a terrorist threat and providing material support to a terrorist organization after police say he planned to carry out attacks on two venues in Madison County, Illinois. Keaun Cook was arrested last week at his family’s home in Godfrey, IL. If convicted, he faces up to 70 years in prison. CBS, NBC


FBI BRIEFS ELECTION STAFFS ON THREAT OF FOREIGN SPIES
On Thursday, the FBI held “voluntary awareness briefings” warning about foreign spies for staffers in both Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns. The briefings laid out best practices in preventing contact with spies. The move was reportedly “not precipitated by any particular [or known] threat.” ABC, The Hill

Related:
The Hill: Clinton wins endorsement of two retired four-star generals


U.S. TROOPS ACTIVE IN IRAQ IN PREPARATION FOR MOSUL OPERATION
U.S. troops have been increasingly active in northern Iraq over the last several weeks as they prepare to support Kurdish and Iraqi forces in their attempt to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from ISIS. “We move around a lot. We’ve been all over the country,” said one U.S. serviceman who has been assisting Iraqi army engineers in repairing a bridge across the Great Zab river, about 30 miles southeast of Mosul. Reuters

Related:
New York Times: Kurds Fear the U.S. Will Again Betray Them, in Syria

Afghanistan: Militia forces loyal to Afghanistan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum fought in a gun battle with a group of northern Tajik protesters in Kabul on Thursday. One person was killed and several others were wounded in the clashes. New York Times


Turkey: On Thursday, two top European Union officials called on Turkey to amend its harsh anti-terrorism laws so that the EU can lift visa restrictions on the country, which is a key part of a deal to manage the refugee crisis in Europe. Turkish officials refused to consider changing the laws, which have been used to crackdown on critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following last month’s failed coup attempt. AP, AFP

Russia: On Thursday, the United States sanctioned companies involved in the construction of a multi-billion dollar bridge that will link Russia with the annexed territory of Crimea. The Treasury Department added dozens of individuals and companies to its blacklist including several subsidiaries of Russian gas company Gazprom, 11 Crimean officials, and seven other companies involved in building the nearly 12-mile road-and-rail connection across the Kerch Strait, known colloquially as “Putin’s Bridge.” Reuters

Pakistan: Pakistan’s military said on Thursday that it has stopped ISIS’s attempts to expand its operations in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have arrested more than 300 people involved in planning terrorist attacks on government, diplomatic, and civilian targets, according to officials. Reuters
TOP OP-EDS
A shaky holding operation in Afghanistan: “Afghanistan is in the grip of chaos caused not only by the advance of the Taliban and its foreign terrorist allies during their summer offensive but also by a leadership crisis in Kabul that has permeated down to the regular and irregular armed forces deployed by the government, widened the country’s ethnic and political divide and helped worsen the economic meltdown,” writes Ahmed Rashid in the Financial Times. “The season has seen a dire security situation — yet the US seems reluctant to admit how bad it has become.”

Donald Trump Is Dangerously Wrong on the Immigration-Terror Link: “In making his case that the United States is hurtling toward catastrophe, Donald J. Trump has spun more than a few myths. One of his favorites is that our borders are sieves, and terrorists are streaming in,” write Betsy Cooper and Daniel Benjamin on TIME. “The most obvious counter to Trump’s narrative is to note that not a single terrorism-related death since 9/11 was caused by foreign operatives coming into the country to cause violence—from Fort Hood to Orlando, the killings were all caused by citizens and green card holders.”

Al Qaeda Is Gaining Strength in Syria: “The struggle for Aleppo poses an awful threat for the United States. The ongoing battle for what was once Syria’s second-largest city has united two of the most prominent opposition coalitions. Their goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” write Jennifer Cafarella, Nicholas Heras, and Genevieve Casagrande on Foreign Policy. “But there’s one more thing they have in common — neither has ever received significant help from Washington in their joint effort to break a nearly month-long siege of opposition-controlled areas of the city and conquer the rest of it….Al Qaeda has filled the breach left by the absence of the United States.”
EDITOR'S PICK

WEEKLY PODCAST
Spycast: When COIN Works: An Interview With Tom Ordeman

SOUFAN GROUP
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