Today's Headlines and Commentary

Rishabh Bhandari
Monday, July 11, 2016, 4:03 PM

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the United States will send an additional 560 troops to Iraq as Iraqi and U.S. security forces close in on recapturing Mosul from the Islamic State. The announcement came a day after Carter met with senior Iraqi officials and U.S. military commanders to evaluate the ongoing mission’s progress, stating that, “at every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat.” Roughly 6,000 U.S.

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the United States will send an additional 560 troops to Iraq as Iraqi and U.S. security forces close in on recapturing Mosul from the Islamic State. The announcement came a day after Carter met with senior Iraqi officials and U.S. military commanders to evaluate the ongoing mission’s progress, stating that, “at every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat.” Roughly 6,000 U.S. troops will now be in Iraq after this transfer is finalized. For more on the campaign and the coalition’s strategy for defeating the Islamic State, the Washington Post has you covered.

Ben Wedeman reports for CNN on the preparations made by Iraqi forces to recapture Mosul, examining whether it will be feasible for the coalition to seize Mosul before the calendar year ends. He also flags the major humanitarian challenges that will emerge with the liberation of Iraq’s second city.

Agence France-Presse flags a new report from the IHS that claims the Islamic State has lost a quarter of its territory to hostile forces in the last 18 months. The so-called caliphate’s revenue stream has also fallen from roughly $80 million a month in mid-2015 to $56 million a month by March 2016. IHS analysts wrote that as the Islamic State’s territorial and economic losses mount, the terrorist organization will likely encourage more lone wolf and terrorist attacks in the periphery. Hassan Hassan makes a similar case in the New York Times, going so far as to ask whether the Islamic State is “unstoppable?”

Fighting in Aleppo between Syrian regime forces and rebels has intensified after the end of a three-day truce to mark the end of Ramadan. Al Jazeera reports that the government successfully captured a vital supply line into the city on Sunday in the face of a rebel counterattack. In response, according to Reuters, rebels launched an attack against government positions in Aleppo’s city center. Aleppo—which was Syria’s largest city before the civil war—has been a major battleground since war broke out five years ago.

The family of Marie Colvin, a journalist who died in Syria four years ago, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a U.S. court charging the Syrian regime with deliberately killing her. Colvin and the French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the besieged city of Homs while reporting on the civil war. The lawsuit claims the Syrian government launched rockets against the make-shift studio where Colvin and other reporters were living and working. The suit alleges the attack was part of a plan to silence local and international media “as part of its effort to crush political opposition.”

The son of Osama bin Laden pledged in an online video to take revenge for his father’s death against the United States. Hamza bin Laden promised to continue al Qaeda’s fight in a 21-minute video entitled, “We are all Osama.” Brookings’ Bruce Riedel said Hamza has the youth, biography, and charisma to provide a shot in the arm for al Qaeda at a time when the organization has lagged behind other terrorist groups in attracting new recruits and enthusiasm. Reuters has more.

Reuters also discloses that the Islamic State’s foothold in Afghanistan has contracted over the past year as U.S. airstrikes have paved the way for Afghan security forces to make advances on the ground. But Afghan commanders told reporters the Islamic State are both well-funded and also are exploiting the porosity of the country’s border with Pakistan.

The Associated Press recorded North Korea’s threat to take unspecified “powerful” measures over a U.S. plan to deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea. Pyongyang viewed the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) System as a blow to its national security, a view that both Moscow and Beijing have also articulated. South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said she agreed to hosting a THAAD system despite strenuous objections from China and Russia because North Korea has repeatedly threatened to launch nuclear and missile attacks on the South.

Josh Rogin writes in the Washington Post that President Barack Obama is planning to emphasize nuclear nonproliferation as his presidency nears the end. Nuclear nonproliferation has been an area of deep interest for Obama since his college days, and he used his first major foreign policy address in Prague to call for a world without nuclear weapons. The administration is mulling a number of actions that do not need congressional approval such as declaring a “no-first use” posture or calling for a U.N. Security Council Resolution affirming a ban on testing nuclear weapons.

Foreign Policy analyzes what will happen to Britain’s nuclear deterrent if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom. The country’s Trident submarines are all based in Scotland, and it would take both years and billions of pounds to build another facility that can house the vessels.

Defense One also profiles the need for NATO members to upgrade their capacity to wage anti-submarine warfare against an adversary such as Russia. Moscow has been increasingly audacious in demonstrating its submarine capabilities and European defense budget cuts after the Cold War have led to an uncomfortable asymmetry.

South Sudan’s president and vice president ordered their rival forces to cease hostilities on Monday. Fighting erupted four days ago, and threatened to pull the nascent country back into a civil war. In response to the conflict, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the country. Experts called for the two sides to demobilize and better integrate the remaining forces. Reuters has more.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a major boost when his ruling coalition won a landslide victory on Sunday for parliament’s upper house. The public vote of confidence comes at a time when the economy is stuttering. Though Abe has spoken about the need for Japan to amend its constitution to permit Tokyo to play a more muscular role on the global stage, both Abe and party officials rushed to clarify that economic reforms and the continued implementation of “Abenomics” more broadly remained the core priority.

A top Chinese Communist Party official said that Beijing’s internationally unpopular maritime claims in the South China Sea should not be discussed at a major summit between Asian and European leaders in Mongolia next week. The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will be the first high-profile multilateral discussion after a the expected ruling of an international tribunal against Chinese maritime claims on July 12. China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said tensions in the South China Sea only exist because of interference by external powers such as the United States. The Associated Press adds that the Chinese diplomatic corps have intensified their opposition to the tribunal’s legitimacy as the verdict looms closer.

Secretary Hillary Clinton rejected the FBI’s claims she was “extremely careless” with the private email system she employed as secretary of state, despite testimony by FBI Director James Comey that hackers may have infiltrated her account. Comey also acknowledged that Clinton’s sworn testimony repeatedly diverged from the information she provided to the FBI in a closed interview.

The Washington Post flags an online application that uses artificial intelligence to study social media and identify rumblings of unrest before alerting the public. The application is run by an individual digital vigilante who operates under the moniker, “The Jester,” and has targeted Islamic State propaganda in the past.

The United States said on Sunday it had transferred a Yemeni prisoner to Italy from the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay. The news means only 78 prisoners remain at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman was approved for transfer nearly six years ago by six U.S. agencies - the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States has struggled to persuade other nations to accept the prisoners in part because of the risk that they could launch attacks. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald also has a story about another Guantanamo Bay inmate, Muhammed al Ghanim, who was cleared on Friday by the relevant parole board. The board recommended that the inmate be transferred to a Persian Gulf country with “reintegration support” rather than his homeland of Yemen.

In The Atlantic, David Graham explores the philosophical and legal implications of the Dallas Police Department’s use of a robot to kill the Dallas shooting suspect by bomb after the breakdown of negotiations.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Asher Berman assessed the possible unintended consequences of the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces’ successes on the battlefield in northern and eastern Syria.

Benjamin Wittes posted the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast, removing the superfluous grandstanding and presenting only the juiciest parts of FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the House Oversight and Governance Reform Committee.

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Rishabh Bhandari graduated from Yale College with degrees in History and Global Affairs. His senior thesis focused on the decision making of the Nixon administration in response to the 1971 Bengali Genocide. He is pursuing a doctorate in international relations at Oxford University.

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