The Soufan Group Morning Brief



During a surprise visit to Baghdad, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced plans to send 217 more U.S. military advisers to Iraq to help plan, train, and support Iraqi troops in the fight against ISIS. Carter also said the U.S. military will deploy several Apache attack helicopters and long-range artillery to support the Iraqi army as it prepares for its campaign to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from ISIS. New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News

The Atlantic: The Fight Against ISIS in Mosul
Foreign Policy: More U.S. Commandos, Choppers, Bases, Hacking ISIS
NY Mag: America Is Pledging More Troops and $415 Million to Iraq to Help Fight ISIS
Guardian: Pentagon increases US troops and financial aid in fight against Isis
The Hill: Defense chief: Iraqis 'still in the lead' against ISIS

In response to the transfer of nine Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia over the weekend, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said that the Obama administration “unnecessarily put Americans at increased risk in order to fulfill a misguided campaign promise.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) claimed that Saudi Arabia’s “track record in preventing Guantanamo detainees from returning to the battlefield is poor.” The Hill

Capitol Hill plot: A federal judge ruled on Monday that a man accused of planning a terror attack on Capitol Hill appears competent to stand trial. 22-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell was arrested in January for allegedly purchasing weapons and planning to build bombs to attack the U.S. Capitol building in support of ISIS. A defense psychologist strongly recommended that Cornell should be re-evaluated before standing trial, as he has reportedly been overwhelmed by depression and has expressed suicidal thoughts. Washington Post

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both released statements in support of a proposed bill that would allow families of victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments. The bill was drafted in response to suspicions over the 28 classified pages included in the 9/11 Commission report which some allege will link the Saudi Arabian government to the attacks. President Obama opposes the measure, and the administration has reportedly signaled it would veto the bill if passed. New York Times

NBC News: Secret 28 Pages of 9/11 Report Under New Scrutiny
The Hill: White House signals veto on Saudi 9/11 bill

Representatives from the Syrian opposition withdrew from UN-sponsored talks in Geneva on Monday citing “worrisome” new violence near the northern city of Aleppo and a drop in humanitarian aid to besieged areas. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said that he will continue “technical” discussions via telephone with the opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, in an effort to find a political solution to the over five-year-long conflict. New York Times, Associated Press

BBC News: Syria conflict: Rebels vow retaliatory attacks against government

Afghanistan: A Taliban suicide bomb and gun attack killed at least 28 people and wounded more than 320 others on Tuesday. The attack occurred near a government security office in central Kabul during rush hour on Tuesday morning. Last week the Taliban announced the start of its spring offensive against Afghan security forces. New York Times, Reuters

Burundi: The United Nations reported on Monday that Burundi security forces are torturing and detaining increasing numbers of people as part of a government crackdown on political opponents. UN investigators found at least 345 cases of torture and ill treatment by government security forces since the beginning of 2016. The country has been mired in conflict since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his plan to run for a third presidential term. New York Times, Newsweek

Israel: On Monday, a bomb exploded on a bus during rush hour, wounding at least 21 people in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled the explosion as a terrorist attack, yet no group took responsibility for the bombing. New York Times, CNN

Refugee crisis: Somalia’s government said on Monday that at least 200 of its citizens may have drowned while attempting the cross the Mediterranean Sea, after their boat capsized off of the Egyptian shore. Reports indicated that refugees from Ethiopia and Eritrea were on board as well. Reuters, The Independent
Is it possible that Al Nusra and ISIL will join forces?: “Apparent ideological similarities between Al Qaeda and ISIL may seem to be a reason for the two to join forces against their enemies,” writes Hassan Hassan in The National. “But, if anything, the two are only drifting further apart. There is space for both to expand in the region and internationally, without having to share their assets.”

The Ever More ‘Complicated’ U.S. Relationship With Saudi Arabia: “While American officials have expressed ambivalence about the Saudi government before, noting the kingdom’s dismal record on human rights and involvement in exporting radical Islamism, there’s a new drumbeat of questions about the value of the relationship,” writes David A. Graham in The Atlantic. “The new mood suits both liberals who have always disliked Saudi Arabia and seen America’s ties to it as cynical, and conservatives who think the kingdom is doing too little to stop terrorism, and may in fact be fomenting it.”

Trump’s Rear-View Politics: “The fact that his campaign slogan says he’ll make America great again tells you Trump’s gaze is firmly in the rearview mirror,” writes Stephen Walt on Foreign Policy. “Unfortunately, nostalgia is a poor guide to choosing a president or constructing a foreign policy. Human memories are notoriously unreliable, and the past that we look back on with fondness was probably nowhere near as idyllic as we now believe it was.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Mission Creep Amid Political Turmoil in Iraq

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host a full-day conference “Hindsight: Reflections on 15 years of The War On Terror” on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. The event is currently full. If you would like to be added to the waitlist please send an email here.

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