Suicide bombing on Lebanon-Syria border; Brexit buyer’s remorse; Iraqi forces control Fallujah; New drone report; And a bit more.
Four suicide bombers detonated at a village on the Lebanon-Syria border this morning, killing at least five people and wounding 15 others, AFP reports. “The first attacker knocked on one of the homes in the village, but after the resident became suspicious, he blew himself up,” a military source told AFP. As people began to treat the wounded, two other bombers struck and a third was reportedly chased away and blew himself up in the process. The village of Al-Qaa lies on a main road linking the Syrian town of Al-Qusayr to Lebanon's eastern Bekaa valley.
The attack at Al-Qaa comes nearly a day after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for last Tuesday’s car bombing at a Jordanian refugee camp near the Syrian border that killed seven Jordanian border guards, Reuters reported Sunday night. “It was the first such assault targeting Jordan from Syria since Syria's descent into conflict in 2011 and followed an attack on June 6 on a security office near the Jordanian capital Amman in which five people, including three Jordanian intelligence officers, were killed.”
Confirming what we pretty much already guessed, CIA arms to Syrian rebels wound up on the black market thanks to some crooked Jordanian intelligence officers, The New York Times and al-Jazeera co-reported Sunday. What’s more, some of these American-supplied weapons were used in November’s attack in Jordan that killed two U.S. security contractors, along with three others, in Amman.
Before we leave this particular region of the Levant, many are still wondering who killed Hezbollah’s military leader with a very precise explosion in Damascus one month ago? Initial signs from Hezbollah pointed to Israel, but the group quickly walked back that accusation. Why? The group very nearly has its hands tied with fighting in Syria and can’t exactly afford to widen its warring to include more activity aimed at Israeli troops. At any rate, certainty as to who was behind the hit and how exactly Mustafa Badreddine was killed remains elusive. But signs now point to the U.S., officials tell The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris.
Brexit buyer's remorse? The pound continued to plummet on Monday in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union and the financial and political turmoil that has followed. BBC: “Banks, airlines and banks were hardest hit with sharp falls causing a momentary halt for some shares as automatic circuit breakers kicked in.”
The Washington Post: “Before an E.U. summit in Brussels on Tuesday, some members have urged Britain to begin the exit talks as soon as possible. Financial policymakers and others, meanwhile, worry that dragging out the British break could bring further uncertainties that have already taken a toll on global markets.”
Meanwhile millions of Brits have signed a petition to hold another referendum vote. More on that here.
And then there’s the political mess that has unfolded. From WaPo: “Sunday opened with news that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had fired one of the most senior members of his leadership team, Hilary Benn, after Benn told the leader he had lost confidence in him. The sacking of Benn led to a succession of resignations by other members of the Labour cabinet. By late in the day, at least 10 others had quit their positions in what amounted to a rolling repudiation of Corbyn’s leadership by his elected colleagues.”
On a lighter note—Spotted in Target just outside downtown DC over the weekend: a DVD of the movie “London has Fallen” positioned in prime location near the checkout register.
From Defense One
Why do Brexit and Trump still shock national security elites? Asks Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron. “In the United States, nearly every serious national security leader in Washington is against a Commander in Chief Donald Trump. Even the GOP leaders coming out to vote for their nameless ‘party nominee’ say they worry most about Trump’s national-security stances, like banning Muslims, being willing to use nuclear weapons against the Islamic State, scrapping NATO. And yet, Trump lives. And Brexit happened. Why are you still shocked? You haven’t seen this coming for more than a year? A decade? Two decades?”
The way ahead from here: “If you think your positions on national security are right – meaning, good for the country – then you need to do a much better job of convincing the American electorate. White papers, conferences, and policy summits (like we at Defense One proudly stage) help you do some of your job in town. But outside the Beltway, the country doesn’t hear you and feels left out. Find a way to reach them, and you just might be able to change their minds. Or, better yet, not have to.” Read the rest, here.
America’s Brexit is coming, writes The Atlantic’s Yoni Applebaum: “Whether Donald Trump produces a similar success in November may depend less on what he does between now and then than the way the political elites he is challenging—in his own party, and on the other side of the aisle—choose to respond.” Read the rest, here.
Welcome to the Monday Brexit hangover edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Marcus Weisgerber. On this day in 1950, U.S. President Harry Truman ordered American air and naval troops to South Korea to repel an invasion by communist North Korea. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brexit is undoubtedly a win for Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, writing in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post. “Europe is now weakening as Russia, its allies and its multilateral organizations are consolidating, even adding new members. Putin, of course, did not cause the Brexit vote, but he and his foreign policy objectives stand to gain enormously from it.” McFaul lays out four looming tests of Western unity in his take, here.
Meantime, Russian diplomats stand accused of—among other things—taking a dump on the couch of U.S. diplomats in Europe, WaPo’s Josh Rogin writes this morning. “Some of the intimidation has been routine: following diplomats or their family members, showing up at their social events uninvited or paying reporters to write negative stories about them. But many of the recent acts of intimidation by Russian security services have crossed the line into apparent criminality. In a series of secret memos sent back to Washington, described to me by several current and former U.S. officials who have written or read them, diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.”
The White House’s drone report is coming (possibly as early as this week), and it’s expected to announce nearly 100 civilians have died in roughly 500 U.S. drone strikes across the globe since 2009, NBC News reported this weekend. “That is a far lower estimate than those of the three major independent groups that seek to track the secret operations in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube write. “The highest estimate among those groups puts civilian casualties from drones at over 1,000. The disclosure, which is expected to cite an estimated range of civilian deaths lower and higher than 100, represents the latest attempt by the president to fulfill his promises to be more transparent about the controversial secret killing program he ramped up when he took office. Despite those vows, officials continue to release very little information about the targets and circumstances of each lethal strike.”
Expect push-back. “The disparity in the civilian casualty numbers, however, is likely to fuel the debate about whether U.S. officials can be trusted to grade their own work based on evidence no one else can see,” Dilanian and Kube add. Read the rest, here.
Iraqi troops have taken “full control” of Fallujah, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced this weekend as part of his message admonishing Iraqis to all collectively mark the occasion. “I call on all Iraqis wherever they are to get out and celebrate,” Abadi said on state TV (with an Iraqi flag around his neck) while standing in front of Fallujah's main hospital. “If true,” al-Jazeera writes, this leaves Mosul as “the last remaining major hub of ISIL.”
Special report alert: Get to better know the “generational and global challenge” of foreign fighters stemming from Tunisia, often referred to as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, thanks to Haim Malka and Margo Balboni of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They’ve put together a series of very helpful explainers diving into the phenomenon—as well as what distinguishes Salafism from Wahhabism, among other frequently relevant factors sometimes glossed over in analysis of Islamic extremism across North Africa and Middle East. Worth your time and your click, here.