Secrecy News

Countering the Islamic State, and More from CRS

Some 60 nations and partner organizations have made commitments to help counter the Islamic State with military forces or resources, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

But coalition efforts suffer from a lack of coherence, CRS said. “Without a single authority responsible for prioritizing and adjudicating between different multinational civilian and military lines of effort, different actors often work at cross-purposes without intending to do so.”

CRS tabulated the contributions of each of the coalition partners by country and capability. “Each nation is contributing to the coalition in a manner commensurate with its national interests and comparative advantage, although reporting on nonmilitary contributions tends to be sporadic,” the report said.

“Some illustrative examples of the kinds of counter-IS assistance countries provided as the coalition was being formed in September 2014 include: Switzerland’s donation $9 million in aid to Iraq, Belgium’s contribution of 13 tons of aid to Iraq generally, Italy’s contribution of $2.5 million of weaponry (including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and a million rounds of ammunition), and Japan’s granting of $6 million in emergency aid to specifically help displaced people in Northern Iraq.” See Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State, August 4, 2015.

*

The history and legal status of the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay were reviewed in another new CRS report.

“The origins of the U.S. military installation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, lie in the execution of military operations during the Spanish-American War of April-August of 1898,” the report explained. Subsequent lease agreements signed in 1903 and 1934 “acknowledged Cuban sovereignty” over the site of the military base “but granted to the United States ‘complete jurisdiction and control over’ the property as long as it remained occupied.”

The existing leases “can only be modified or abrogated pursuant to an agreement between the United States and Cuba. The territorial limits of the naval station remain as they were in 1934 unless the United States abandons Guantanamo Bay or the two governments reach an agreement to modify its boundaries. While there appears to be no consensus on whether the President can modify the agreement alone, Congress is empowered to alter by statute the effect of the underlying 1934 treaty. There is no current law that would expressly prohibit the negotiation of lease modifications with the existing government of Cuba.”

However, “Congress has imposed practical impediments to closing the naval station by, for example, restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries.” See Naval Station Guantanamo Bay: History and Legal Issues Regarding Its Lease Agreements, August 4, 2015.

*

Many of the issues raised by the pending Iran nuclear agreement that Congress is likely to consider were itemized and described in another new CRS report obtained by Secrecy News.

“These issues include those related to monitoring and enforcing the agreement itself, how the sanctions relief provided by the agreement would affect Iran’s regional and domestic policies, the implications for regional security, and the potential for the agreement to change the course of U.S.-Iran relations,” the report said.

See Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress, August 6, 2015.

*

Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has declined to make publicly available online include the following.

Procedures for Congressional Action in Relation to a Nuclear Agreement with Iran: In Brief, updated August 5, 2015

Iran Sanctions, updated August 4, 2015

History of the Navy UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike aircraft) Program Requirements: In Brief, August 3, 2015

Federal Support for Reproductive Health Services: Frequently Asked Questions, August 4, 2015

Fetal Tissue Research: Frequently Asked Questions, July 31, 2015

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), updated August 6, 2015

Specialty Drugs: Background and Policy Concerns, August 3, 2015

Social Security: The Trust Funds, updated August 5, 2015

Medicare Financial Status: In Brief, updated August 10, 2015

Presidential Permit Review for Cross-Border Pipelines and Electric Transmission, August 6, 2015

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Highlights of the Final Rule, August 14, 2015

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, updated August 3, 2015

U.S. Trade Concepts, Performance, and Policy: Frequently Asked Questions, updated August 3, 2015

National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background, updated July 31, 2015

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer, updated August 5, 2015