Update and Assessment: April 20, 2016

April 20, 2016

Key Takeaways:

  1. Representatives from the al Houthis and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress party (GPC) are refusing to attend UN-led peace talks in Kuwait until the ceasefire is implemented and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against al Houthi-Saleh positions stop. Key Yemeni factions would not have had representation at the Kuwait talks and would have been unlikely to accept a negotiated solution. These factions, which include southern secessionists, would probably continue to fight to secure their interests. [Sign up to receive CTP’s Yemen Crisis Situation Reports by email.]
  2. The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is reconstituting its explosives capabilities in eastern Libya and will use them to deter action against its stronghold in Sirte. ISIS will likely use these capabilities against the Libyan National Army (LNA), which may be assembling a force to attack Sirte, as well as against civilian populations to undermine the LNA in Benghazi. ISIS is conducting similar attacks on Misratan militia positions in western Libya, likely to deter Misratan operations. ISIS will likely attack Libya’s new unity government, too, especially as it becomes the West’s preferred counterterrorism partner in Libya. [See CTP’s backgrounder on forces in Libya and on ISIS’s campaign in Libya.]
  3. ISIS is building a support network in Tunisia to support the establishment of a formal ISIS wilayat in Tunisia. ISIS is attempting to co-opt al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s networks in western Tunisia, where it is developing safe havens from which to conduct attacks in both Tunisia and Algeria. The group is also recruiting heavily in eastern Tunisia’s population centers, where Tunisian security forces recently arrested a deputy mayor for belonging to a pro-ISIS cell, indicating the extent to which ISIS is attempting to infiltrate Tunisian society. [See CTP’s desknote on ISIS’s Tunisian attack cell.]