Update and Assessment: January 27, 2016

January 27, 2016

Key Takeaways:

  1. Rifts over leadership of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may be evidenced by target selection. A TTP faction attacked a university in Charsadda, Pakistan, killing upwards of 22 people. The TTP's spokesman, Muhammad Khorasani, refuted the claims that this was a TTP attack, indicating it was probably not directed by TTP leader Fazlullah's faction. The head of the TTP Tariq Geedar faction, Umar Mansoor, claimed this attack. Mansoor also claimed the 2014 Peshawar school attack. The TTP supported the 2014 attack, but was heavily criticized by al Qaeda for killing "non-combatants."
  2. Al Qaeda- and ISIS-linked groups may benefit from civil unrest in Tunisia. Widespread unemployment protests broke out in Tunisia, mirroring the inciting events of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution. The suicide of a young protester ignited a week of violent clashes between police and demonstrators, accompanied by rioting, looting, and a nationwide curfew. Civil unrest threatens the weak Tunisian state.
  3. Conservatives within the Iranian regime continue to block reformist activity by disqualifying many of President Hassan Rouhani’s potential allies from the upcoming parliamentary elections in February. While Rouhani strongly criticized the disqualifications in a televised speech, the secretary of the political body responsible for disqualifying candidates asserted that it “will not be affected by pressure” to revise its vetting process. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also defended the disqualifications, asserting that there is “no country in the world” that does not prevent some candidates from running in elections.