Update and Assessment: June 24, 2015

June 24, 2015

Key Takeaways:

  1. The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham’s (ISIS) Wilayat Sana’a may have begun a Ramadan vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) campaign targeting the al Houthis in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. The group claimed credit for four simultaneous bombings on the first day of Ramadan and has continued VBIED attacks in the capital that ISIS has framed as part of a campaign in its messaging. ISIS is probably seeking to inflame sectarian tensions in Yemen and elicit an overreaction from the al Houthis.
  2. The Iranian regime continued to stress that it has not compromised on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s nuclear redlines ahead of the June 30 deadline to reach a final deal with the P5+1. Khamenei highlighted four key red lines for a final nuclear agreement in a June 23 speech: Iran will not accept a “long-term limitation [on enrichment] of 10-12 years;” there will be no limitations “on [nuclear] research, development, and construction” during the period limiting enrichment; the UN Security Council, Congress, and U.S. government economic sanctions must be removed “immediately after the signing of the agreement;” and there will be no inspections of military sites, interviews with Iranian scientists, or other “unconventional” inspections.
  3. Al Qaeda-linked groups in West Africa may be attempting to coordinate against the threat of ISIS. There are reports of a recent rapprochement of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Murabitoun leadership. Al Murabitoun leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is reported to have survived the U.S. airstrike targeting him, initially broke from AQIM in 2012 over disagreements as to the direction of AQIM. Additionally, AQIM’s religious scholars have issued statements chastising ISIS.