Update and Assessment: March 30, 2016
By The Editors
March 30, 2016
- Jamatul Ahrar, a splinter group of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, conducted a suicide bombing targeting Pakistani Christians at a park in Lahore, Pakistan, on Easter Sunday. The attack killed at least 72 people and wounded more than 300 others. Jamatul Ahrar has expressed leanings in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), but has not formally affiliated with the group. It has targeted Christians before and will likely continue to attack non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan.
- The imposition of the UN-backed Libyan unity government, the Government of National Accord (GNA) is widening the divisions between Libya’s factions and hindering both local and international counter-ISIS efforts. Militias aligned with Libya’s self-declared Islamist government in Tripoli prevented the GNA from moving to the capital from its exile in Tunis. Anti-GNA militias suspended flights at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport and fired anti-aircraft munitions in the area as clashes between anti- and pro-GNA groups raged in the city. Armed groups from nearby Misrata pledged support to the GNA, further fracturing the tenuous Tripolitan-Misratan alliance that is instrumental for blocking ISIS’s westward expansion from Sirte. The unity government still lacks support from the internationally recognized parliament and powerful military factions in eastern Libya. [See CTP’s recent backgrounder on forces in Libya and on ISIS’s campaign in Libya.]
- The U.S. and the Saudi-led coalition intensified their air campaigns against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Hadramawt, Lahij, and Abyan in Yemen. U.S. airstrikes on March 22 targeted a training camp. Breaking reports indicate AQAP leader Qasim al Raymi, previously the group’s military commander, may have been killed in the airstrike. The air campaigns may limit AQAP’s ability to consolidate new gains, but they are unlikely to expel AQAP from its strongholds. AQAP is exploiting the civil war in Yemen to expand. Planned UN-sponsored talks between the al Houthi-Saleh government and Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government may be more productive than a previous round of talks based on recent direct talks between al Houthi representatives and Saudi officials. These national-level talks are unlikely to stabilize Yemen, however. [Sign up to receive CTP’s Yemen Crisis Situation Reports by email.]