Update and Assessment: May 18, 2016
By The Editors
May 18, 2016
- The operational tempo of U.S.-backed Somali special operations forces (SOF) raids against al Shabaab spiked as the Somali SOF conducted a series of raids in central Somalia. The American military’s role in the recent raids has been limited to an advise-and-assist capacity, as well as possibly providing air assault capabilities. The raids have targeted al Shabaab military positions and a high-level leadership meeting. The U.S. has been training Somali SOF forces to build a counterterrorism capability within the Somali security forces. These elite units have countered al Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu and are increasingly deploying into central Somalia for raids targeting al Shabaab leadership and key ground positions.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are attempting to degrade the Yemeni security forces and government in southeastern Yemen. ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt launched an explosive attack campaign in al Mukalla, Hadramawt that resembles the ongoing ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan campaign in Aden city. ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt conducted at least two suicide attacks on military and security targets in al Mukalla between May 12 and May 15, with reports that security forces found and cleared additional explosives-laden vehicles. AQAP preserved its military strength by withdrawing from populated centers, but is resuming its campaign of assassinations, targeting high-ranking military commanders and government officials.
- The U.S. and international partners agreed to consider arming and training forces for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to fight ISIS. Libyan armed factions, including the GNA, will continue to prioritize securing their own objectives over the counter-ISIS fight. The GNA is also far from uniting Libya’s divided armed factions, and competition for international support will likely exacerbate tensions between armed groups. The rush to secure counterterrorism partners in Libya also gives anti-Western actors, including Russia, the opportunity to back factions that could ultimately undermine the GNA and subvert American and European interests in Libya. [See CTP’s backgrounder on forces in Libya and a forecast of ISIS’s courses of actions in Libya.]