Update and Assessment: May 4, 2016
By The Editors
May 4, 2016
- The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) may be preparing to attack Tunisian targets in conjunction with Ramadan, an Islamic holy month, and the centennial anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Tunisian security forces interdicted a suspected pro-ISIS attack in La Marsa, the site at which Tunisian officials established a French protectorate in 1882. ISIS traditionally surges before or during Ramadan, and the holiday’s juxtaposition with the Sykes-Picot anniversary will probably inspire attacks on symbols of Western colonialism in the near term.
- An offensive against ISIS’s stronghold in Sirte remains likely, though deep divisions within Libya’s armed forces may limit its effectiveness. Clashes continue between Libyan National Army (LNA) and Misratan forces, forces on opposite sides of Libya’s civil war. ISIS continues to harden Sirte’s defenses and lay the groundwork for a controlled withdrawal from the city, should holding Sirte become untenable. Sirte is not the sole key to defeating ISIS in Libya, however, and ISIS will likely continue to destabilize the region from a base in southwestern Libya. [See CTP’s backgrounder on forces in Libya and a forecast of ISIS’s courses of actions in Libya.]
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may be preparing to withdraw from Zinjibar, Abyan, following reports of local mediation. AQAP just withdrew its forces from al Mukalla, Hadramawt before a Yemeni offensive with Emirati support. The loss of these cities is a temporary setback for AQAP, however. The group derives its strength from popular support, not territorial control, and it has resurged from similar losses in 2012. [See a recent post on AQAP’s loss of al Mukalla and sign up to receive CTP’s Yemen Crisis Situation Reports by email.]