Update and Assessment: October 5, 2016
By The Editors
October 5, 2016
- The al Houthi-Saleh alliance may conduct additional attacks against vessels in Yemeni territorial waters, potentially disrupting shipping routes and routine maritime traffic in the Bab al Mandab Strait. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance fired a missile at an Emirati vessel off the coast of Mokha port city in western Yemen on October 1. A video shows the destruction of the vessel. The UAE foreign ministry described the attack as an “act of terror.” Separately, al Houthi-Saleh forces are probably using American citizen Peter Willems as a human shield against Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Sana’a. Al Houthi-Saleh forces detained Willems on September 20 after an airstrike hit an intelligence headquarters in the capital. [Keep up to date on Yemen with CTP’s Situation Reports. For more on the al Houthi movement, see Katherine Zimmerman’s “Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen’s al Houthis.”]
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is reconstituting its combat capabilities in central Libya despite the imminent loss of its stronghold in Sirte to U.S.-backed Libyan forces. ISIS militants who fled Sirte as the U.S.-backed offensive began have conducted multiple attacks behind the Sirte frontline since mid-September, including an ambush that caused dozens of casualties on October 2. The U.S. air campaign is entering its third month. [See Frederick W. Kagan and Emily Estelle’s “ISIS Loses Headquarters in Sirte, Libya.”]
- Political and military tensions escalated between the Indian and Pakistani governments in the contested Kashmir region. Tensions rose when India blamed a Pakistan-based militant group for attacks on Indian security forces. The Indian and Pakistani militaries have since exchanged fire across the Line of Control. India is preparing fortifications for a possible military escalation.