Update and Assessment: September 16, 2015

September 16, 2015

Key Takeaways:

  1. Ayman al Zawahiri issued a critique of the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Zawahiri, who has remained largely silent on ISIS, dismissed the Caliphate as illegitimate and called for all Muslims to defend themselves against the West. Zawahiri still seeks to unify the global jihad and sees ISIS as a dividing force.
  2. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Guardian Council’s supervisory role in elections as its “legal” and “rational right,” pushing back on President Hassan Rouhani’s August 19 critique of the Guardian Council. Khamenei’s public correction of Rouhani may be aimed at ensuring the latter’s influence and politico-economic reforms do not become unmanageable.
  3. ISIS consolidated control in Sirte, Libya, and the surrounding areas. ISIS is using methods similar to those seen in Syria and Iraq.