Critical Threats Today
A regular summary of al Qaeda operations in Yemen and Africa as well as major events in Iran.
These are the major events from March 15 for Iran and for al Qaeda operations in Yemen and Africa. Please see the Iran News Roundup, the Gulf of Aden Security Review, and the weekly Threat Update for more details.
Pro-Hadi government forces are advancing into northern Yemen from Saudi Arabia in an effort to confront cross-border attacks by the al Houthi-Saleh movement into Saudi Arabia.
Hadi government forces seized a mountain range overlooking the village of al Kitaf, northern al Buqa’a district, Sa’ada governorate. Northern Sa’ada governorate serves as a base of operations for al Houthi-Saleh forces carrying out cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia. Sa’ada governorate’s population is hostile to the Hadi government and a historical base of support for the al Houthi movement. Sa’ada was the site of a series of wars between the Saleh government and al Houthi followers from 2004 to 2009. The Hadi government and its allies in the Saudi-led coalition seek to challenge al Houthi-Saleh control in this region to cut down on cross-border raids and reduce pressure on the Saudi Civil Defense. (Recommended reading: How the U.S. Should Re-Engage in Yemen)
Citations & Links
The United Kingdom committed additional assistance to support Somalia’s new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Farmajo in Mogadishu on March 15. Johnson announced that the UK will provide additional humanitarian aid to Farmajo’s administration on top of the $125 million that U.K. pledged after Farmajo’s inauguration on February 22. President Farmajo came into office riding a wave of optimism in Somalia and abroad. The UK will continue to provide more robust aid to key partners in Africa as part of Secretary Johnson’s post-Brexit “forward-looking” foreign policy.
Citations & Links
Russia is seizing the opportunity of growing conflict in Libya to increase its military presence in the country.
Russia reportedly promised to provide military aid to the Libyan National Army (LNA), setting the conditions for Russia to begin using military bases in eastern Libya. Russia’s interests will likely benefit from escalating clashes between rival militias in Tripoli, which will draw the attention of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) away from the LNA’s takeover from the oil crescent. The LNA-aligned Libyan House of Representatives withdrew its support for the GNA-aligned National Oil Corporation (NOC), signaling an effort to concentrate control of oil resources in eastern Libya. This development may harm an agreement recently signed between the GNA-aligned NOC and Russian oil company Rosneft, but Russia’s growing influence over the LNA will likely allow it to secure its economic interests in eastern Libya regardless. (Recommended reading: Ignoring History: America's Losing Strategy in Libya)