[Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk(*) for the reader's awareness.]
Below are the takeaways from the week:
Iranian proxies may escalate militarily against American forces in Iraq as regional U.S.-Iran tensions heighten. The U.S. warned American citizens of heightened risks after IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani *met with Iranian proxy leaders in Baghdad. Iraqi officials warned Iranian proxies may attack U.S. forces under the guise of ISIS. The U.S. already redeployed strategic military assets to the Persian Gulf, responding to intelligence of potential Iranian threats.
For more context, check our Iran File from April 22.
HORN OF AFRICA
Al Shabaab assassinated a Turkish engineer in Mogadishu on May 12 as part of a campaign targeting Turkish interests in Somalia. The Turkish government is one of the Somali Federal Government’s strongest backers and has invested in the education, health, transportation, agricultural, and security sectors in Somalia. This latest attack occurred on the one-year anniversary of an attack on a Turkish military base in Mogadishu.
The al Houthi movement’s withdrawal of forces from three Red Sea ports in accordance with the UN-brokered seeks to buy time and goodwill as the al Houthi movement advances on other fronts. Disagreements over security force composition in the ports will continue to stall the agreement’s implementation. The al Houthi movement has been reinforcing fronts in south-central Yemen after a recent advance, which the Hadi government is countering.
Salafi-jihadi militants in Burkina Faso conducted several attacks targeting Christians, likely to incite retaliatory violence. Militants have similarly stoked and exploited ethnic conflict in Mali and Burkina Faso. Two attacks targeted Catholics in north-central Burkina Faso on May 12 and 13, weeks after an attack on a Protestant church in the country’s north. Boko Haram in Nigeria similarly targeted Christians to solidify its support base.