[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:
Hardliner-led impeachment proceedings against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif may backfire and could lead to anti-regime protests. Hardliner parliamentarians moved to *question Zarif over comments he made about money laundering in Iran. The questioning is a formal step toward impeachment. Zarif is unlikely to release the names of regime officials involved in money laundering in Iran. Such a list would certainly implicate IRGC- and cleric-affiliated institutions. Accusations of corruption and embezzlement have fueled economic protests, and any release of names by the popular foreign minister could fuel renewed demonstrations.
The death of a senior leader will temporarily disrupt an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliate in central Mali. French forces killed Amadou Koufa, a deputy leader of Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen, on November 23. Koufa helped expand AQIM’s reach into central Mali and northern Burkina Faso by appealing to local ethnic grievances and mentoring other militant leaders. Salafi-jihadi groups will continue to expand in central Mali despite Koufa’s death as long as government repression and local conflict continue.
Disagreements over control of al Hudaydah port will prevent UN consultations in Sweden in December from advancing the peace process. Al Houthi officials agreed to transfer al Hudaydah port to UN administration on November 22. The Saudi-led coalition has demanded that al Houthi forces withdraw completely from the city, however. The al Houthis have given no indication that they are likely to agree to such a demand. The same impasse scuttled talks over the port in June.
HORN OF AFRICA
Political disputes will distract U.S. partner forces in Somalia, limiting the effect of an increase in U.S. and partner operations against al Shabaab’s havens in north-central Somalia. Factions in Galmudug state will continue competing for authority, limiting cooperation against al Shabaab. Al Shabaab will increase operations in north-central Somalia in response to greater pressure from U.S. and Galmudug forces. It recently conducted its first *complex attack in Galmudug since 2016.
ISIS in Libya is preparing to shift from a reconstitution phase to renewed offensive operations. ISIS has conducted intermittent terrorist attacks from its haven in central Libya since retreating from the coastal city of Sirte in late 2016. ISIS militants are now challenging security forces and intimidating local populations in central and southeastern Libya to establish *positions on the edges of the Libyan National Army’s control zone. ISIS will use its expanded footprint to support attacks in eastern Libya, most likely targeting oil infrastructure but potentially targeting cities like Benghazi and Ajdabiya.
The Haqqani Network may be enabling ISIS attacks in new areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. ISIS Wilayat Khorasan claims to have conducted *suicide attacks for the first time in Afghanistan’s Khost province and the former tribal areas of Pakistan on November 23. Both regions are historic Haqqani Network strongholds. Haqqani Network commander Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy head of the Afghan Taliban. Haqqani support for ISIS, if confirmed, should cause policy-makers to rethink the wisdom of certain kinds of peace deals with the Taliban.