[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:
The Iranian regime is attempting secure a permanent Mediterranean presence and expand its ability to transfer weapons and fighters regionally. The Syrian government will reportedly cede management of Latakia commercial port to Iran. The news follows an Iran-Iraq *rail line agreement for the establishment of a land bridge linking Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is *expected to visit Syria soon and will likely discuss Iran’s management of Latakia.
Political elites’ failure to deescalate protests in Algeria increases the likelihood that the military will declare a state of emergency to end the political crisis. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika defied pressure to resign. He is losing support, however, as ruling party politicians decamp and protests threaten the energy sector. Protest leaders are mobilizing against the army’s involvement in politics, indicating that an army intervention could escalate rather than suppress dissent.
The al Houthi movement is posturing rhetorically and militarily to deter the Saudi-led coalition from resuming offensive operations in al Hudaydah governorate. The al Houthi spokesperson threatened strikes on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi if the Hudaydah ceasefire collapses. An al Houthi missile struck a training camp of coalition-backed Yemeni forces in southern al Hudaydah on March 14, possibly to deter preparations for a perceived offensive.
Read our recommended way forward in Yemen.
HORN OF AFRICA
Al Shabaab is recapturing southern Somali towns due to a salary dispute and the repositioning of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. Al Shabaab seized a town near Somalia’s capital after troops withdrew, citing unpaid salaries. Militants also recaptured a second town after Kenyan AMISOM troops withdrew to defensive positions. Al Shabaab will retain its Jubba River Valley stronghold and may escalate attacks on Mogadishu from nearby support zones.
Hizbul Ahrar (HuA), a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group, is exploiting the India-Pakistan crisis to degrade Pakistani security forces. HuA increased its rate of explosive and hit-and-run attacks against Pakistani security forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and in major cities, including Karachi, since mid-February. HuA leadership may have assessed an opportunity to increase operations due to Pakistani forces' focus on India and a temporary crackdown on Kashmiri militant groups.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) is making a play for influence in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, following a show of force in southwestern Libya. LNA commander Khalifa Haftar seeks national power through high-level talks and relationship-building with militias in the Tripoli region. The LNA is an unstable coalition, however, and it has leveraged superficial agreements to appear stronger than it is. The LNA’s engagement could destabilize the already volatile Tripoli region.