Below are the takeaways from the week:
Iran may strike additional ISIS locations in Syria and possibly in Iraq after the IRGC launched a missile strike into eastern Syria on October 1 in response to an ISIS terror attack in southeastern Iran on September 22. ISIS leaders have called for more attacks in Iran. A senior regime official noted that the October 1 operation was only the “first phase” of Iran’s retaliation.
The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is attacking civilians in Mali to strengthen recruitment by stoking ethnic conflict, mirroring the strategy of sectarian violence that ISIS has implemented in Iraq. ISGS seeks to incite retaliation against vulnerable communities, which it then claims to defend to gain popular support. Recent French military operations have weakened the group and caused defections but have not improved the conditions to prevent ISGS’s reconstitution.
Russia is gaining leverage against the EU and NATO through economic deals that will increase Russia’s influence over the UN-backed Libyan government. The deals include wheat imports and railroad construction in Libya. Russia may leverage this relationship to affect migration flows to Europe or establish a military presence in western Libya, extending its military footprint into the central Mediterranean.