[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:
Iran signaled its preparedness to respond to any Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities. Iran’s armed forces conducted a *major air defense military exercise after the U.S. reimposed sanctions on November 5 that included both the Artesh and IRGC. Iran threatened to resume uranium enrichment on May 8 following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Israel perceives Iran’s nuclear program as an immediate security threat and may take preemptive action if Iran resumes nuclear activities.
Emirati-backed Yemeni forces are surrounding al Hudaydah city to increase military pressure on the al Houthi movement before a U.S.-imposed deadline for peace talks in Sweden by the end of November. Both U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis called for talks in recent weeks. Emirati-backed forces are unlikely to attempt to seize the port or city, which al Houthi forces have reinforced, before the talks.
An upcoming international conference on Libya, hosted by Italy on November 12-13, will not advance political reconciliation efforts. Italy and the UN have scrambled to secure the attendance of key powerbrokers and establish objectives for the conference, which joins several competing and de-synchronized initiatives. Domestic political deadlock and infighting between foreign powers will continue after the conference, preserving the instability that allows Salafi-jihadi groups to operate in Libya.
Fundamentalist Islamist protesters crippled Pakistan’s largest cities for three days to compel the Pakistani government to block a Christian recently acquitted of blasphemy charges from leaving the country. The protesters, led by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party, also called for the overthrow of the military and government. Protests will likely resume and may turn violent because Pakistan’s judiciary is unlikely to reverse its decision.
Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces resumed offensive operations in Lower Jubba region for the first time since al Shabaab checked their advances in summer 2018, but progress will be slow. SNA-AMISOM forces cleared areas outside al Shabaab-controlled Jamame town, including a village where al Shabaab attacked a joint U.S. and SNA-AMISOM outpost in June 2018. SNA-AMISOM forces are unlikely to seize Jamame in the near term.