Situation Report Threat Update

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The Editors

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Threat Update Situation Report

Authors

The Editors

Latest Edition

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The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al Nusra, positioned itself to be part of the leadership of a unified armed Syrian opposition. Jabhat al Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al Joulani announced the end of Jabhat al Nusra’s operations and the formation Jabhat Fatah al Sham, which will not have ties to al Qaeda. This organizational restructuring is a strategic move intended to facilitate the unification of the armed Syrian opposition around a Jabhat al Nusra core. Al Qaeda sanctioned the decision in advance, emphasizing the need for Jabhat al Nusra to preserve unity above organizational relationships. Jabhat Fatah al Sham still holds al Qaeda’s objective of establishing an Islamic emirate in Syria. [See Katherine Zimmerman and Jennifer Cafarella’s “Avoiding al Qaeda’s Syria Trap: Jabhat al Nusra’s Rebranding.”]
  2. The start of U.S. military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Libya may prolong the ground conditions that permit ISIS and al Qaeda to operate in the country by undermining support for the UN-backed unity government. The U.S. conducted its first airstrikes targeting ISIS in Sirte, Libya, at the request of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Some of the Libyan factions that had backed the GNA and constituted the GNA’s military forces are now protesting its support for Western intervention. These factions may not sustain their military operations against ISIS, prioritizing instead their own objectives. ISIS and al Qaeda expanded operations in Libya during the civil war. [See CTP’s “Backgrounder: Fighting Forces in Libya” and “GNA-Allied Forces Seize Momentum against ISIS in Sirte” for more.]
  3. Violence is escalating along the Saudi-Yemeni border as the UN-led peace process to negotiate a political resolution to the civil war breaks down. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance launched a series of attacks in southern Saudi Arabia, prompting Saudi Arabia to warn that violation of Saudi territory is a “red line.” The al Houthi-Saleh faction may be seeking to induce Saudi Arabia to enter into direct negotiations with it outside of the UN-led negotiations, bypassing Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. Both the al Houthi-Saleh alliance and Hadi’s government are preparing for the collapse of UN-led peace talks. [Keep up to date on Yemen with CTP’s Situation Reports.]