- Clashes over oil may define the next stage of Libya’s civil war, giving the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) the opportunity to resurge after the loss of its stronghold in Sirte. A militia coalition that opposes the Libyan National Army (LNA) attempted to seize key oil terminals from the LNA on December 7. The Minister of Defense of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) participated in the anti-LNA coalition, indicating that GNA leadership is fracturing over military objectives. Civil conflict over control of Libya’s hydrocarbon resources will allow ISIS to solidify new safe havens in Libya’s interior. ISIS will likely resume an attack campaign against state and civilian targets in Libya and neighboring states. [See CTP’s laydown of forces in Libya for background.]
- ISIS may be resuming an explosive attack campaign intended to deter Yemenis from joining local security forces. ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan claimed responsibility for a suicide vest attack on security forces at Sawlaban military base near Aden city on December 10. The attack, which targeted soldiers gathered to collect their salaries, killed 50 troops and wounded 70 others. ISIS last conducted a high-casualty explosive attack in Aden in August 2016. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) supports ISIS’s efforts to degrade security forces in Aden. [Read the latest in-depth Yemen Crisis Situation Report.]
- Boko Haram’s competing factions are pursuing independent strategies that pose serious threats to the Nigerian state. The faction led by Abu Bakr Shekau is conducting a campaign of mass-casualty explosive attacks on civilian targets. The group used two teams of suicide bombers, all school-aged girls, to attack markets in Madagali town, Adamawa State, Nigeria on December 9 and in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria on December 11. These attacks counter the Nigerian government’s claim that Boko Haram is close to defeat. The Boko Haram faction led by Abu Musab al Barnawi, the recognized leader of ISIS’s affiliate in West Africa, may be conducting a campaign to degrade Nigeria’s military leadership. Militants conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a military convoy on December 13 that killed the fourth Nigerian lieutenant colonel in two months.