Situation Report Threat Update

authors

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. The Libyan battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Sirte, a port city in the middle of the Libyan coastline, may give way to a larger civil conflict as rival militias grapple for control of Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) announced the defeat of ISIS in Sirte, its former stronghold, on December 5. ISIS militants still operate in one neighborhood in central Sirte, as well as in the city’s southern suburbs. ISIS retains its ability to conduct mass-casualty attacks targeting security forces and civilian returnees in Sirte. Libyan forces will likely be unable to counter ISIS’s changing tactics as militias focus on a tense Tripoli, where clashes between rival militias erupted over control of strategic sites on December 1. Salafi-jihadi groups with ties to al Qaeda may seek to establish a stronghold amidst Tripoli’s chaos to replace losses sustained in eastern Libya. [See CTP’s laydown of forces in Libya for background.]
  2. Yemen’s internationally recognized government, led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, continues to pursue offensive operations against the al Houthi-Saleh alliance despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent comment that he had made headway with Hadi in jumpstarting peace talks. Hadi government and allied forces conducted shaping operations in northern Yemen, where they seized a second major border crossing in Sa’ada governorate. Hadi government reinforcements mobilized to Ma’rib governorate to support shaping operations. The Saudi-led coalition continues to support the Hadi government and seeks to set conditions that would compel the al Houthis and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to concede influence in the consensus government. The al Houthi-Saleh faction is not close to military defeat. [Read the latest in-depth Yemen Crisis Situation Report and an assessment of Yemen’s frontlines.]
  3. Large-scale labor strikes in response to austerity measures risk instability in Tunisia. Thousands of lawyers rallied to protest new taxes on December 6. Teachers in Tunisia’s largest labor union plan to enact a schedule of strikes to protest austerity measures and reforms beginning on December 8. Regional states and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to support Tunisia in late November in an effort to stabilize Tunisia’s economy and prevent unrest. An agreement between a union leader and the Tunisian government may stave off protests in the near term, but the underlying grievances will remain. An escalation in protest activity would damage confidence in the fledgling unity government and provide an opportunity for Salafi-jihadi groups already based in Tunisia to conduct attacks. [Read an assessment of the dangers of instability in Tunisia from September 2016.]