- The Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and its military are preparing for an offensive to seize Sana’a from the al Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The offensive, backed by Saudi Arabia, would incite former President Saleh’s base in northwest Yemen to fight against Saudi-backed forces, mobilizing a large segment of the population that has not yet joined the civil war. This mobilization would prolong the civil war and draw attention and resources away from the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), creating conditions that AQAP could exploit for growth. [Keep up to date on Yemen with CTP’s Situation Reports.]
- Al Qaeda is asserting its position as the vanguard for the global Salafi-jihadi movement over the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri criticized ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi for failing to submit to authority figures when he was a part of the al Qaeda network. Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s son, threatened revenge against the U.S. for the death of his father. This threat echoes a statement released by al Qaeda’s al Sahab media wing on June 30 in which Zawahiri threatened consequences for the U.S. should it execute Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. [See “Competing Jihad: The Islamic State and al Qaeda” for further reading on the al Qaeda and ISIS relationship.]
- African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop-contributing countries announced the intent to transition security responsibility to Somali forces in 2018 and to withdraw completely from Somalia by 2020. The UN reauthorized the AMISOM coalition at the current maximum force level of 22,126 troops until May 31, 2017. The Somali National Army (SNA) will not be capable of providing adequate security by 2018 and 2020. Current AMISOM troop levels have failed to sufficiently reduce the threat posed by al Shabaab, and a premature drawdown will give the group the opportunity to resurge.