The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.
- The rupture between Qatar and several Arab states severs a diplomatic channel in the Yemen conflict. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5. The Riyadh-based Yemeni government also cut ties with Qatar, as did an Egyptian- and Emirati-backed Libyan administration. Qatar’s ouster from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen removes an interlocutor between the coalition and the al Houthi-Saleh bloc. An al Houthi-Saleh political body subsequently indicated that it will no longer engage the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, whom it views as biased toward Saudi Arabia. [Read a warning on state fragmentation in Yemen and policy recommendations for U.S. re-engagement.]
- The Libyan National Army (LNA), a militia coalition based in eastern Libya, notched a victory with its takeover of several strategic sites in central Libya. Egyptian and likely Emirati air support proved decisive for the LNA, which is led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The LNA’s advance toward western Libya does not herald a sustainable military or political solution to the Libya conflict, however. Haftar and his regional backers seek to exclude key powerbrokers, including political Islamists, who are critical to a stable political resolution in Libya. [Read “Ignoring History: America’s Losing Strategy in Libya.”]
- Al Shabaab is waging a campaign against Kenyan police and military targets in Somalia and eastern Kenya in an attempt to influence general elections in August. Al Shabaab has killed more than 30 Kenyan troops and security personnel in the past three weeks. It seeks to drive public support for the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia. The group’s recent operations include an attack on a Kenyan military base at Kolbio, where it previously conducted a high-casualty attack on Kenyan forces in January 2017. [Read an assessment of U.S. counterterrorism policy in Somalia.]