The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.
- The expected increase in U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen prompted Iran to bolster support for the al Houthi movement. Reuters reported that Iran surged arms shipments to Yemen in recent months and may have sent advisors. An aggressive American policy against the Iranian-backed al Houthis risks driving the group further into Iran’s orbit. [Read CTP’s policy recommendations for countering Iranian influence in Yemen.]
- The Libyan National Army’s declared offensive to seize strategic locations in southwestern Libya will draw opposing forces back into the ongoing contest for Libya’s resources. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda both retain Libyan safe havens. Spiraling conflict would give both al Qaeda and ISIS the opportunity to co-opt factions within the civil war and could erase the recent progress made in degrading ISIS’s strength in Libya. [Read “Ignoring History: America’s Losing Strategy in Libya.”]
- Al Shabaab’s provision of humanitarian assistance to famine-stricken populations extends its shadow governance and builds popular support. The group distributed food aid to more than 200 families in Galgudud region, central Somalia on March 19. Al Shabaab may strengthen in regions where the Somali Federal Government is unable to facilitate the delivery of food aid. [Read “US Counterterrorism Objectives in Somalia: Is Mission Failure Likely?”]