The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on Iran and the al Qaeda network.
- Iranian officials said an Iranian cargo ship, which left from Bandar Abbas, Iran, for al Hudaydah, Yemen, and is escorted by the Artesh Navy’s 34th Fleet, will refuse inspections by countries involved in the conflict in Yemen. Iran appears to be testing U.S. redlines in the Gulf of Aden and will probably continue to challenge the U.S. Navy there. Recent incidents of involving the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington, Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris, and a convoy of seven cargo ships reportedly carrying weapons for the al Houthis demonstrate Iran’s willingness to test the line.
- A five-day ceasefire between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s al Houthi movement allowed humanitarian aid to enter Yemen. Yemeni stakeholders did not make progress in political negotiations during the pause in hostilities, and both sides may have used the time to regroup. Clashes between the al Houthi movement and local tribal militias continued in central and southern Yemen during the ceasefire as well.
- The al Qaeda-linked al Murabitoun group, which operates in the Sahel, may be fracturing. Al Murabitoun was formed in August 2013 by a merger between the AQIM splinters MUJAO and al Mulathamun. A MUJAO leader pledged support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in the name of al Murabitoun, which was then denied by an al Mulathamun leader. ISIS has had a growing presence in North Africa among smaller militant Islamist groups and may be extending its reach south into the Sahel.