The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.
- A U.S. ground raid targeting an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) compound signals a sustained shift away from the use of drone strikes alone to counter AQAP. U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) conducted an intelligence-gathering raid in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen. This operation is the first acknowledged U.S. ground raid in Yemen since a similar operation in January 2017 resulted in the death of one U.S. Navy SEAL and several Yemeni civilians. [Read “A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen.”]
- The breakdown of a ceasefire in southwestern Libya threatens recent political progress and sets the stage for the civil war to escalate. A militia coalition that included groups associated with al Qaeda overran the Brak al Shati airbase on May 18, executing dozens of Libyan National Army (LNA) personnel. The LNA retaliated with airstrikes and may resume ground operations in the southwest. Continued conflict in Libya empowers al Qaeda and associated groups that have positioned themselves as the defenders of vulnerable populations in the civil war. [Read “Fighting Forces in Libya: May 2017.”]
- Civil unrest is spreading in Tunisia. Protests escalated in the country’s marginalized southern regions after President Beji Caid Essebsi deployed troops to protect industrial sites from demonstrators. Clashes between police and protesters killed at least one civilian. Continued violence by security forces risks generating broad backlash against the state. [From the archives: “Warning Update: Escalating Protests Threaten Instability in Tunisia.”]