Situation Report Threat Update


The Editors


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Threat Update Situation Report


The Editors

Latest Edition

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The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.

Key Takeaways:

  1. A ceasefire between the Saudi-led coalition and the al Houthi-Saleh alliance may have limited effects. It will help to de-escalate the national conflict in Yemen, but will not resolve local fights or the conflict between the al Houthi-Saleh faction and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s alliance. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on November 15 that the coalition and an al Houthi-Saleh delegation agreed to a cessation of hostilities to begin on November 17. The agreement also includes a framework for negotiations. Previous ceasefires have not translated to progress in negotiations. Hadi’s administration did not participate in the talks and has voiced opposition to the agreement. The cessation of hostilities will likely include the coalition’s air campaign and al Houthi-Saleh attacks on southern Saudi Arabia. Local conflicts, including the battle for Taiz city, will likely continue despite the elite-level agreement. Southern Yemenis lack representation in the peace process and will likely resist it. [Keep up to date on Yemen with the daily Gulf of Aden Security Review and in-depth Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.]
  2. A brewing fight for control of oil ports in eastern Libya may reignite Libya’s civil war. A coalition of eastern Libyan leaders that opposes Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the dominant military force in eastern Libya, is reportedly rallying forces for an offensive to recapture oil ports controlled by Haftar’s forces. The anti-Haftar forces include Mehdi al Barghathi, the Minister of the Defense in the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). An offensive lead by Barghathi, who is widely seen as the GNA’s chosen alternative to Haftar in eastern Libya, risks opening a new front in Libya’s dormant civil war. A battle for eastern Libya’s oil would provide an opportunity for the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda associate Ansar al Sharia, which have suffered recent losses in Sirte and Benghazi, to reconstitute and possibly regain control of terrain. [See Emily Estelle’s “Fighting Forces in Libya” map.]
  3. The Sahel region and southwestern Libya will be a critical front in the fight against Salafi-jihadi groups in 2017. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is resurgent in the Sahel region of West Africa, and there are early indicators that ISIS may develop ties with a militant group in the region. AQIM maintains a safe haven in southwestern Libya, where airstrikes targeted a senior AQIM leader on November 15. ISIS may also be making inroads into southwestern Libya. Salafi-jihadi groups use these regions to support attacks in neighboring states, as well as train recruits and exploit lucrative smuggling and trafficking routes. [Read CTP’s assessments of a new ISIS branch in the Sahel and al Qaeda’s rise in the region.]