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2018 04-10 ctp update and assessment


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CTP's Threat Update series is a weekly update and assessment of Iran and the al Qaeda network and its affiliates in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and the Maghreb and Sahel.

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2018 04-10 ctp update and assessment

  1. 1. 1 Threat Update: April 10, 2018 Israeli forces killed at least four Iranians during an airstrike against pro- Syrian regime forces in southwestern Syria on April 8. The airstrike follows a Syrian regime chemical weapons attack on an opposition stronghold near Damascus. Iran will likely push back militarily against Israel, but will prioritize assisting Russia and other pro-Syrian regime forces in deterring and responding to any U.S. airstrikes in Syria in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack. Iran Tensions between the executive and legislative branches are destabilizing the Somali Federal Government. Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari resigned on April 9 after a no-confidence motion against him sparked a confrontation between security forces loyal to Jawari and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on April 4. The internal power struggle could empower al Shabaab, which recently increased operations in the capital. Somalia Maghreb Morocco escalated its threat to conduct a military intervention in Western Sahara, risking a regional conflict that may create a safe haven for Salafi-jihadi groups in combat zones. Morocco seeks to control larger areas of the contested territory as the vote on the extension of the UN peacekeeping mission’s mandate approaches. Morocco also seeks direct negotiations with Algeria, which backs the Sahrawi Polisario Front.
  2. 2. 2 Threat Update: April 10, 2018 Yemen The al Houthi movement increased attacks against Saudi economic interests possibly to pressure the Saudi-led coalition to participate in negotiations. Al Houthi forces fired three ballistic missiles at Saudi ARAMCO facilities and attacked a Saudi oil tanker with a surface-to-ship missile since March 22. Al Houthi forces last targeted Saudi ARAMCO facilities in April 2017. A hardline coalition response may undermine attempts by the UN Special Envoy to revitalize peace talks. Sahel Counterterrorism operations in the Malian-Nigerien border region are causing popular grievances that Salafi-jihadi groups will exploit for recruitment. Pro-Malian government Tuareg militias fighting ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) have committed human rights abuses against Fulani populations. The Tuareg militias have claimed to kill or capture more than double ISGS’s estimated force strength since February, signaling the broad targeting of Fulani communities. The largest wave of Pashtun protests in years is pressuring the Pakistani government and military for civil rights reforms. Pakistani officials have not yet enacted reforms to meet core Pashtun demands since the protests began in January 2018. Salafi-jihadi groups that operate in Pashtun-majority areas in Pakistan will attempt to leverage widespread dissatisfaction to recruit Pashtuns. Pakistan
  3. 3. Horn of Africa 3Peter Cialone Executive-legislative crisis weakens the Somali Federal Government 09 APR: Speaker Jawari resigned after security forces loyal to him engaged in a standoff with forces loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo at parliament. 12 MAR: The Somali Parliament banned an Emirati port operator in an attempt to block a deal between the UAE, Ethiopia, and semi-autonomous Somaliland. The measure increased Parliament’s power by requiring legislative approval of all foreign investment contracts. 16 MAR: Somali security forces deployed to the Lower House in response to a no-confidence vote against Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari. Speaker Jawari accused Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire of deploying the forces. 2 3 1
  4. 4. Maghreb 4 Morocco threatens armed intervention in Western Sahara 1. 01 APR: Morocco denounced alleged military movements by the Polisario Front in Bir Lehlou, Tifariti, and Al Mahbes. 2. 03 APR: The UN called for the Polisario Front and Morocco to avoid actions that may threaten the ceasefire in Guerguerat. 3. 08 APR: Morocco’s chief of army staff ordered reinforcements to move toward the southeast and join the bases in Zag. 4. 09 APR: Moroccan authorities organized a demonstration in Laayoune in support of the Kingdom’s territorial integrity. Guerguerat Al Mahbes Laayoune Tifariti Bir Lehlou Zag 4 1 2 3 Algeria
  5. 5. Yemen 5 Key Single Missile Attack Multiple Missile Attack Announcement 09 APR: The President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad announced that al Houthi forces will launch daily ballistic missile attacks against Saudi Arabia. Tomás Padgett Perez Al Houthi movement escalates attacks against Saudi economic interests 04 APR: Al Houthi forces targeted Saudi ARAMCO facilities with a ballistic missile for the third time in a two-week period. 03 APR: Al Houthi forces attacked a Saudi oil tanker with a surface-to-ship missile off the coast of al Hudaydah port. 1 2 3 present Al Houthi attacks on Saudi oil interests. Target Najran City Jizan City Al Hudaydah Port
  6. 6. Sahel 6Bryan Gilday Tuareg militias attack ISGS positions along the Nigerien border Bamako Bandiagara 30 MAR-01 APR: The Fulani people accused the GATIA-MSA coalition of executing innocent Fulanis and stealing property in Gao region, Mali and Tillaberi region, Niger. 01 APR: GATIA-MSA forces killed 30 ISGS militants in the deadliest clash in the two-month campaign near Akabar, Mali. 09 APR: ISGS militants ambushed GATIA-MSA forces near Akabar, Mali, indicating that the group retains the ability to conduct offensive operations. 1 2 2 3 3 present Akabar, Mali Tillaberi region, Niger Gao region, Mali
  7. 7. Pakistan 7Matthew Cassidy Pakistani Pashtun protests pressure government and military 13 JAN: Karachi police claimed to kill four ISIS-affiliated militants attempting to attack the Karachi airport, but evidence indicates the four men were civilians. 1 18 JAN: Pashtun activists began protests calling for an end to political repression and harassment by security forces, among other grievances. 08 APR: Pashtun leaders resumed mass demonstrations in response to the government’s failure to implement reforms. 2 3
  8. 8. Acronym List AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia AQAP: al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQIM: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIS: al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent BDB: Benghazi Defense Brigades BRSC: Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council CJA: Congress for Justice in Azawad CMA: Coordination for the Movement of the Azawad GATIA: Imghad Tuareg and Allies Self-Defense Group ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham JNIM: Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen GNA: Libyan Government of National Accord LNA: Libyan National Army MAA: Arab Movement of Azawad MINUSMA: United National Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali MNLA: National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad MSCD: Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna MUJAO: Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa SNA: Somalia National Army TTP: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan 8
  9. 9. For more information about AEI’s Critical Threats Project, visit Contact us at or (202) 888-6575. Frederick W. Kagan Director Critical Threats Project Team Katherine Zimmerman Research Manager Caroline Goodson Program Manager 9 al Qaeda Analysts Emily Estelle Maher Farrukh Iran Analysts Marie Donovan Mike Saidi Digital Content Associate Katie Donnelly