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2018 07-24 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 07-24 CTP Update and Assessment

  1. 1. 1 Threat Update: July 24, 2018 Yemen Russia may be engaging opportunistically in Yemen to undercut U.S.-backed UN negotiations. Russia’s ambassador to Yemen met with senior Hadi government officials after the UN envoy to Yemen discussed his roadmap for negotiations with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The al Houthi movement urged Russia to facilitate a political resolution possibly as an alternative to UN-led negotiations. Iran Tehran signaled its readiness to respond militarily against Iraq- and Pakistan-based insurgent groups that cross the border after conducting attacks on Iranian soil. An Iranian Interior Ministry official stated if neighboring countries cannot curtail terrorist activities within their own borders then Iran will take cross-border action against terrorist bases. The threat follows a Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK)-organized attack on July 21 that killed 11 Iranians in northwestern Iran.
  2. 2. 2 Threat Update: July 24, 2018 Sustained protests may weaken the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which is the U.S. counterterrorism partner in Libya, as well as empower militias controlling Tripoli. Tripoli residents protested power outages in GNA-controlled neighborhoods. Continued demonstrations and the GNA’s lack of control over oil resources will likely destabilize UN reconstruction efforts and undermine the GNA’s legitimacy. Libya Sahel Violence and political turmoil surrounding Mali’s presidential elections may undermine the central government’s legitimacy. The opposition party accused the government of election fraud. Salafi-jihadi violence is preventing voting in some regions, potentially resulting in a disputed election. Salafi-jihadi groups may expand their popular support in the country by offering an alternate form of governance.
  3. 3. 3 Key Insurgent attacks Mike Saidi and Nicholas Carl Anti-regime insurgents increase attacks along Iranian borders (May 1 – July 24)Iran 23 MAY: Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) militants attacked outpost near Iraqi Kurdistan border, killing a member of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF). 1 11 JUN: Fifteen unidentified militants clashed with LEF border guards and killed one. 21 JUL: PJAK militants killed 11 IRGC and Basij fighters in an attack on an IRGC outpost near the Iraqi Kurdistan border. 2 3
  4. 4. Yemen 4 Present 20 JUL: Russian Ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Dedushkin emphasized Russia’s readiness to facilitate a resolution to the Yemeni conflict while meeting with Hadi government officials in Moscow. 12 DEC: Russia closed its embassy in Sana’a and evacuated its diplomatic staff after al Houthi forces killed former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. 18 JUL: Al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Mahdi al Mashat urged Russia to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the Yemeni conflict in a letter to Russian President Putin. Al Houthi media framed the letter as an effort to reopen diplomatic relations with Russia. Maher Farrukh Russia resumes engagement in Yemen after Pompeo meets with UN envoy 1 2 4 19 JUL: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to discuss negotiations for the Yemen conflict. 3 Russian meeting with Hadi government Russian meeting with al Houthi movement/Iran Russian statement on Yemen
  5. 5. Sahel 5Reilly Andreasen Turmoil threatens integrity of Mali’s presidential election Present 18 JUL: Talataye municipality cancelled elections after violence by pro-government militias displaced the majority of the population. 1 20 JUL: Opposition leader and presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse accused the administration of inflating the number of registered voters in order to stuff the ballot box. 2 20 JUL: Militants attacked an electoral campaign convoy for Aliou Diallo in southern Mali. 3 22 JUL: Salafi-jihadi and counterterrorism operations displaced residents in the Gourma region, which may cause the government to cancel voting there. 22 JUL: Macina Liberation Front militants clashed with the Malian Army along the Mopti-Segou provincial border in a likely attempt to scare locals away from voting. 5 4
  6. 6. Libya 6 Key Protest Statement Political unrest targets UN-backed Libyan government Caitlin McMahon 17 JUL: Residents began sustained protests in the al Dreibi, Ghout al Shaal, and Hay al Andalus districts of Tripoli. 21 JUL: Sirte residents criticized GNA Prime Minister Serraj’s response to power outages and poor living conditions. 23 JUL: Former GNA Presidential Council members announced the withdrawal of eastern Libya from the Libyan Political Agreement. 1 2 3 Ghout al Shaal district Hay al Andalus district Al Dreibi district Martyrs’ Square
  7. 7. 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 ISGS: ISIS in the Greater Sahara ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham ISWA: ISIS West Africa Province 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 7
  8. 8. 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 8 al Qaeda Analysts Emily Estelle Maher Farrukh Jake Barnett Iran Analysts Mike Saidi Nicholas Carl Digital Content Associate Katie Donnelly