Beyond the Wire - 17 APR 2017
April 17, 2017
Your daily briefing on the state of the world and the state of the art for all things Transnational Threats.
Turkey approves additional presidential powers for Erdogan.
Constitutional changes, which mostly go into effect after 2019 elections, will replace the parliamentary system with a presidential one. The president will have the power to appoint a cabinet, to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval, to dissolve parliament, and to declare a state of emergency. The “yes” vote garnered more than 51 percent of the hand-counted ballots while the “no” vote received slightly under 49. (TNT Comment: Prior to the referendum vote Turkish police conducted several anti-terrorism arrests across the state. Turkey arrested supporters of the Islamic State, which advocated for its supporters to sabotage the referendum any way they could. The high-profile nature of the arrests is likely to reinforce Erdogan’s argument that sweeping reform is needed to address Turkey’s security challenges posed by the ongoing Syrian civil war, Gulenists, and Kurdish separatists.)
Libya continues to worsen as infighting escalates.
Fighting between the three different groups that claim to be the government of Libya is only exacerbated by the increasing support from external actors, with each of the three sides receiving some form of external aid. Power shifts between the three groups will continue to occur as supplies run low and external actors shift alliances. (TNT Comment: Russia and the United States, already on opposing sides in Syria, are similarly opposed in Libya as Russia continues a policy of challenging U.S. power at its periphery.)
Islamic State steps up use of gas attacks.
Over the last 48 hours, the Islamic State perpetrated two gas attacks against Iraqi soldiers in separate neighborhoods of western Mosul causing several soldiers to suffer breathing difficulties, but no deaths were reported to occur from the attack. These attacks come as the Iraqi Army continues to clear door to door through western Mosul to retake the city from the Islamic State group. (TNT Comment: The Islamic State has periodically used chemical weapons in its fight against the Iraqi Army, with limited impact. The use of chemical weapons in western Mosul is a possible indicator that the Islamic State is getting desperate as Iraqi and coalition forces continue to gain ground.)
Significant ActivityProfiles of the new European jihadis. The Guardian’s Olivier Roy exposes how European violent extremists adopt Islam to justify their behavior and do not ‘radicalize’ in a traditional sense. (The Guardian)
Bus attack kills 112 in Syria. The bus convoy was evacuating pro-regime civilians from Idlib province. (The Hill)
McMaster visits Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to strengthen. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and the national security advisor met to discuss the Taliban as well as the increase in operations by terrorist groups working from Pakistan.(NYT)
101st Airborne arrives in Mogadishu, Somalia. The security assistance forces will assist the Somali military with their logistics capabilities separate from the anti-Shabaab SOF force. (Military Times)
What’s next in Iraq? Ambassador Gary Grappo outlines those competing for a slice of the post-Islamic State Iraq. (Cipher Brief)
Russian airstrikes continue to pay dividends for Syrian Army. The Syrian army continued its push towards the city of Hama, capturing the strategic city of Soran, while backed by substantial Russian airpower. (Reuters)
Pakistani military conducts anti-terror raid. A successful anti-terror raid prevented an Easter Sunday terror attack meant to target celebrations in Lahore. (The Hill)
Former President of Afghanistan decries use of MOAB. Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, criticized the current government for allowing the United States to drop its largest non-nuclear bomb. (NYT)
Increasing threats in Yemen create difficult policy decisions for the United States. As the civil war in Yemen continues, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE continue to get more involved in the increasingly complex and volatile environment. (Defense One)
Flooding increases the humanitarian crisis in Western Mosul. With supplies unable to be brought into the city and fleeing civilians only able to cross the Tigris by boat, many civilians cannot find relief from the fighting in Mosul. (Reuters)
April’s West Point CTC Sentinel is out. The issue features assessments of the Islamic States’ defense of Mosul, youth radicalization in Jordan, and Iran-al Qaeda cooperation. (CTC)