Beyond the Wire - 28 JUN 17
June 28, 2017
Your daily briefing on the state of the world and the state of the art for all things Transnational Threats.
Who will control Raqqa after its liberation?
Hassan Hassan, writing in this month’s CTC Sentinel, argues that with no group ready to assume control of the city, small militias and tribes are likely to look to consolidate their power in Raqqa. Hassan argues that the future governing force, whether it is tribes, the Kurds, or the SDF, must steer clear of committing abuses or governing ineffectively, both of which could incite further conflict. (TNT Comment: Similar operations to clear Fallujah and Mosul ended with the government seizing control of the territory but failed to govern effectively. In Raqqa, the lack of government authority raises the possibility of ethno-sectarian war or the return of jihadist groups.)
Iran’s push for influence in the Middle East.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Michael Horowitz argues that as the war against the Islamic State focuses on the group’s last strongholds, Iran is concentrating its efforts on securing a “land corridor” from its eastern border to the Mediterranean. That objective fuels the U.S.-Iran rivalry, as Iran-supported militias and hardware continue to operate near coalition troops. As a result, U.S. aircraft have shot down several drones recently. Per Horowitz, the United States must define its Iranian policy quickly, or risk being dragged into a much larger conflict. (TNT Comment: Iran’s push towards the Mediterranean is also likely to raise tensions with Israel, as both Israel and Jordan attempt to slow Iran’s increasing influence.)
Is al Qaeda in decline?
Daniel Byman assesses whether the organization, which has not has a successful spectacular attack in ten years, is in decline. He suggests that though a denuded Islamic State may clear the path for a resurgent al Qaeda, the latter group’s lack of funding or adherents may in fact render it permanently inept. (TNT Comment: As Byman rightly concludes, the wider movement is alive and well. His commentary adds to a wider body of research suggesting the new wave of militancy will be less hierarchical or high-end, but more prolific in small-scale attacks.)
LTG Nagata speaks on terrorism. In an interview with Westpoint’s CTC Sentinel, LTG Michael K. Nagata talks about the current threat of violent extremism, al Qaeda’s resiliency, and overall U.S. strategy towards terrorism. (CTC)
CENTCOM dictating U.S. Syria policy? The Atlantic Council’s Frederic C. Hof explains the consequences of U.S. policy in Syria that is heavily dictated by U.S. Central Command. (Atlantic Council)
Turkey vs. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham in Idlib. Hassan Hassan examines the inter opposition dynamic in Syria’s Idlib and offers policy suggestions regarding how Turkey can to limit Tahrir al Sham’s (HTS) influence in the city. (The National)
Six arrested with Islamic State links in Germany, Spain, and Britain. The Spanish interior ministry announced that police forces from the three countries arrested the individuals for circulating extremist propaganda and organizing recruiting meetings. (Al Arabiya)
French-UK task force disrupts terrorism funds. A combined French and UK Task Force (CTF150) conducted “Operation Southern Surge” and seized roughly 1250 kg of heroin and 455 kg of hashish in the Indian Ocean intended to fund terrorism. (CMF)
Islamic State changes tactics in Raqqa. The Islamic State now uses small groups of suicide bombers to disrupt the U.S.-backed SDF’s offensive in Raqqa instead of deploying large numbers of fighters and SVBIEDs. (VOA)
How does the United States engage Pakistan? Hussain Nadim adds nuance to the debate about the United States ability to change Pakistan’s behavior towards militant proxies. (War on the Rocks)
Jihadists increase presence in Asia. United States Admiral Harry Harris contends that the battle for Marawi must serve as a reminder that Salafi-jihadi groups are actively seeking new fronts in Asia. (WSJ)
Police helicopter fires on Venezuelan government buildings, maybe. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that “terrorists” fired 15 shots at the country’s Interior Ministry and dropped four grenades on the Supreme Court in a failed coup attempt in Caracas. (Reuters)
Bashar al Assad, lookin’ at stuff. The Syrian president toured Russia’s air base south of Latakia just hours after the Trump administration warned the regime might be preparing a new chemical weapons attack in Syria. (Warzone)
In the Weeds
More on Iraq
Islamic State Tries to Regroup as Mosul Losses Mount (VOA)
U.N. goes stealth to help rebuild ISIS-ravaged Iraq (CBS)
Iraqi military says it has retaken two Mosul neighborhoods from Islamic State (Reuters)
More on the Philippines
Philippine leader tells troops not to fear civilian deaths (Daily Star)
Philippines says beheaded civilians found in rebel-held town (Reuters)
Philippine Muslims fear Marawi fighting may deepen communal discord (Reuters)