This Week in Irregular Warfare
Saudi Arabia offers ceasefire to Houthis; U.S. intelligence predicts Taliban victory; Insurgency in Mozambique; Progress in Libya; and more…
Welcome to the latest installment of The Irregular Warrior’s news digest on Irregular Warfare and Special Operations. We hope you’ll find this collection to be interestingly broad in its scope, in addition to bringing you the stories most relevant to U.S. readers. To that end, we’ll be updating the format as we go in order to make this product as useful and informative as possible. Now on to the roundup:
Saudi Arabia offers a ceasefire to the Houthi Rebels
The Saudi Foreign Minister offered a ceasefire for the six-year war that has sunk the country into one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent years. The ceasefire plan includes a partial lift of the blockade of the Sana international airport and some seaports. However, the offer does not appear to be appealing for the Houthis. The Houthis insist on complete lift of the blockade from the Hodeidah port and, more generally, a separation of humanitarian issues from political negotiations. The Guardian, March 22. [Saudi Arabia proposes ceasefire plan to Yemen’s Houthi rebels | Yemen | The Guardian]
Terrorism Warrants issued for exiled Algerian activists
An Algerian court issued arrest warrants for three exiled activists under terrorism charges. The activists included a former diplomat, a blogger and a journalist. The three have been accused of turning a peaceful protest into a violent one. The former diplomat, Mohamed Larbi Zeitout is the founder of the political movement “Rachad.” Its membership includes some former Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) members. Rachad is accused of sending these FIS members into the protest to stir up violence. The warrants come at the time when anti-government rallies are increasing as Algeria awaits parliamentary elections in June. Al Jazeera, March 22. [Algeria issues ‘terrorism’ warrants for exiled activists | Politics News | Al Jazeera]
US intelligence predicts Taliban take-over after withdrawal of foreign troops
As the Afghan peace process proceeds and enters its final rounds, an intelligence assessment has to surfaced in Washington. U.S. intelligence predicts the Taliban’s coming back to power if U.S. troops are evacuated without a proper power sharing mechanism. Some the U.S. officials against the withdrawal deal have relied on the assessment to argue that withdrawal might give ground to terrorist entities such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State to regain their strength, as well as allowing the Taliban to roll back gains in women’s rights. The New York Times, March 26. [Officials Try to Sway Biden Using Intelligence on Potential for Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan – The New York Times (nytimes.com)]
Mozambique responds militarily after Islamic State attack
There is ongoing fighting between Islamic State fighters, government security forces, and private militia in the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. The situation is dire, with bodies littering in the streets. The attack is part of an ongoing insurgency that has become a major threat for the region. Security forces are trying to restore law and order. All three parties have been accused of “war crimes” for civilian deaths and destruction of civilian property. Al Jazeera, March 25. [Mozambique military launches offensive after ISIL attack | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera]
The insurgency in Cabo Delgado began after the discovery of large deposits of rubies andnatural gas. Expectations had been raised that the resources would lift the local community out of poverty, but few of the jobs ended up going to Cabo Delgado workers, while Mozambican elites and foreign investors reaped the vast majority of the benefits. Weak institutions, transnational crime, and heavy-handedness by the government have exacerbated the situation. It is little wonder, then, that the Islamic State would seize upon this classic case of the “resource curse” as an opportunity to spread its influence to yet another fragile region.
Libyan commander wanted for war crimes by ICC shot dead
Mahmoud al-Werfalli, Commander of Libyan National Army (LNA) and “a relentless and merciless killer,” was shot dead in Benghazi by unidentified attackers. The killing of al-Werfalli marks a turning point for a weakening LNA as it will have to face a number of social, political and military challenges. But it could also lead to a series of retaliatory attacks. Al Jazeera, March 24. [Libyan commander wanted for war crimes by ICC shot dead | Middle East News | Al Jazeera]
While the killing of al-Werfalli may remove a key figure in LNA’s power structure, the newly minted Government of National Unity (GNU) will be have to confront any violent reactions to his death at a time when it is already strained by a precarious security environment. And this additional strain is placed on the GNU at a time when it is already saddled with difficult tasks—effectively merging state institutions that were divided by years of competing governments and managing upcoming elections. Both of these tasks, if not conducted flawlessly, could rekindle the conflict.
Libyan government demands for complete withdrawal of mercenaries
In an effort to regain sovereignty and peace within the region, the new Libyan government demanded pull-out of the foreign forces. French, German, and Italian counterparts joined the GNU in the call for the withdrawal of all mercenaries, stating that there is no other solution to this crisis. To overcome the problem of crippling inflation and endemic corruption, the diplomats agreed that the departure of foreign forces is important to ending the crisis, as is the opening of the coastal road. Al Jazeera, March 25. [Libya demands mercenary pullout; Syrian militia on its way | Conflict News | Al Jazeera]
The reopening of various embassies, including France, Italy, Russia, Germany, and Egypt provide a good indicator that the security situation in Libya is improving. Additionally, the presence of these embassies will make foreign assistance and advice much more readily available to the newly-seated NGU. This will make the tough road ahead a little more manageable.