ISW Daily Update March 13, 2017
These are the major events from March 13, 2017 in the theaters and from the trans-national groups that ISW monitors: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, and ISIS.
SYRIA: Al-Qaeda in Syria has shifted to a new phase of military operations against pro-regime forces. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – the successor of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria - detonated two SVESTs targeting alleged Iraqi Shi’a pilgrims in the Old City of Damascus on March 11, inflicting heavy casualties. HTS conducted a complex attack involving five SVESTs against two regime intelligence branches in Homs City on February 25. Al-Qaeda will use spectacular attacks to set conditions for future offensive operations while the group consolidates in Idlib Province.
IRAQ: Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance (SLA) secured greater control over the parliamentary committee to select a new Commissioner’s Board for the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the government body that governs Iraqi provincial and national elections. The Committee pressured the acting chairman from the Kurdish Gorran bloc to resign, replacing him with a SLA member. The IHEC Board is now more likely to remain aligned with the ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2018, advancing Maliki’s agenda.
AFG: Russia continues to court Afghan government officials in order to undermine the U.S and NATO. Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar is scheduled to meet with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow in mid-MAR, following a meeting between Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani in Moscow in FEB 2017. Russia will use peace talks between the Afghan National Unity Government and the Taliban as a means to overshadow and eject the U.S. and NATO.