Iraq’s political crisis has degenerated further as a majority of Iraqi parties, including the Kurdish parties and the Sunni Etihad bloc, have boycotted parliament sessions following the April 30 breach of the Green Zone by Sadrist demonstrators.
May 9 Update: Multiple political parties announced that they would boycott any upcoming session of the Council of Representatives (CoR). The Sunni Etihad bloc announced on May 9 that it would not attend any parliamentary session until those responsible for the April 30 protests were held accountable.
This graphic is an approximate depiction of the current state of the Council of Representatives. It shows the number and party affiliation of CoR members who have boycotted future parliamentary sessions. It also shows the number and party affiliation of CoR members whom ISW assesses may be part of the Reform Front.
The U.S. and Russia brokered an agreement to extend a temporary "regime of silence" to Aleppo City for 48 hours beginning on May 5. The agreement follows 10 days of violence in Aleppo City that killed at least 250 people and damaged at least 5 hospitals. Nonetheless, the renewed diplomatic effort to prevent an escalation in Aleppo City and re-institute a nationwide 'cessation of hostilities' faces severe challenges.
ISIS continued to pursue its regional campaign objectives of establishing affiliates and increasing disorder throughout historically Muslim lands. ISIS is preparing for a global surge of activities before and during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which will take place between June 6 and July 5, 2016.
Russia continued to aggressively posture against NATO in the Baltic and Black Sea regions while presenting itself as a responsible regional actor and victim of alleged western provocation. The first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council since June 2014 failed to make concrete progress, and the Russian Minister of Defense accused NATO of provocative troop deployments in Eastern Europe. Russia continued to conduct a campaign of information warfare against the Baltic States paired with political pressure and military provocation.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced his decision to deploy 250 additional Special Operations Forces to northern Syria, raising the total number of U.S. personnel in the country to 300. Obama emphasized that the new forces will “not be leading the fight on the ground” but instead work to recruit, train, and assist Sunni Arab fighters within the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in preparation for future operations to isolate the ISIS stronghold of Ar-Raqqa City.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have set the stage for an imminent offensive to complete the encirclement of Aleppo City. If successful, this could deliver a decisive blow to the powerful armed groups in Aleppo City that drives the opposition towards radicalization and a merger with Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.