Afghanistan remains a safe haven for terrorist plots against the U.S. homeland. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham’s (ISIS) affiliate in Afghanistan and an American ISIS member in Pakistan coordinated an attack attempt in the U.S. in early 2016. ISIS seized at least one district in northwestern Afghanistan in early November, and is assembling new foreign fighter units. ISIS will use this safe haven to conduct new attacks abroad.
The ‘de-escalation zone’ in Syria brokered by the U.S, Russia, and Jordan threatens the strategic interests of the U.S. and its allies. The deal fails to constrain Iran and al Qaeda despite the decreased violence in Southwest Syria.
Iran provided decisive military support to compel Iraqi Kurds to surrender in Kirkuk, Iraq, on October 16, 2017. Military forces from three major Iranian proxies participated in the operation: Katai’b Hezbollah, Asai’b Ahl al Haq, and the Badr Organization. Iran did not attempt to outshine Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in public. Iran instead allowed Abadi to take credit, while quietly positioning its proxies to influence Kirkuk in the future.
Turkey is cooperating with al Qaeda to threaten the Syrian Kurdish YPG in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s intervention in Idlib Province is setting conditions for a de facto safe haven for jihadists in Syria that will jeopardize the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda.
Russia has likely exploited recent tensions between Hungary and Ukraine to support its campaign to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its neighbors. The Kremlin has also revived its subversion in Western Ukraine focusing on minorities’ autonomy issues. It is unlikely that the Kremlin intends to create an insurgency there as it did in Eastern Ukraine, but it may create another fissure that destabilizes Kyiv.
This graphic marks the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. This graphic depicts significant developments in the Syrian Civil War from October 10 - 24, 2017. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of October 10, 2017.
A battle is underway between the Iraqi Government, backed by Iran, and Iraqi Kurds for control of Kirkuk, Iraq. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Counterterrorism Services (CTS), Federal Police, and Iranian-backed popular mobilization forces (PMF) launched a combined offensive with intent to seize the K1 military base, the Kirkuk airport, and Kirkuk’s oilfields from Kurdish Peshmerga forces at 2:00 a.m. on October 15th.
This graphic marks the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. This graphic depicts significant developments in the Syrian Civil War from September 27 – October 10, 2017. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of October 10, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to leverage uncontested basing in the Eastern Mediterranean to demonstrate Russian naval capabilities, while asserting its freedom of action on NATO’s southern flank. Russia focused on showcasing the increased cruise missile capability of its Black Sea Fleet’s permanent Mediterranean Task Force (MTF) from August – October 2017.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s drive for independence is generating new regional alignments that deepen Iranian – and potentially Russian – influence in Iraq at the expense of the United States. Turkey, Iran, and Iraq adopted a coordinated, aggressive force posture in retaliation for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) independence referendum on September 25, 2017.