January 12-25, 2022 | Issue 1 - CENTCOM
Christine Saddy, Christie Hui, Elvire Vérant
Argyrios Chatziilias, Editor; Deepankar Patil, Senior Editor
Date: January 16, 2023
Parties involved: Israel; Israeli government; Israeli prisoner, Avera Mengistu; Israeli Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi; far-right Israeli politicians; Israeli forces; Palestinian militant group, Hamas; Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades; human rights organizations
The event: The Al-Qassam Brigades released a videotape of Mengistu, who is being held in the Gaza Strip since 2014. The footage reveals Mengistu calling on the Israeli government to secure his freedom. Although it was not clear when the video was taken, the group shared the video on the same day that Halevi was sworn in as the new commander of the Israeli army. Hamas warned him that he would fail to free Mengistu as his predecessor had. Hamas has not shared images or videos of Mengistu since he was captured.
Analysis & Implications:
Hamas will likely use Mengistu as a bargaining chip to negotiate new deals with Halevi. Halevi will likely be keen on citizens' approval as the new army chief and will likely start diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Mengistu. Negotiations with Hamas will likely motivate the group to hold other Israelis in captivity to use them for political pressure.
There is a roughly even chance that the video footage is recent and authentic. Human rights organizations will likely perceive the video as an indication that other longtime prisoners are also alive. These organizations will likely urge the Israeli government to negotiate the release of other prisoners under Hamas captivity.
Far-right Israeli politicians will likely advocate for military retaliation against Hamas and its Qassam Brigades. Increased violence will likely occur in the West Bank against Palestinian civilians, likely increasing casualties and tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. This will likely allow Hamas to radicalize Palestinian civilians and encourage them to retaliate with attacks against Israeli forces.
Date: January 19, 2023
Parties involved: Iran; Iran’s General Staff of the Armed Forces; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); EU; EU member states; European Parliament; NATO
The event: Iran warned the EU against designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity after the European Parliament urged the EU and its member states to do so. The EU aims to designate the IRGC due to its involvement in suppressing domestic protesters and providing drones to the Russian military for use in Ukraine. The General Staff of the Armed Forces issued a statement saying that these measures will affect global security and accused Western powers of causing unrest in Iran.
Analysis & Implications:
Iran’s public warning to EU members very likely arises out of fear of increased sanctions against individuals and companies in EU countries associated with the IRGC. Iran will likely complicate international efforts to negotiate a solution to its nuclear program if the EU continues with its decision, almost certainly further straining relations between the EU and Iran. Strained relations will likely lead Iran to portray the EU and the West’s actions as provocative, with the General Staff of the Armed Forces likely increasing negative public sentiment among citizens toward the West.
Iran will likely retaliate against the EU with cyberattacks, likely targeting governmental websites with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. This will likely increase diplomatic tensions between the EU and Iran, with a roughly even chance of affecting Iranian embassy employees and diplomats, likely pushing for their departure from the EU. NATO will likely assist EU members affected by cyberattacks by offering education, training, and infrastructure security exercises.
Date: January 21, 2023
Location: Zardad Dahri, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan
Parties involved: Pakistani government; Pakistani police officers; unknown assailants; Pakistani militant group, Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP)
The event: In northern Pakistan, unknown assailants attacked a police checkpoint, killing two officers and wounding another. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. TTP claimed responsibility for a similar attack two days earlier in the Khyber region that killed three police officers and wounded two. In recent months, the TTP has carried out several attacks in provinces close to the border with Afghanistan on police posts, after the failure of peace talks with the Pakistani government.
Analysis & Implications:
The recent TTP attacks on police stations and their high activity in the area almost certainly confirm that they carried out the latest attack. It is very likely that the militia will continue to attack individuals affiliated with the Pakistani government until peace talks are successful. More attacks on security forces’ posts will likely lead officers to leave the area to avoid confrontation with the group, which will almost certainly lead to a further deterioration in the security situation.
TTP likely targeted the checkpoint due to its proximity to Peshawar, the province’s capital, and Khyber Pass, a mountain pass bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is a roughly even chance that TTP is targeting regions near the border with Afghanistan to gain influence in the Khyber region as the Khyber Pass is an important trade route and military location. Conducting attacks near Peshawar will likely pressure the Pakistani government to coordinate counterterrorism operations and efforts to promote security in the area.
 Israel-Palestine flags by IlyaHaykinson licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)
 In threat, Hamas releases video said to show captive Israeli, AP News, January 2023, https://apnews.com/article/politics-benjamin-netanyahu-israel-west-bank-a4a018aab98405a9586f37d563e55405
 Hamas releases video it says is of Israeli man captured in Gaza in 2014, Reuters, January 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hamas-releases-video-it-says-is-israeli-man-captured-gaza-2014-2023-01-16/
 Iran warns EU not to list Revolutionary Guards as terrorist entity, Reuters, January 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iran-warns-eu-against-listing-revolutionary-guards-terrorist-entity-2023-01-19/
 Militants attack police post in Pakistan, killing 2 officers, AP News, January 2023, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-crime-tariq-khan-pakistan-9056af3e58f2fe11df00f33443ddbdf7