April 14-20, 2022 | Issue 4 - CENTCOM
Elizabeth Leoce, Giorgio Tiberio, Sofia Pantoula, Alberto Suarez, CENTCOM Team
Carlos Hockberger, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff
Date: April 18, 2022
Location: Marib, Yemen
Parties involved: Yemeni Government; Yemeni army; United Arab Emirates (UAE); Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition; Houthis; United Nations
The event: The Yemeni army on Marib's southern front has been under Houthi attack, despite the recent announcement of a two-month UN-brokered ceasefire between the Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The fighting there stems from the beginning of the year when UAE-backed Yemeni forces took control of the Shabwah governorate. In response, the Houthis claim that the Saudi-led coalition and the Yemeni government are not fulfilling their part of the truce, which includes unrestricted access to Hodeidah’s port and the resumption of flights from Sana’a Airport.
Analysis & Implications:
It is likely that the Saudi-led coalition will attack the Yemeni government and likely end the cease-fire. Breaking the ceasefire shows that UN-facilitated diplomatic attempts are not likely to end violence, which almost certainly will affect its credibility in its ability to end the war in Yemen. The UN’s poor credibility in Yemen will likely expand to other regional conflicts’ negotiating tables, such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, and any hope of a possible cease-fire.
A successful operation will likely give the Houthis control over Yemen’s western and northern regions, where the country's crude oil production centers are located. Having control over the country’s crude oil production sites will likely improve the Houthis’ political position, likely allowing them to gain more power in political decision-making. This will likely help the Houthis determine their position in the conflict, likely allowing them to increase their regional dominance. The UAE and Saudi Arabia will likely condemn Houthis’ political gain and will likely question the legitimacy of Yemen’s current president in safeguarding the region's oil production sites.
Date: April 19, 2022
Location: Dasht-e-Barchi, Kabul, Afghanistan
Parties involved: Afghan government; Taliban; Shia Hazaras; ISIS-K; Pakistan
The event: Three explosions targeting educational institutions in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least six people and injured 20. A blast occurred near Mumtaz Education Center, and two explosions close to the boys’ High School Abdul Rahim Shaheed, in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood. At the time of report, there has been no claim of responsibility and casualties are likely to increase. The primarily Shia Hazara neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi has previously been targeted by the Islamic State. In the past, the Taliban have repeatedly targeted the Hazara minority.
Analysis & Implications:
The attack was likely perpetrated by ISIS-K, trying to undermine the Taliban’s authority in Afghanistan. The return of Taliban rule likely averts attention away from ISIS-K, who likely believe they lack influence in Afghanistan. ISIS-K will likely gain strength through “smaller” offensive attacks, such as targeting educational institutions, until they feel ready to expand its operation. Growing numbers of attacks will likely attract the attention of the international community to ISIS-K, demonstrating that the militant group is still a threat. The Taliban’s ineffectiveness against ISIS-K will likely fuel international uncertainty about security in Afghanistan, which will very likely weaken the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. This situation is likely to worsen the already low standard of living in Afghanistan.
It is almost certain that targeting the neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi is a continuation of sectarian violence against Shia Muslims. Although the Taliban have perpetrated attacks against the Shia Hazara community in the past, it is likely the Taliban will strengthen the security measures in predominantly Shia Hazara neighborhoods to prevent future attacks against the minority. Increased Taliban presence in these neighborhoods will likely compel ISIS-K to turn its attention to opportunity attacks in other areas in Kabul.
Date: April 20, 2022
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Parties involved: Israeli right-wing activists; Jewish worshippers; Hamas; Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
The event: Israeli right-wing nationalists announced a march would take place in the Old City on Wednesday, which would be occurring without police approval. On the same day, thousands of Jewish worshippers will be praying at the Western Wall for the semi-annual blessing ceremony of “Birkat kohanim” celebrated between Passover and Sukkot festivals. Security measures in the Old City have been tightened through checkpoints, police patrols, and traffic restrictions. Hamas has called for an escalation, firing a rocket from the Gaza Strip, issuing new threats following last week’s events on the Temple Mount.
Analysis & Implications:
Palestinian residents in the Old City's Muslim Quarter will very likely oppose the march as they likely see Israel’s presence in Jerusalem as a threat to the ongoing occupation. They will likely seek to block the march, likely causing injuries among right-wing activists by enacting violence, such as throwing rocks. The current security measures will very likely prevent large attacks as checkpoints and patrols will almost certainly hinder and deter coordinated actions. Terrorist group sleeper cells are likely to carry out smaller, undetected attacks, as their capacity to infiltrate and attack communities is likely easier due to their improvised nature in comparison to a planned attack involving multiple perpetrators.
PIJ will likely launch sporadic rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, as its military capabilities in the Gaza Strip have not been fully restored after the airstrikes carried out by the IDF in 2021. Rocket attacks will very unlikely cause effective damage to neighboring towns due to Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, which will almost certainly reduce civilian casualties and damages against essential infrastructure, such as roads or water supply networks. Rocket attacks will almost certainly lead the IDF to conduct airstrikes against Hamas and PIJ in Gaza, in an effort to neutralize rocket launch facilities. Retaliatory airstrikes will very likely result in collateral damages and civilian casualties, almost certainly straining local healthcare services.
________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)
 Fighting rages in Marib despite UN truce, Al Jazeera, April 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/18/fighting-rages-in-marib-despite-un-truce
 At Least Six Dead In Series Of Blasts At School In Afghan Capital, Gandhara, April 2022, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-kabul-explosions-boys-school/31810529.html
 Why the Hazara people fear genocide in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera, October 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/10/27/why-the-hazara-people-fear-genocide-in-afghanistan
 Hamas says ‘finger on the trigger’ ahead of planned right-wing Jerusalem march, The Times of Israel, April 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-says-our-fingers-on-the-trigger-ahead-of-planned-right-wing-jerusalem-march/