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YATHABALWE SURRENDERS TO NIGERIAN TROOPS DURING OPERATION HADIN KAI AND ROCKET ATTACK ON PRIME MINISTER AL-DBEIBAH'S RESIDENCE IN TRIPOLI

March 28- April 3, 2024 | Issue 13 - AFRICOM and Weapons & Tactics

Léonard Vacelet–Revolio, Zara Price, Leon Kille, Mateo Maya, Agathe Labadi, Nicholas Novak, Martina Sclaverano, W/T

Alya Fathia Fitri, Editor; Christina Valdez, Senior Editor


National Guard Special Forces Training the Nigerian Army to Counter Boko Haram[1] 


Date: March 29, 2024

Location: Gwoza, Nigeria

Parties involved: Nigeria; Nigerian Army; Chad; Cameroon; Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK) troops; Top wanted commander of Boko Haram Mallam Yathabalwe; Gwoza monarch HRH Alhaji Timta; Boko Haram; IS–West Africa Province (ISWAP); Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF); Nigerian farmers

The event: Yathabalwe willingly surrendered to Nigerian troops during Operation Hadin Kai. The operation led by the Nigerian Army aims to defeat insurgent groups, especially Boko Haram and ISWAP, inside Nigeria through different strategies, such as airstrikes and direct actions. Timta announced that Yathabalwe is in the custody of military troops in Gwoza, before a transfer to the Borno State capital Maiduguri for further questioning. Yathabalwe terrorized farmers in the region for years, attacking villages and preventing farmers’ access to their farmlands. He surrendered to Nigerian authorities in the past but rejoined Boko Haram.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The capture of Yathabalwe will likely hinder Boko Haram activity in the next few weeks. Local Boko Haram militants will likely temporarily suffer from the loss of an experienced commander and likely require some time to reorganize their chain of command and strategy. In case Boko Haram already devised a plan before Yathabalwe’s departure, remaining Boko Haram forces will likely return to their activities within a month. During this time Boko Haram will likely mainly focus on training, collection of weaponry, and financing activities such as human trafficking, looting, and weapons manufacturing.

  • Yathabalwe's surrender will likely enable the army to gain ascendancy against Boko Haram in the Gwoza region. The Nigerian and MNJTF forces will very likely increase military pressure on terrorist organizations, likely using attrition tactics with ground troops and air strikes to weaken Boko Haram and ISWAP’s operational and reorganization capabilities. They will very likely continue targeting logistics areas, strategic routes for arms trafficking, and strategic fallback areas in the northeast of the country close to the Chadian and Cameroonian borders, to prevent future hit-and-run attacks. Massive counter-terrorism operations, without a lasting state presence in affected areas, will unlikely be sufficient to re-establish effective control by the Nigerian state over its territory.


Date: March 31, 2024

Location: Tripoli, Libya

Parties involved:  Libya; Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah; unknown perpetrator; Government of National Unity (GNU); Government of National Stability (GNS); House of Representatives (HoR); Presidency Council; High State Council (HSC); Libyan rival factions and armed groups; "Semi-official" security forces; 166 Brigade; UN

The event: An unknown perpetrator targeted the residence of al-Dbeibah with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) on Sunday, causing no casualties. Heavy security forces deployed to the Hay Andalus neighborhood following the attack. Tripoli has perpetually been the location of violent clashes between various armed factions. An UN-backed process installed al-Dbeibah’s government in 2021, however, the country’s parliament in the East stopped recognizing them after a failed national election the same year.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The attack will likely exacerbate tensions between rival political factions from eastern and western Libya, likely seeking to increase their political influence and extend their control over strategic institutions. Al-Dbeibah will likely use this attack as a reason to oppose any future political agreement between the Presidency Council, the HSC, and the HoR to form a new government, likely leading threat actors to retaliate, using more lethal tactics such as IEDs, rocket launches, and direct ground actions to dissuade al-Dbeibah from continuing as Prime Minister. Al-Dbeibah’s government and support will likely launch disinformation campaigns and fake news linking their opponents to armed groups, likely trying to decrease the public’s trust in the GNS and election candidates. This strategy will likely further delay electoral progress and prevent political cohesion between leaders of key political institutions, likely allowing armed factions to gain territory control and regional influence over strategic areas like oil fields, political institutions, and military bases, very likely increasing instability.

  • Libyan officials will very likely deploy security forces for personal security in response to the attack. Libyan authorities will very likely deploy the 166 Brigade to escort government officials in the Hay Al-Andalus neighborhood and the main governmental buildings, likely stationing the 166 Brigade as a rapid reaction contingent for high-level targets and as a deterring element. Opposing factions will likely perceive the increasing presence of “semi-official” security forces in governmental areas as an aggressive move. These security forces will likely conduct waves of arrests, likely leading to arbitrary detentions, with a roughly even chance that armed clashes will erupt between different armed groups.


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[2] Nigeria: Gwoza Emir Confirms Surrender of Most-Wanted Boko Haram Commander, AllAfrica, March 2024, https://allafrica.com/stories/202403290341.html 

[3] Libyan PM's residence targeted with RPGs, no casualties reported, Reuters, April 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/residence-libyan-pm-targeted-with-rpgs-no-casualties-reported-minister-says-2024-03-31/

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