Iraq

Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 25 – April 7, 2021)

The main event was the takeover of the city of Palma by operatives of ISIS’s Central Africa Province. Syria: In the Idlib region, artillery exchanges continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it and the rebel forces. Iraq: ISIS’s activity in the past two weeks focused on carrying out attacks against police and army posts in the Kirkuk Province. The Sinai Peninsula: Over the past two weeks, ISIS operatives continued to carry out targeted attacks against the Egyptian security forces, as well as abducting civilians suspected of collaborating with the security forces.
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Analysis of the activity of ISIS’s branches in Congo and Mozambique following the imposition of US sanctions

Following the expansion of ISIS’s activity in the past year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Mozambique, the US Department of State announced on March 10, 2021, the imposition of economic sanctions on ISIS’s branch in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its leader, Seka Musa Baluku, and ISIS’s branch in Mozambique and its leader, Abu Yasir Hassan (website of the US Department of State, March 10, 2021)
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Spotlight on Iran (March 21, 2021 – April 4, 2021)

The activity of Iran and its proxies in eastern Syria: fighters of the Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade, which operates under the guidance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Syria held training maneuvers in southeastern Syria. An investigation of Agence France-Presse revealed that the control of Shia pro-Iranian militias of Iraq’s border crossings has allowed them to funnel billions of dollars in customs duties, which ought to have been collected by the State, to their own coffers, to political parties connected to them and corrupt officials. In the economic sphere: the head of the Joint Iranian-Syrian Chamber of Commerce estimated that the volume of trade between Iran and Syria will rise in the coming year. The Iranian ambassador to Yemen rejected the Saudi peace proposal for resolving the crisis in Yemen and declared that any real initiative to end the war will entail lifting the siege placed on Yemen, withdrawing of Saudi armed forces, and an end to Saudi Arabia’s support for its “mercenaries” in the country.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 18-24, 2021)

Syria: In the Idlib region, exchanges of artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. In the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region, ISIS operatives continued to attack Kurdish SDF forces. Iraq: This week, there was a decrease in the volume of ISIS’s terrorist activity. As part of ISIS’s “economic war,” its operatives blew up two high-voltage pylons in the Al-Khales region, about 10 km northwest of Baqubah. Sinai: There was a decrease in ISIS’s terrorist activity in the Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid region. Africa: ISIS’s intensive activity in Africa continues. In the United States: a man opened fire in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. At least 10 people were killed, including a police officer.
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Spotlight on Iran (March 7, 2021 – March 21, 2021)

Two fighters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) were killed in a mine explosion in al-Mayadin, eastern Syria. The advisor on foreign affairs to the supreme leader of Iran met with the incoming Syrian ambassador to Tehran and passed on the wishes of speedy recovery from the supreme leader of Iran to the Syrian president, who recently contracted COVID-19. In an extraordinary statement, a former Iranian Majlis member stated that it can not be ruled out that Syria will change its approach toward Iran is the future, and hence Iran must not place all its eggs in President Assad’s basket. The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad met with the Iraqi minister of finance and discussed the issue of releasing Iranian funds frozen in Iraqi banks due to Western sanctions. Esmail Qa’ani, the Commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, stated in a commemoration ceremony in the city of Mashhad that Israel is forced to wall itself off to protect itself, and warned “the Zionists” that they should know that this wall too will be destroyed.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 11-17, 2021)

Syria: In the Idlib region, exchanges of artillery fire continued south and southwest of Idlib between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. Iraq: ISIS’s activity in the Salah al-Din Province this week consisted mainly of breaking into the homes of those suspected of collaborating with the authorities. Africa: In view of the recent expansion of ISIS’s activity in Africa, the US Department of State has approved the imposition of economic sanctions on ISIS’s branch in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its leader, and on ISIS’s branch in Mozambique and its leader.
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Iraq

The Republic of Iraq (الجمهورية العراقية – Al-Jumhūrīyya Al-‘Irāqīyya) borders with Turkey in the north, Syria and Jordan in the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the south, and Iran in the east. Iraq has a population of over 31 million, the vast majority of whom are Arabs (97% Muslim, 65% Shiite and 35% Sunni). In northeastern Iraq there is an autonomous Kurdish entity known as Iraqi Kurdistan. There are no relations between the State of Israel and Iraq, and Iraq refuses to recognize Israel.

After the Iraq war, the country was run by a coalition of countries that had invaded Iraq, headed by the United States. In 2005, civilian control was transferred to the interim Iraqi government that was appointed after a general election for a temporary parliament, which was held for the first time in the history of Iraq. In 2006, a permanent Shiite government was formed, and thus a change of government took place in Iraq, which had been in the hands of the Sunnis up to that time. In December 2011, the last American soldiers stationed in Iraq left the country.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a branch of Al-Qaeda was established in Iraq, headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. This branch later evolved into ISIS. This branch, which enjoyed widespread support among the Sunni population in Iraq, carried out terrorist attacks directed against Shiite civilians and against the Iraqi regime. In 2014, in the city of Mosul, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and took control of vast areas in western and northwestern Iraq, with the intention of taking control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the years that followed, through efforts by the Iraqi security forces and local militias supported by the United States, these areas were liberated and ISIS slowly began to lose its power.