Spotlight on Iran (October 20 – November 3, 2019)

The responses of Iranian official to the assassination of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reflected an Iranian attempt to minimize the significance of the American action and attribute it to domestic political calculations in the United States. Iran welcomed the agreement reached between the Russian and Turkish presidents concerning the withdrawal of Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria. Following the protests in Lebanon and Iraq, Iranian officials, chief among them Supreme Leader Khamenei, blamed the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for fomenting the protests. Against the backdrop of ongoing efforts to end the war in Yemen, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs met in Tehran the spokesman of the Houthi rebels in Yemen and discussed the latest developments in the country and ongoing political negotiations concerning the settlement of the war in Yemen.

Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 24-30, 2019)

The main event of the week was the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by an elite force of the US Army in northwestern Syria, near the border with Turkey. A few hours after the killing of Al-Baghdadi, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was also killed. Even after the killing of Al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s routine activity on the ground continued in Syria and Iraq and in the various provinces in Africa and Asia.

The significance of the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Initial assessment)

The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdad by an elite American force is a serious blow to ISIS. A charismatic, authoritarian leader, he was the dominant figure in the ISIS leadership. His uniqueness was his unsuccessful attempt, the first of its kind, to establish an Islamic Caliphate, here and now, which would restore to Islam the glory of its beginnings.

Spotlight on Global Jihad (October 7-23, 2019)

On October 9, 2019, the Turkish army and the rebel organizations that it supports launched a large-scale operation in northeastern Syria. The Turkish invasion is expected to increase the scope of ISIS’s activity in the Syrian arena, with emphasis on the Kurdish-controlled areas. In the Iraqi arena, ISIS resumed its attacks after a brief lull (October 5-15, 2019). The reasons for the lull are still unclear. The attacks focused on the Diyala Province, and most of the activity took the form of detonating IEDs and sniper fire. ISIS’s provinces in Africa and Asia continued their “routine” activity.

Spotlight on Iran (October 6, 2019 – October 20, 2019)

Iran condemned the Turkish invasion of northern Syria and demanded that Turkey halt the operation. Iranian officials and media have been presenting the wave of protests that rocked Iraq in early October as a sign of a “Western plot” and blamed the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Western media for fanning the flames of the protests. In mid-October, over three million Iranian pilgrims arrived in Iraq to mark the ‘Arbaeen holy day, which marks the end of the 40 mourning days of the death of the Shia Imam Hussein (marked on the ‘Ashoura holy day).

Iran’s Conduct in Recent Months Indicates a Shift to Direct Military Action over Use of Proxies

Since abandoning its “strategic patience” policy in May 2019, which Iran adopted following the announcement by U.S. President, Donald Trump, in May 2018, to withdraw from the JCPOA and re-impose sanctions against it, Tehran initiated a number of offensive operations in the Persian Gulf region

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