Iraq – Throughout the reporting period there have many attacks throughout the country. Sectarian violence continues and shows no sign of abating. It is difficult to assess how this will end as both sides show no sign of letting up. The security forces appear to be powerless and the government is not showing any leadership. This trend will continue until the government takes the lead and the security forces have someone who can lead its forces and stop the flow of weapons and explosives into the country and arrest those who are members of terrorist organizations.
Israel – The Israeli Prime Minister has resurrected the threat of attacking Iran. In a statement recently released on al-Jazeera he explained that Iran is getting closer to the red line that will define Israeli action. The Israelis have a different train of thought on the matter, especially as the American Administration is acting slowly even though Israel has requested the Obama government to explain to the newly-elected President of Iran that they cannot get the bomb and that the Israeli policy will not change. The Israelis believe that they are more vulnerable than the United States as they are closer, but the question and answer that the Israeli’s have requested is not forthcoming and which is causing concern. If an attack was likely to happen then the Middle East will explode and those that are in current conflicts may briefly turn their attention on Israel as they will be seen to be attacking Muslims irrespective of which sect they belong to.
Lebanon – On July 9, al-Jazeera reported a Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) had been detonated in Dahiyeh, southern Lebanon resulting in a number of deaths. It was reported that the vehicle was parked in a parking area near to an Islamic center. The area is a stronghold of the terrorist group Hezbollah who are assisting President Assad’s forces in Syria. The attack will be an attempt to destabilize the home land of Hezbollah as Syrian groups opposing the Assad regime have stated in the past that they will target Hezbollah in Lebanon. Attacks of this nature will continue whilst the group assists the Syrian army. An organization known as the ‘313 Brigade’ claimed responsibility for the attack and bears the same name as an al-Qaeda unit that operates in Pakistan and Afghanistan, although it is unclear at present if the two groups are connected. With the success of Syrian forces of late fighting and overrunning rebel positions and with the assistance of Hezbollah in the conflict, it is possible that fighters from the Afghan conflict will find themselves in Syria, especially as the time line for NATO troops withdrawing from the country comes closer. According to the Long War Journal, Brigade 313 is named after the 313 companions who fought with the Prophet Mohammed during the Battle of Badr.
Syria – Various reports that the Pakistani Taliban has sent hundreds of its fighters to Syria are emerging from several open source networks. The organization is said to be operating alongside members of the al-Nusra Front. This latest development will no doubt cause concern for many countries, not least the Americans who at present are attempting to negotiate peace with the Afghan government and the Taliban. In the past it was hoped that the Taliban would distance themselves fro organizations such as al-Qaeda but this latest development proves the opposite. Although the Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are not one of the same, their ideology is similar. As mentioned in the Lebanon report, this could cause many problems for the future and if the groups in the Syrian conflict ever come to peace talks, then this is one complication that countries could do without. But with Sunni groups seeing the conflict as a Holy war between themselves and the Shiites, then it is inevitable that the conflict will attract fighters from both sides.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst