Reports that the U.S. is considering establishing forward bases to counter ISIS’s affiliates in Libya and Afghanistan reflect the increasing regional capability and momentum of the group in the Near Abroad. ISIS will likely gain new support in Afghanistan and possibly globally due to the death of the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar. ISIS is also expanding operations in Yemen, Libya and Egypt, which may provoke direct conflict between ISIS and al Qaeda. ISIS will likely intensify regional operations, possibly within Turkey, as it faces pressure within Syria and Iraq from Turkey and other anti-ISIS forces. ISIS will also likely attempt to open other border crossings between ISIS’s interior and Near Abroad positions.
1.) July 1: ISIS’s Wilayat Sinai (Egypt) executed a complex, coordinated ground offensive on over fifteen Egyptian military locations in North Sinai.
2.) July 10: Drone strike kills leader of ISIS’s Wilayat Khorasan (Afghanistan-Pakistan).
3.) July 11: ISIS-linked group claimed a VBIED attack on Cairo‘s Italian consulate.
4.) July 13: Reports emerged that the U.S seeks a North African base to launch drone surveillance flights against ISIS in Libya.
5.) July 15-16: ISIS’s Wilayat Sinai (Egypt) launched attacks on Egyptian mainland near the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.
6.) July 16: ISIS’s Wilayat Najd (Saudi Arabia) launched a SVEST targeting a high security prison.
7.) July 16: ISIS demoted an Iraqi leader in Libya, indicating strong ties between ISIS’s leadership and Libyan affiliates.
8.) July 16: Kyrgiz security forces foiled two alleged ISIS-linked attacks targeting Kyrgizstan‘s capital and a nearby Russian airbase.
9.) July 20-23: Suspected ISIS member detonated a SVEST in southern Turkey. Turkey launched airstrikes on Syria, clashed with ISIS in Syria, and allowed the U.S .-led coalition use of strategic airbases.
10.) July 28: ISIS’s Wilayat Aden claimed it is providing healthcare in Yemen.
11.) July 31: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Harleen Gambhir, Jenna Gowell and Yasmin Faruki are contributors to the Institute for the Study of War.