Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 24, 2016

Yemen: Hostilities intensify after humanitarian ceasefire expires in Yemen; UN Special Envoy reportedly presents peace agreement that includes replacement of president and vice president; reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate; WHO declares state of emergency in Yemen; suspected AQAP militants attack security forces in Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants retake Halgan village, Hiraan region following Ethiopian AMISOM withdrawal; al Shabaab militants attempt SVBIED attack on security convoy in Bondhere district, Mogadishu; clashes between Puntland and Galmudug security forces resume in Galkayo, Mudug region; al Shabaab militants attack SNA barracks in K50 area, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants attack Somali police station in Afmadow, Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

  • All parties resumed hostilities in Yemen following the expiration of the three-day humanitarian ceasefire on October 22, despite a request from UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to extend the ceasefire. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sana’a, al Hudaydah, al Dhaleh, and Taiz governorates on October 23 and 24. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a Qahir-1 ballistic missile towards a Saudi military camp in Najran province, Saudi Arabia on October 23 and clashed with Saudi border forces in Jazan province, Saudi Arabia on October 24.  Saudi-led coalition air defenses intercepted an al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile in Ma’rib governorate on October 24. Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi government and allied forces in Ma’rib and Taiz governorates on October 24. The Army Chief of Staff for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s administration, Mohammed Ali al Maqdashi, accused al Houthi-Saleh forces of “deliberately thwart[ing] the truce.” Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al Asiri accused al Houthi-Saleh forces of almost 1,000 ceasefire infractions along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Leader of al Houthi Ansar Allah party Sayyid Sadiq Abu Shawarib rejected the accusations and claimed that al Houthi-Saleh forces took a “defensive position” against the Saudi-led coalition attacks on October 23.[1]
  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a new comprehensive political and military solution for the Yemen conflict, according to an October 24 report from the Lebanese Hezbollah-aligned al Mayadeen news. The plan calls for the withdrawal of forces along high-conflict fronts in Sana’a, Taiz, al Hudaydah governorates within 30 days of the agreement’s signing. The plan also requires President Hadi to delegate his executive powers to a new consensus vice president, who will be tasked with forming a unity government. Current Vice President Lt. Gen. Ali Mohsen al Ahmar is required to resign within 24 hours after the agreement’s signing. The reported plan emphasizes the need for a referendum on Yemen’s constitution and calls for presidential elections within a year of the agreement. UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with a delegation from the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council (SPC) on October 24 after gunmen surrounded the UN headquarters in Sana’a city and demanded the meeting.[2]
  • Reported U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in Wadi Obeida, Ma’rib governorate on October 21. The airstrike killed Abdullah Hassan Bamatarif and Hussein Alawi al Majoh, two members of the AQAP affiliate Sons of Hadramawt.[3]
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency in Yemen on October 24 and reported 644 cases of cholera in the country. The WHO called on the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population to take measures necessary to stop the spread of the disease. Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Daghir held an emergency meeting with the Council of Ministers to discuss Aden’s electricity and the cholera crisis in Aden on October 24. The Council of Ministers announced the formation of a health committee to intensify cholera prevention efforts in Aden.[4]
  • Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Hizam security forces with small arms fire in Mahala village, Lahij governorate on October 21. The militants escaped on a motorcycle after the attack. The Hizam brigades are Emirati-backed militias that combat AQAP in southern Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces withdrew from Halgan village in Hiraan region on October 22. Al Shabaab forces occupied the area on October 23 and announced the group’s return to local civilians. Ethiopian AMISOM forces have vacated a number of towns in Somalia since late September. Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on October 8 in an attempt to quell spreading protests by the plurality Oromo people that began last year. The minority Tigray population continues to oppress the Oromo.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on a security force convoy in the Bondhere district of Mogadishu on October 23. The security forces opened fire on the vehicle, causing the bomb to detonate prematurely. The blast killed the attacker and two civilians.[7]
  • Clashes between Puntland and Galmudug security forces killed five individuals in Galkayo town in Mudug region on October 24. This most recent fighting broke out over a September 28 U.S. airstrike that killed 14 Galmudug security personnel. Galmudug officials claim Puntland intelligence officers provided the faulty intelligence for the strike. Humanitarian organizations estimate that the three weeks of fighting has displaced up to 75,000 local civilians. Galmudug and Puntland administrations have historically clashed over territory in northern Mudug region.[8]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) barracks in the K50 area of Lower Shabelle region on October 22. AMISOM forces aided SNA forces in the ensuing gunfight. The fighting killed at least four individuals. Al Shabaab launched a series of offensive operations in Lower Shabelle region this past week.[9]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a police station in Afmadow town in Lower Jubba region on October 22. Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) came to the aid of the Somali police officers. Al Shabaab killed at least three policemen in the attack.[10]
 
[1] “Fighting rages in Yemen as U.N. seeks to extend 72-hour ceasefire,” October 22, 2016, Reuters, October 23, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-idUSKCN12M0BZ; and “Houthi leader: We are in a defensive posture and not attack and we want peace, we will accept Hadi president if elected president Southerners,” October 24, 2016, http://adengd.net/news/226525/#ixzz4O0bjAdjo;  “Saudi-led airstrikes recommence as Yemen ceasefire ends,” ABC Australia, October 23, 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-24/saudi-planes-attack-as-yemen-ceasefire-ends/7959028; “Coalition destroys Houthi ballistic missile in Yemen,” October 24, 2016, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/10/24/Coalition-destroys-Houthi-ballistic-missile.html; “Coalition Warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Atharib, al Dala’a,” al Masirah, October 24, 2016, http://almasdaronline.com/article/85706; “Harbi media distributed scenes of missile launch of , "Qahir-1" on the Saudi National Guard Camp,” al Masirah, October 23, 2016, http://almasirah.net/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B9-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88-3/; “Yemeni ballistic missile launch to a #Saudi site in #Najran,” YouTube, October 24, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60pz5RFFsOg; “Katyusha rockets fired at Saudi coalition gathering in Kovel,” al Masirah, October 24, 2016, http://almasirah.net/%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%AD%D9%89-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D9%81%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%B2%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%B5%D9%81-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AE/; “al Houthi-Saleh targeting gatherings in southern taiz,” al Masirah, October 24, 2016, http://almasirah.net/%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%AA-3/; and “al Houthi-Saleh clash with Saudi-led Coalition in north,” al Masirah, October 24, 2016, http://almasirah.net/%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%83-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4/
[2] “UN envoy to meet with the delegation negotiating the coup after gunmen gathered around his residence in Sanaa,” al Masdar, October 24, 2016, http://almasdaronline.com/article/85713;  
[3] “U.S. drone strike al Qaeda car in Ma’rib,” October 21, 2016, http://barakish.net/news02.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=451665.
[4] “State of Emergency Announced in Yemen to Fight Cholera,” Asharq al Awsat, October 24, 2016, http://english.aawsat.com/2016/10/article55360759/state-emergency-announced-yemen-fight-cholera; and “Council of Ministers meeting held in Aden, headed by Maj. Gen. Hussein Arab,” Aden Tomorrow, October 24, 2016, http://adengd.net/news/226550/#ixzz4O1ASrLvM.
[5] “Gunmen kill a member of the security belt Lahj,” Aden Tomorrow, October 21, 2016, http://adenghd.net/news/226107/#ixzz4O0IvOP9S; Demolinari, Twitter, October 21, 2016, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/789447949134594049
[6] “Al shabaab recaptures town after allied troops pull out,” Shabelle News, October 23, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/somalia-al-shabaab-recapture-town-after-troops-pull-out/; and “Ethiopian forces pull out costs Amisom Halgan village in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, October 23, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/ethiopian-force-pull-costs-amisom-halgan-village-central-somalia/
[7] “Three killed, 2 wounded in Mogadishu car bomb blast,” Shabelle News, October 24, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/three-killed-2-wounded-in-mogadishu-car-bomb-blast/; and “Suicide car bomb kills two people in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, October 24, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/suicide-car-bomb-kills-two-people-mogadishu/.
[8] “Galkaayo fighting claims another five lives, PM calls for truce,” Goobjoog News, October 24, 2016,  http://goobjoog.com/english/galkaayo-fighting-claims-another-five-lives-pm-calls-truce/; “Fresh fighting in Galkaayo as calls for peace hit a dead end,” Goobjoog News, October 22, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/fresh-fighting-galkaayo-calls-peace-hit-dead-end/; and “Humanitarian impact of fighting in Gaalkacyo,” Shabelle News, October 24, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/humanitarian-impact-of-fighting-in-gaalkacyo/
[9] “4 killed in a heavy fighting in Lower Shabelle region,” Shabelle News, October 22, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/four-killed-in-a-heavy-fighting-in-lower-shabelle-region/; “Al Shabaab attacks Somali military base in Km-50 area,” Shabelle News, October 22, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/al-shabaab-attacks-somali-military-base-in-km-50-area/.
[10] “Al Shabaab raids Afmadow police station, 3 killed,” Shabelle News, October 23, 2016, http://www.shabellenews.com/2016/10/al-shabaab-raids-jubbaland-troops-in-afmadow-3-killed/