Gulf of Aden Security Review
A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.
Yemen: Coalition-backed forces block al Houthi-Saleh advance in western Taiz governorate while fighting continues in southwest Taiz city; coalition airstrikes target AQAP in Lahij governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell Saudi border region amid fighting in northern Hajjah governorate; UN envoy praises March 26 prisoner exchange
Horn of Africa: Blast kills two people in mosque in Beledweyne, Hiiaan region; SNA and AMISOM offensive to liberate Janale imminent; former Mogadishu mayor claims city is no longer safe
Yemen Security Brief
- Forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition blocked an attempted advance by al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in al Wazi'iyah district in western Taiz governorate on March 31. Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and local allied forces continue to clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Dhabab and al Saleh Gardens in southwestern Taiz city, following an al Houthi-Saleh offensive to retake areas captured by coalition-backed forces on March 11. Ongoing fighting in western Taiz city has restricted access to the city, which previously suffered a months-long siege.
- Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) positions near al Anad airbase in southern Lahij governorate on April 1. The coalition expanded its air campaign in Yemen to include strikes targeting AQAP in February. Pro- Hadi forces and local allied militia raided militant positions near al Anad in al Zaydah, Lahij on March 14.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired on al Tuwal in Jazan province, Saudi Arabia on March 31, injuring one civilian. Pro-Hadi and allied forces continue to clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Hajjah governorate in Yemen. Pro-Hadi and allied forces launched an operation to retake areas of northern and coastal Hajjah on March 26. Both offensives disrupt a nearly month-long unofficial ceasefire along the Saudi-Yemeni border, supported by direct talks between al Houthi and Saudi officials.
- UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed praised a recent prisoner exchange between Saudi Arabia and the al Houthis and called for constructive engagement among Yemen’s warring factions, in a statement on April. Saudi Arabia exchanged 109 al Houthi prisoners for nine Saudi prisoners on March 26. Saudi and al Houthi officials engaged in direct talks in early March to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and prisoner exchanges.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- An explosion killed two civilians and injured 15 others during evening prayers in a mosque in Beledweyne in Hiraan region on March 31. A member of the mosque likely dropped a grenade, causing the blast. Inter-clan tensions in Beledweyne increased last week after an elder was assassinated during talks regarding the formation of a Federal Member State between Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions. It is possible that the mosque blast was related to these tensions.
- Somali National Army (SNA) and Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops will soon attempt to clear al Shabaab militants from Janale town in Lower Shabelle region, southeastern Somalia, according to a Somali government official. SNA and AMISOM forces have skirmished with al Shabaab fighters around the town in the past week but have yet to coordinate an offensive. The militant group has controlled Janale since it seized the town from the Ugandan AMISOM contingent in September 2015.
- Mohamud Ahmed Noor Tarsan, Mogadishu’s former mayor, blamed the deterioration of security in the capital on the Somali Federal Government’s (SFG) lack of response to assassinations in and around the capital. Al Shabaab is likely behind the string of assassination attempts in Mogadishu that has killed or wounded at least seven foreign or government officials in the past week.
 “Developments in Taiz … the resistance advances toward al Dhabab and violent battles in al Wazi’iyah,” Barakish, March 31, 2016, http://barakish.net/news02.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=395105.
 “Coalition launches strikes on al Qaeda near al Anad base in Lahij,” Barakish, April 1, 2016, http://barakish.net/news02.aspx?cat=-10&sub=-2147483648&id=395110; and “Spokesman: Army forces foil al Qaeda’s attempt to attack al Anad base in Lahij,” Al Masdar, March 14, 2016, http://almasdaronline.com/article/80372.
”Wounding of Saudi citizen after the falling of military artillery on al Tuwal,” Yemen 24, April 1, 2016, http://www.yemen-24.com/news25817.html; and “Yemen rebels in deadly counterattack on Red Sea coast,” Agence France Presse, March 31, 2016, http://news.yahoo.com/yemen-rebels-deadly-counterattack-red-sea-coast-075116154.html.
 Louis Charbonneau, “U.N. hopes parties to Yemen peace talks will engage constructively,” Reuters, April 1, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-un-idUSKCN0WY56L.
 “Two killed, 15 injured in central Somalia mosque blast,” Reuters, March 31, 2016, http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-somalia-attacks-idUKKCN0WX2QI; “Somalia mosque bombing kills two, injures fifteen,” Shabelle News, April 1, 2016, http://shabellenews.com/?p=28559.
 “SNA and AU forces intensify attack on al Shabaab,” Goobjoog News, April 1, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/?p=27208.
 “Security in Mogadishu is deteriorating, Former Mogadishu mayor says,” Goobjoog News, April 1, 2016, http://goobjoog.com/english/?p=27200.