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: Ceasefire monitoring teams arrive in Hajjah, Ma’rib, and Taiz governorates; al Houthi spokesman expressed optimism for ceasefire in interview with Saudi paper; al Houthi-Saleh forces kill pro-Hadi general in clashes in Nihm, Sana’a governorate; possible VBIED kills one and wounds two in Sayun, Hadramawt governorate
Horn of Africa: Pentagon confirms two UAV strikes against al Shabaab in Lower Jubba region; suspected al Shabaab militants target Beled Hawo District Commissioner with car bomb; suspected al Shabaab militants throw grenades into marketplace in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region
Yemen Security Brief
- Ceasefire monitoring committees arrived in three Yemeni governorates on April 13 to report on and enforce the UN-sponsored ceasefire, which began on April 10. The 12-member teams comprise representatives from the government of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the al Houthis, and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress party. The local committees will monitor the status of the ceasefire in Hajjah governorate, Ma’rib governorate, and southwestern Taiz governorate, and report on violations to a joint ceasefire monitoring committee at the national level. Three additional committees are expected to arrive in Shabwah, al Bayda, and al Dhaleh governorates. The nationwide ceasefire has held for nearly three days, despite reports of violence on several fronts.
- Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam gave an exclusive interview to Saudi newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat, published on April 13. Abdul Salam expressed optimism with respect to the UN-sponsored ceasefire and confirmed earlier reports of high-level talks between al Houthi and Hadi government officials in Dhahran al Janub, Saudi Arabia, explaining that the talks aimed to establish a permanent ceasefire. He emphasized the importance of political consensus and partnership, and warned of local warlords who he claimed seek to spoil the peace process. Abdul Salam also indicated the al Houthis’ intention to resolve the status of high-level Hadi government prisoners, including former Minister of Defense Major General Mahmoud al Subaihi.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed pro-Hadi Brigadier General Zayd al Huri during clashes in Nihm district, northwest of the capital Sana’a on April 13. Al Huri was head of the 314th Brigade. Both sides accused the other of initiating violence in Nihm, which has persisted intermittently since the beginning of the ceasefire the night of April 10.
- Militants detonated a possible vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near an oil company office in Sayun, Hadramawt, killing one and injuring two others. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Both al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) operate in Sayun in the eastern region of Wadi Hadramawt.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis confirmed that U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) conducted two separate airstrikes against al Shabaab fighters on April 11 and 12 near Yontoy in Lower Jubba region, Somalia. Davis said that the strikes, which killed 12 militants, were carried out in “self-defense” and in response to an “imminent threat” to nearby U.S. and allied personal. U.S. airstrikes, in the past two months, have targeted an al Shabaab intelligence official and a large group of militants who were allegedly staging an attack on a base where U.S. personnel may have been present. These strikes signal an increase in U.S. support for allied partners on the ground and an emphasis on targeting al Shabaab’s operational capabilities in southern Somalia.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb in an attempt to assassinate the District Commissioner of Beled Hawo in Gedo region on April 12. The District Commissioner survived the attempt but the explosion wounded three of his bodyguards. Somali National Army (SNA) troops and local police arrested five suspects shortly after the incident.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants threw several grenades into a busy market in Afgoi town, Lower Shabelle region on April 13, killing at least three civilians and wounding seven. Residents said that two masked men appeared and threw the grenades at soldiers shopping in the market before disappearing. Al Shabaab has been active in Afgoi over the past month but did not claim responsibility for this attack.