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: U.S. considers UAE request for assistance against AQAP in Yemen; coalition-backed forces recapture al Hawta, Lahij governorate from AQAP; ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan detonates VBIED in Aden; Hadi government and al Houthi officials condemn alleged ceasefire violations but remain committed to negotiations
Horn of Africa: Kenyan intelligence service claims al Shabaab is recruiting in Rift Valley province, western Kenya; suspected al Shabaab militants attempt to assassinate Somali Federal MP in Beled-Hawo, Gedo region; ASWJ claims that Somali Federal Government funded rival clan in Adado airport clash
Yemen Security Brief
- The U.S. is considering a request for military support from the United Arab Emirates for a planned offensive against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, according to Reuters. The UAE’s request includes medical evacuation and search and rescue assistance, and may also include direct military assistance. The UAE is a central member of the Saudi-led coalition and has been a vocal proponent of increased counterterrorism operations in Yemen, large swathes of which are currently controlled by AQAP. The Saudi-led coalition recently expanded its air campaign to target AQAP, and sources from Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s coalition-backed government have announced plans to clear AQAP strongholds in the near future.
- Yemeni forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition claimed to clear AQAP militants from al Hawta, the capital of Lahij governorate, on April 15. Forces loyal to President Hadi, with air support from the coalition, clashed with militants on April 15 and reportedly captured 48 militants. Al Hawta, located roughly 30 kilometers from the Hadi government’s temporary capital of Aden, is AQAP’s first major territorial loss at the hands of coalition-backed forces. Coalition-backed forces cleared militants from parts of Aden in mid-March.
- Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting a foreign ministry office in the Raymi area of al Mansoura district, Aden on April 15, injuring several bystanders. ISIS claimed the attack shortly afterward. An ISIS militant also detonated a suicide vest at a soccer stadium in Aden on April 12.
- Hadi government and al Houthi officials denounced alleged ceasefire violations but remain committed to negotiations. President Hadi’s Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi accused al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh of exploiting the ceasefire to make territorial gains, in an April 15 statement to Al Quds Al Arabi. The al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee also denounced alleged violations of the ceasefire in an April 14 statement. President Hadi and al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Ali al Emad both indicated they remain open to negotiations, however. Al Emad declared that the al Houthis reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to end the war, which he claims will be announced at the April 18 talks in Kuwait. Al Houthi statements emphasized the role of direct al Houthi-Saudi negotiations, casting the UN-brokered peace process as a distraction.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The Kenyan National Intelligence Service (NIS) claimed that al Shabaab may be actively recruiting young and marginalized people in the Rift Valley province in western Kenya. The militant group traditionally operates in the North Eastern and Coast provinces but has moved its recruitment network further inland to increase the number of Kenyan nationals in its ranks, according to the NIS report. Al Shabaab’s Aminyat or intelligence wing is suspected to be spearheading the recruitment efforts.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate a Somali member of parliament (MP) in Beled-Hawo in Gedo region on April 14. The Beled-Hawo District Commissioner said that two assailants threw hand grenades into the target’s house and injured four others but did not harm the MP. This is the second targeted attack on a Beled-Hawo official in three days. Suspected al Shabaab members attempted to assassinate the District Commissioner with a car bomb on April 13.
- Abdullahi Hersi Dirshe, the vice president of Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama’a (ASWJ) a Sufi paramilitary group that operates in Somalia’s Galgudud region, claimed that the Somali Federal Government (SFG) provided weapons and ammunition to one of the clans that participated in skirmishes at the Adado airport on April 13. Dirshe insinuated that the SFG was instigating the clan violence and should be held responsible for the casualties of the incident. The SFG did not respond to the accusation.