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: Delegations agree on agenda for Kuwait talks; AQAP militants arrive in Zinjibar, Abyan from al Mukalla, Hadramawt; Hadi government officials begin rebuilding security institutions in al Mukalla; coalition airstrikes target militants west of al Hawta, Lahij
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants occupy Janale, Lower Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants attack house of Somali parliamentarian; three European jihadists surrender to SNA and AMISOM troops outside Janale; Kenya to proceed with construction of Somali-Kenyan border wall
Yemen Security Brief
- Delegates from Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, the al Houthis, and the General People’s Congress party (GPC) agreed on an agenda for the ongoing talks in Kuwait on April 26, amid mounting pressure from the international community. The delegations will work in two committees focusing on political and security issues, respectively. Disagreements over the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire and the priority of political agenda items have delayed substantive discussion since talks began on April 21. The Hadi government’s delegation is eager to discuss the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis and their allies to withdraw from captured territories and surrender heavy weaponry. The al Houthi and GPC delegation, meanwhile, has prioritized discussion of a transitional government. Talks are expected to continue according to the new agenda.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants arrived in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate on April 27, after fleeing the coalition-led recapture of their stronghold in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on April 23. AQAP militants repelled a Hadi government offensive into Abyan on April 24 with a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive (SVBIED) attack, but government forces will likely launch another offensive with Saudi-led coalition air support.
- Hadi government officials, backed by coalition and allied forces, began rebuilding the government’s presence in al Mukalla, with a focus on local security. Hadramawt Governor and Head of National Security Ahmed bin Brik arrived in al Mukalla on April 26. The governorate’s security chief Mohammed Saeed al Jariri announced on April 27 that he is cooperating with Emirati forces to rebuild local security institutions “from scratch,” according to Emirati sources. Coalition-backed security forces have uncovered several arms stores within the city and have recovered heavy weaponry in military camps around al Mukalla.
- The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes on militant targets in two villages to the west of al Hawta, the capital of Lahij governorate, on April 27. The militants’ affiliation remains unconfirmed. AQAP controlled al Hawta from late January until coalition-backed forces retook the city earlier this month.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab briefly seized control of Janale town in Lower Shabelle region, Somalia on April 27. Residents reported that African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) troops withdrew from the town for an unknown reason, allowing the militants to enter without resistance. The militants preached to residents and urged them to join al Shabaab’s jihad before leaving the town.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked the home of a Somali parliamentarian using grenades and small arms in the Hodan district of Mogadishu on April 26 in a likely assassination attempt. The gunmen injured four security personnel outside the house but fled on motorbikes when additional guards repulsed their attack.
- Three foreign al Shabaab fighters surrendered to SNA and AMISOM forces outside Janale in Lower Shabelle region on April 27. Two militants were British nationals and the third was Dutch. The men reportedly favored the pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) factions of al Shabaab and may have fled al Shabaab’s crackdowns on pro-ISIS members.
- Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery announced that his country will begin construction of a 700 km border fence along Kenya’s northeastern border with Somalia to stem the flow of al Shabaab militants between the countries. The wall will consist of a concrete barrier, barbed wire, and trenches monitored by electronic surveillance and manned observation posts. Nkaissery said that immigration and other legal movement between the two countries will not be affected. Kenya has been attempting to build the border wall since April 2015 but only recently secured the cooperation of Marehan clan elders who strongly opposed its construction.