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: Militants target Aden security chief with SVBIED attack; pro-Hadi forces claim full control of Lahij governorate; peace talk session canceled due to ongoing disagreements

Horn of Africa: NISA and AMISOM arrest 15 suspected al Shabaab members in Daynile district, Mogadishu; former NISA official claims pro-ISIS militants fleeing to Mogadishu and Kenya; IJA decision to restructure Beled Hawo government sparks tensions

Yemen Security Brief

  • A militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) outside the home of Aden Security Chief Shalal Ali Shaye’a in Aden on April 28. No casualties were reported. The attacker was dressed as a woman and successfully passed several checkpoints before detonating his vehicle at a checkpoint outside Shaye’a’s home. Militants targeted Shaye’a and Aden’s governor Aydarus al Zubaidi in a previous SVBIED attack in January and in another assassination attempt in February.[1]
  • Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed full control of Lahij governorate on April 28, following operations against militants in the governorate’s capital and its environs. Pro-Hadi forces cleared the main road from Aden to Taiz governorate, encountering no resistance from local militants, according to the operations’ commander, Munir al Yafa’i. The Aden-based forces will hand over control of the governorate to local security forces and return to Yemen’s temporary capital to prepare for further operations in Abyan and Shabwah governorates, where AQAP still controls territory. Pro-Hadi forces claimed control of al Hawta, Lahij’s capital, on April 15, and proceeded to conduct clearing operations in and around the city. Forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition also recaptured AQAP’s main stronghold of al Mukalla on April 24 and have made gains against the group in southwestern Abyan governorate.[2]
  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed canceled an evening session of the ongoing peace talks in Kuwait on April 27, due to ongoing disagreements between the negotiating parties. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with the delegations individually earlier in the day to discuss the agenda for the talks and later acknowledged differences between the delegations in an official statement. The al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation and the Hadi government delegation previously agreed to pursue the Kuwait talks agenda in two separate committees, one focused on political and the other on security issues. The al Houthi-GPC delegation has prioritized discussion of a transitional and consensus government, whereas the Hadi government’s delegation seeks the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis and allied forces to withdraw from captured territories and surrender heavy weaponry.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Security and Intelligence Agency (NISA) officers and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops arrested 15 suspected al Shabaab members during a clearing operation in Daynile district, Mogadishu on April 27. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) claimed an improvised explosive device (IED) on an AMISOM vehicle in Daynile on April 24. It is unclear whether the suspects arrested were linked to this incident.[4]
  • Colonel Abdullahi Ali Maow, a former NISA officer, claimed that pro-ISIS militants are attempting to escape al Shabaab crackdowns in the group’s main control zone in Middle Jubba region. Maow said that defectors are currently fleeing towards Mogadishu as well as the Kenyan border in hopes of establishing their own cells outside of al Shabaab’s territory.  He indicated that pro-ISIS militants are not currently a serious concern because of their small numbers but noted that their presence in the capital could further complicate the city’s security situation.[5]
  • The Deputy Interior Minister of the Interim Jubbaland Administration (IJA), Abdirashid Mo’alim, arrived in Beled Hawo in Gedo region on April 28 to discuss restructuring the city’s administration. Local politicians and clan elders protested the minister’s presence in the town. Both the IJA and local militias have assembled troops in anticipation of a clash but fighting has yet to occur. The reason for the restructuring is unknown but may be linked to several al Shabaab attacks that targeted politicians in Beled Hawo earlier this month.[6]

[1] “Suicide bomber targets police chief of Yemen's Aden,” Al Jazeera, April 28, 2016,; and “Details of the suicide explosion targeting the home of Shalal Shaye’a in Aden - video,” Barakish, April 28, 2016,
[2] Saeed Al Batati, “Yemen forces retake Lahj province from Al Qaida,” Gulf News, April 28, 2016,; and “Gulf-backed Yemeni forces seize city from al Qaeda: military source,” Reuters, April 15, 2016,
[3] “Evening session consultation canceled and Ould Cheikh continue to try to persuade the revolutionaries of the agenda,” Al Masdar, April 27, 2016,; and  Arafat Madabish, “Houthis Turn against Kuwaiti Mediation and Knock Over Peace Talks Agenda,” Al Sharq Al Awsat, April 28, 2016,
[4] “Somali security forces arrest 15 Al-Shabaab suspects in capital,” Xinhua News, April 28, 2016,
[5] Harun Maruf, “Al-Shabab Fighters Loyal to Islamic State Complicate Somalia Security,” Voice of America, April 28, 2016,
[6] “Tension rises in Balad Hawo as Jubbaland minister reaches town,” Shabelle News, April 28, 2016,  
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