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: President Hadi replaces Khaled Bahah with Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir as Prime Minister and Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar as Vice President; reported coalition airstrikes target AQAP near al Mukalla, Hadramawt; coalition airstrikes resume across northern Sa’ada governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces capture al Wazi’iyah district, Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. airstrike kills senior al Shabaab intelligence official near Jilib, Middle Jubba region; al Shabaab militants execute Tanzanian jihadist for espionage in Jilib, Middle Jubba region; suspected al Shabaab gunmen ambush taxation official in Bardhere, Gedo region; al Shabaab gunmen assassinate several NISA officers in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi dismissed Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled Bahah on April 3, naming Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir as Prime Minister and Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar as Vice President. President Hadi cited economic, public service, and security failures as reasons for the cabinet reshuffle. Bahah, who will now serve as a presidential advisor, accepted the dismissal. Some opponents of the Hadi government in the capital Sana’a reportedly viewed the reshuffle as a threat to the peace process. The General People’s Congress (GPC) party, led by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, formally removed Hadi and Bin Daghir from the party’s membership. Hadi and Bahah reportedly disagreed on both strategy and tactics in confronting the al Houthis and allied forces loyal to former president Saleh. The reshuffle occurred before a nationwide ceasefire scheduled for April 10 and UN-sponsored peace talks scheduled for April 18 in Kuwait.[1]
  • Reported Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) positions near al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate on April 3. Both the U.S. and the coalition have intensified their air campaigns on AQAP and other militants in southern and eastern Yemen in recent weeks.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition resumed its airstrike campaign on the al Houthi stronghold of Sa’ada governorate on April 4, breaking a fragile month-long unofficial ceasefire on the Yemeni-Saudi border. The strikes targeted the districts of Saqayn, Haydan, and Sahar, as well as Kitaf district in neighboring al Jawf governorate. Violence along the Yemeni-Saudi border has increased over the past week, with fighting in northeastern Hajjah governorate and cross-border attacks by al Houthi-Saleh forces.[3]
  • Al Houthi forces and allied forces loyal to former president Saleh seized control of the center of Al Wazi’iyah district in southwestern Taiz governorate on April 1. Pro-Hadi and allied forces announced a tactical retreat from the area after several days of intense clashes. Al Houthi-Saleh forces meanwhile reinforced positions in nearby Kirsh, while both sides continue to clash in the area of al Dhabab in southwestern Taiz city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook announced that a U.S. drone strike killed senior al Shabaab intelligence official Hassan Ali Dhore at a location 20 km south of Jilib in the Middle Jubba region of southern Somalia on April 1.  Dhore held a position in al Shabaab’s Aminyat or intelligence wing, which is responsible for targeted assassinations and intelligence gathering. Cook said that Dhore was involved in several successful plots against Somali government officials and foreign entities in Mogadishu. The operation that killed Dhore is the second U.S. airstrike against al Shabaab in the past month.  U.S. airstrikes killed at least 100 al Shabaab militants at a training camp near Raso, Hiraan region 06 MAR.[5]
  • Al Shabaab reportedly executed a Tanzanian jihadist for espionage in Jilib town in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia on April 2. An al Shabaab leader identified as Ahmad Surad presided over the execution. It is unclear for whom the fighter was accused of spying or if the execution was related to the April 1 airstrike that occurred close to Jilib town.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants ambushed and killed a taxation official outside a mosque in Bardhere in Gedo region, southern Somalia on April 2. The gunmen approached the victim and opened fire with several machine guns before fleeing the scene. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but al Shabaab frequently targets government officials.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants killed several Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officials in Mogadishu on April 2 and 3. Gunmen in a minibus blocked the path of a NISA vehicle travelling through Hamarweyne district and opened fire, killing one official, on April 2.. Militants killed two more NISA officers in a separate attack near the Hawo Tako neighborhood in Hamarweyne district on April 3. Al Shabaab’s recently intensified campaign against NISA officials may be intended to discourage further operations against its cells in and around Mogadishu.[8]
[1] “Publication of presidential order appointing Doctor Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir head of the cabinet,” Saba News, April 3, 2016,; “Publication of presidential decree appointing Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar vice president,” Saba News, April 3, 2016,; “Yemen president Hadi dismisses PM Bahah over 'failures,'” Middle East Eye, April 3, 2016,; “Yemeni PM sacked in major shake-up of senior officials,” Al Jazeera, April 3, 2016,; Khaled Bahah, Twitter, April 3, 2016,; Mohammed Basha, Twitter, April 3, 2016,; Mohammed Basha, Twitter, April 4, 2016,; and “Names of leaders dismissed from the Congress for their support for the aggression on Yemen,” Al Motamar, April 4, 2016,
[2] “Air raids hit al-Qaeda Yemen camp,” Australian Associated Press, April 3, 2016,
[3] “Strikes on Sa’ada the most violent and the first since the agreement of the calm on the border,” Barakish, April 4, 2016,
[4] “Taiz .. After the fall of al Wazi’iyah, major gains in control of al Misrakh. And al Houthi reinforcements to al Dimnah. ‘Details,’” Barakish, April 2, 2016,; “For the fourth day .. al Wazi’iyah in Taiz witnesses violent clashes between the resistance and the al Houthis,” Al Masdar, April 1, 2016,  
[5] Spencer Ackerman, “US drone strike kills key al-Shabaab leader in Somalia,” The Guardian, April 1, 2016,; Peter Cook, “Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Airstrike in Somalia,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 1, 2016,
[6] Abdulkadir Khalif, “Al Shabaab executes a Tanzanian jihadist in Southern Somalia,” Africa Review, April 3, 2016,  
[7] “Govt official Gunned down in Bardere,” Shabelle News, April 3, 2016,
[8] “NISA officer among two killed in Mogadishu drive-by-shooting,”Shabelle News, April 2,2016,; “Somali official killed in Mogadishu drive-by shooting,” Xinhua News, April 3, 2016,  
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