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. Secretary of State criticises Iranian weapons smuggling and President Hadi’s cabinet reshuffle; President Hadi holds first cabinet meeting since reshuffle; Southern Movement holds independence rallies in al Dhaleh, Abyan, and Aden

Horn of Africa: New East African jihadist group pledges loyalty to ISIS; al Shabaab mortar attack kills two civilians in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM convoy in Middle Shabelle region; pro-al Shabaab Twitter accounts announce forthcoming video detailing El Adde base attack

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran can be a part of a “constructive resolution” in Yemen, but only if it stops fueling the conflict by smuggling weapons into the country. Secretary Kerry, during a joint press conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa on April 7, also criticized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s recent cabinet reshuffle for “complicating” the upcoming peace negotiations. UN-led peace talks are set to begin in Kuwait on April 18.[1]
  • President Hadi held his first cabinet meeting since the April 3 cabinet reshuffle, in which he replaced Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah with Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar and Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghr, respectively. Hadi stressed that the reshuffle will eliminate irresponsibility among ministers during the April 7 meeting and added that each official will be monitored and evaluated.  Hadi cited poor performance when he removed Bahah, in a reshuffle that has drawn criticism from factions on both sides of Yemen’s civil war.[2]
  • Supporters of Yemen’s Southern Movement held peaceful rallies in al Dhaleh city and Ahwar, Abyan governorate on April 7 calling for self-determination and independence for southern Yemen. Demonstrations also occurred in Aden, the Hadi government’s de facto capital. Southern Movement leaders plan to escalate the peaceful demonstrations in the coming days and will reportedly stage a large demonstration in Aden on April 17, the day before UN-led peace talks are set to begin in Kuwait.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A new Salafi-jihadist organization, “Jabha East Africa” (East Africa Front), proclaimed its “bayat” or oath of loyalty to the emir of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a statement on an English-language Twitter account. The group condemned al Shabaab and its affiliates as “psychological and physical prisons,” and called for militants in East Africa to leave al Shabaab and to open new fronts in the region. Jabha East Africa members are former al Shabaab members who have returned to their home countries in East Africa. ISIS has not responded to the oath.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants launched a mortar attack on the Somali Presidential Palace on April 7, killing at least two civilians and wounding 13 others. The shells reportedly missed the palace and landed in populated areas nearby. Banadir regional police seized a minibus with a mortar tube and several shells shortly after the attack and arrested its occupants. Police are searching for two more suspects.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy travelling between Mahaday and El Baraf towns in the Middle Shabelle region on April 8. The deputy commissioner of Mahaday town reported that the AMISOM troops repulsed the ambush and killed several al Shabaab fighters.[6]
  • Several pro-al Shabaab Twitter accounts announced a forthcoming video detailing the group’s January 15 attack on the Kenyan AMISOM base at El Adde in the Gedo region of Somalia. The accounts released pictures showing captured Kenyan soldiers held at gunpoint and the wreckage of an armored personnel carrier. Al Shabaab claimed to kill or capture 100 Kenyan soldiers during the complex attack.[7]

[1] “Joint Press Availability with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa,” U.S. Department of State, April 7,2016,  
[2] “President Hadi urges the government to move away from selfishness and personal desires,” Barakish, April 7,2016,; and Nasser Al-Sakkaf, “Hadi faces growing opposition as Yemen peace talks loom,” Middle East Eye, April 8, 2016,
[4] SITE Intelligence Group, Source available upon request.
[5] “At least 2 killed as mortal shells rock Mogadishu,” Hiiraan News, April 8, 2016,; “Mogadushu police recover minibus and shell rounds after the city was shelled,” Goobjoog News, april 8 ,2016,  
[6] “Al shabaab ambushes AMISOM convoy near Mahada,” Shabelle News, April 8, 2016,  
[7]Pro-al Shabaab Twitter accounts, Twitter, April 7-8, 2016, source available upon request.
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