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: ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan detonates second SVEST targeting security forces in Aden city; Secretary of State reviews UN peace proposal with British, Saudi, Emirati, and Omani foreign ministers; U.S. Secretary of State and Saudi Foreign Minister downplay reported changes in U.S. military aid; AQAP claims IED attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb governorate; Hadi government forces retake al Houthi-Saleh anti-aircraft site in Taiz city
Horn of Africa: Amaq News Agency claims ISIS-linked forces killed 11 Somali security forces in Bir Ladhidh area, Bari region; al Shabaab militants clash with Jubbaland security forces and local civilians near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; AMISOM forces kill civilians in Qoryooley and El Waregow village, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militant temporarily seize Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region
Yemen Security Brief
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan claimed a suicide vest (SVEST) attack targeting security forces near al Sawlaban military base in Aden city on December 18. The attack killed at least 50 troops and wounded 60 others as they gathered to collect their salaries. The pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency disseminated pictures of the suicide bomber and pictures of the SVEST attack. ISIS conducted a similar attack on al Sawlaban base on December 10 that killed 50 troops and wounded 70 others.
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman issued a communique in support of a UN framework for negotiations in Yemen. Secretary Kerry and the other foreign ministers met with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen on December 18 to review the framework, originally proposed in October 2016. The communique laid out a seven-step process that includes sequenced disarmaments, appointments for a political transition, and a political dialogue to finalize elections and draft a constitution. The communique emphasized that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi will not transfer his powers until the necessary disarmaments occur. The communique urged President Hadi’s government to engage in negotiations according to the proposed framework and commended the al Houthi-Saleh alliance’s November 16 endorsement of the proposal. The communique urged all belligerents of the civil war to agree to a ceasefire and called on the UN to develop a plan to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into Yemen. The next round of peace negotiations will be held in Amman, Jordan.
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir downplayed recent reports that the U.S. will limit its military support to Saudi Arabia during a December 18 joint press conference. Foreign Minister al Jubeir said that claims the White House blocked the sale of guided munitions kits to Saudi Arabia “contradict logic and reality.” Al Jubeir also stated that Saudi Arabia had not been officially informed of any new decisions regarding weapon sales. Secretary Kerry stated that delays are related to a lengthy procurement process. The White House reportedly blocked the sale of 16,000 guided munitions kits to Saudi Arabia on December 13. Anonymous administration officials cited the high number of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign in Yemen.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Yarim, northeastern Ibb governorate on December 16. An AQAP Telegram post claimed that the IED detonated under a technical, killing six al Houthi-Saleh troops and wounding four others. AQAP last claimed an attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in neighboring al Bayda governorate on December 15.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to retake an anti-aircraft site in northern Taiz city on December 19. Hadi government and popular resistance forces temporarily lost control of the area but mounted a successful counterattack. Al Houthi-Saleh forces held the site until forces loyal to President Hadi seized it on November 22. President Hadi reiterated his call for the liberation of Taiz governorate on December 19.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency claimed that ISIS-linked forces killed 11 Somali security forces in Bir Ladhidh town, Bari region on December 18. Local media sources have not confirmed the attack. ISIS-linked forces held Qandala town in Bari region from October 26 to December 7.
- Al Shabaab militants killed multiple civilians near Kismayo town in Lower Jubba region on December 17 during clashes over Shabaab’s zakat, or religious tax, policies. Jubbaland security forces assisted locals in driving the al Shabaab militants from the area. A spokesman claimed that Jubbaland forces killed 15 al Shabaab militants.
- African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces opened fire on a minibus, killing six civilians, in Qoryooley in Lower Shabelle region on December 17. The AMISOM forces suspected that the minibus was loaded with explosives. AMISOM blamed the incident on al Shabaab mortars. In a separate incident, AMISOM forces retaliated against civilians after suspected al Shabaab forces detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an AMISOM vehicle at El Waregow village near Marka town in Lower Shabelle region on December 18. AMISOM troops destroyed a home with an armored vehicle, killing one adult and four children.
- Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region on December 16. The militants seized the town’s police station and administrative headquarters. The fighting killed at least two Somali security personality. Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM forces recaptured the town on December 17.