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: UN Special Envoy reports to Security Council on possibility of peace talks; militants attack a checkpoint in Wadi Hadramawt; gunmen kill local official in al Hawta, Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: KDF airstrike reportedly kills top al Shabaab intelligence official in Lower Jubba region, Somalia; AMISOM and SNA troops arrest two al Shabaab cell leaders in Dinsor, Bay region, Somalia; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM convoy near Mararey, Middle Shabelle, Somalia; car bomb attack on Jubbaland minister foiled

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the Security Council on February 17 that he could not call a new round of peace talks due to fundamental disagreements among Yemen’s warring parties. Ould Cheikh Ahmed stated he could not guarantee that both sides would respect a ceasefire, which the al Houthis have made a precondition for future talks. He expressed his view that talks should not be delayed beyond March. A temporary ceasefire collapsed shortly after the beginning of the most recent round of talks in December 2015, and talks originally scheduled for January 14 have been indefinitely postponed.[1]
  • Militants clashed with Yemeni military personnel at a checkpoint west of Shibam in Wadi Hadramawt on February 18. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, operate in many parts of Wadi Hadramawt, as does the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Hadramawt. Both groups have previously targeted Yemeni military positions in the area.[2]
  • Gunmen killed the director of the governor’s office for Lahij governorate in his home in al Hawta, Lahij governorate on February 17. Abdul Fatah al Mihrami was entertaining guests when the gunmen entered and opened fire, killing him and one other. It is possible, but not confirmed, that the attackers are affiliated with AQAP, which took control of parts of al Hawta on January 25. Coalition airstrikes reportedly targeted AQAP positions in al Hawta and nearby al Waht on February 15 and 16 in an apparent effort to combat a growing militant presence throughout southern Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan officials claimed that a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) airstrike killed a top al Shabaab intelligence official, identified as Mohammed Karatey, on February 8 in Somalia’s Middle Jubba region.  The strike reportedly killed Karatey, along with ten mid-level commanders and around 40 recruits during a graduation ceremony at an al Shabaab camp located between the towns of Buale and Sukow.  Karatey, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, was wanted for his role in several significant al Shabaab attacks, including the January 15 raid on Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops at El Adde and the massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University in April 2015.  Pro-al Shabaab media denied the KDF’s claim.[4] 
  • AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) troops captured the leaders of two al Shabaab cells during a raid on Dinsor town in Somalia’s Bay region on February 16.  The SNA and AMISOM forces arrested the men after discovering weapons in their home during a security sweep, which Somali officials described as preparation for a larger operation in the area.[5] 
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM convoy near Mararey in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on February 18, destroying at least one vehicle.  AMISOM claims that the convoy, which was travelling to the city of Barawe, did not suffer any damage and that the damaged vehicle belonged to a civilian.  This incident comes less than 24 hours after an al Shabaab military spokesperson, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, announced that the group will launch more frequent attacks against AMISOM and SNA troops in an effort to “immobilize” the enemy.[6] 
  • An unknown group attempted to assassinate the Jubbaland Regional Minister of Social Affairs, Maalin Mohammed Ibrahim, with a car bomb on February 18.  The bomb was discovered after one of Ibrahim’s family members overheard a conversation between a staff member and an unknown accomplice about the planned assassination.  Ibrahim was set to meet with Interim Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Madobe at the time of the foiled attack, after which several of his staff members were arrested, including five bodyguards.[7] 
[1] Michelle Nichols, “U.N. Yemen envoy says divisions over truce preventing peace talks,” Reuters, February 17, 2016,
[2] “Al Qaeda attacks checkpoint west of Shibam city in Wadi Hadramawt,” Barakish, February 18, 2016,
[3] “Gunmen execute the director of the Lahij governor’s office inside his home,” Barakish, February 17, 2016,
[4] “Kenya 'kills' al-Shabab intelligence chief in Somalia,” BBC News, February 18, 2016,
Kenyan Interior Ministry via Twitter, February 18, 2016,
Saleban Sahal via Twitter, February 18, 2016,
[5] “Somali government arrests two al Shabaab ring leaders in Diinsoor town,” Goobjoog News, February 17, 2016,
[6] “Al shabaab ambushes SNA and AU troops’ convoy in Somalia,” Shabelle News, February 18, 2016,
“Al Shabab vows ‘intensified attacks’ on military bases in Somalia,” Hiiraan News, February 18, 2016,
[7] “Jubbaland minister escapes bomb attack, staff allegedly planted bomb on his car,” Goobjoog News, February 17, 2016,  
View Citations
Arrow down red
Mar '16
Feb '16
Jan '16