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: AQAP’s Ansar al Sharia announces detainment of official for spreading Houthi thought; al Houthi media claims successful attacks on coalition positions; pro-Hadi forces intercept fuel tankers bound from al Mukalla to al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jawf; pro-Hadi forces detain high-level officials in Aden in connection on corruption allegations; Deputy Supreme Commander Ali Mohsen meets with GCC head and U.S. ambassador
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and SNA forces retake villages from al Shabaab near Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region; al Muhajiroun in East Africa releases new edition of Swahili-language propaganda magazine; five Kenyan miners sentenced to 10 years in prison for support of al Shabaab; in-fighting between SNA and Somali Police Forces in Baidoa kills three people
Yemen Security Brief
- Ansar al Sharia announced on February 23 that it detained the general supervisor of Hadramawt’s Hajr district for spreading “al Houthi thought.” The group arrested Omar Ba’alawi in al Mukalla, Hadramawt’s capital and Yemen’s third-largest port, on February 22. Ansar al Sharia published the announcement through “Ansar al Sharia News” on Telegram and Twitter, an outlet it uses to publicize anti-al Houthi operations.
- Al Houthi media claimed successful attacks on coalition forces on several fronts. An al Houthi missile targeted a coalition warship near Khokha on the coast of al Hudaydah governorate on February 23. Meanwhile, at least one Saudi border guard died in al Houthi attacks on Saudi positions in Jazan province, Saudi Arabia on February 23. An al Houthi Qahir-I missile reportedly struck a coalition position in the Bir al Mazariq area of al Jawf governorate on February 24, following a similar strike in al Jawf on February 21.
- Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi intercepted fuel tankers bound for al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jawf governorate on February 23, according to al Jawf’s governor. The tankers reportedly originated at the port of al Mukalla in Hadramawt. The Saudi-led coalition dispatched naval vessels and aircraft to al Mukalla on January 19, in an apparent crackdown on smuggling. The extent of the coalition’s current activities in al Mukalla is unclear.
- Pro-Hadi military forces detained two high-level officials at Ma’ashiq Palace in Aden on February 21 on allegations of corruption and the general security situation in Aden. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Hussein Arab and Fourth Military Division Commander General Ahmad Saif al Yafa’i met with the Director of the Office of the President Muhammad Marim regarding an alleged corruption scheme involving the siphoning of 80 million Yemeni riyals (372,000 USD) to fictitious military camps. The officials also discussed security in Aden and the execution of plans to secure Yemen’s temporary capital. Arab and al Yafa’i were released on February 22.
- Deputy Supreme Commander of Yemen’s Armed Forces General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, a key powerbroker in northern Yemen, held meetings with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the British ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh on February 24. He discussed a range of issues, including humanitarian concerns, with GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani, while discussing primarily military and security matters with British Ambassador to Yemen Edmund Fitton-Brown. President Hadi appointed Ali Mohsen al Ahmar as Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces on February 22.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops seized control of two villages near Mahaday in Middle Shabelle region on February 24. Residents of el Baraf and Adaley villages claim that al Shabaab militants vacated the areas shortly before the government forces entered the town. A Somali Federal Government source supported this report saying that this operation was part of a larger effort to clear the region of al Shabaab militants, who have controlled Mahaday town and the surrounding villages for the past seven years.
- A female jihadist, operating under the name “Umm Shanshi” and affiliated with the pro-al Qaeda and -al Shabaab group al Muhajiroun in East Africa released the third edition of a Swahili-language e-magazine,“Al Ghurabaa,” via Twitter on February 24. Umm Shanshi, who claims the document was published in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, praises al Shabaab for its recent successes in Somalia and highlights the importance of the Amniyat or intelligence division of the group. She also extolled the importance of being a good Muslim wife and discussed the role of women in Islamic society.
- A Kenyan court sentenced five miners from Mandera County in northeastern Kenya to 10 years in prison for attempting to join al Shabaab in Somalia. The suspects were arrested on November 11, 2015 in Beled Hawo town in Gedo region and moved to Kenya’s Mandera County, where they were subsequently charged with illegal border crossing in Kenya. A sixth suspect who fled from Kenya after being let free on a $985 personal bond remains at large.
- SNA troops and local police exchanged fire in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, on February 24 in an apparent in-fighting incident. The police forces attempted to arrest a soldier when the SNA troops opened fire, prompting a short gun battle in which at least two civilians and one SNA soldier were killed while four others were wounded.