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: Yemeni police officer killed by southern separatists; U.S. to help expand Yemen’s air force to battle AQAP; ceasefire faces challenges from new signs of al Houthi conflict; Yemen’s ruling political party accuses former governor of supplying weapons to the al Houthi rebels
Horn of Africa: Former Hizb al Islam official absconds money and changes name; former senior Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a official rejects TFG deal; Singaporean ship released by pirates for cash
Yemen Security Brief
A Yemeni police officer was shot and killed by southern separatists in the town of Zanjibar in the Abyan governorate. This marks the fourth security force death this week. Witnesses claim the officer had previously received threats from militia members, who were led by a separatist leader. The killing comes after violent unrest and government arrests in the south this past week.
In an effort to expand the air and ground offensive against AQAP, the Pentagon intends to expand Yemen’s air force by providing helicopters, transport equipment, and training to Yemeni forces. The program will “repair and service 10 Mi-17 helicopters, provide four Huey IIs,” provide operational and mechanical training, and increase the capacity to conduct night, day and high altitude operations.
The Sa’ada governorate has been experiencing signs of resumed armed-conflict between the Yemeni government and al Houthi rebels. According to local sources, al Houthi rebels have been reassembling at their fortified bases. This comes after al Houthi claims that the Yemeni government is not committed to the ceasefire. Rebels stated the “The mechanism installed by the state to complete the truce is both unreasonable and impractical,” and its implementation within the specified timeframe and locations would result in suicide for the group.
The General People’s Congress, Yemen’s ruling political party, accused former Sa’ada Governor Faisal Manna, along with his brother, Fares Manaa, a prominent arms dealer, of supplying weapons to al Houthi rebels.
Horn of Africa Brief
After receiving threats from other Islamists, former Hizb al Islam “Secretary of Defense” Sheikh Muse Abdi Aralle, now known as Sheikh Isse, has taken $700,000 from his rebel group and now resides in Khartoum.
Former Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a leader, Sheikh Omar Sheikh Mohammed Farah, denies the group has negotiated for positions within the TFG. Farah stated the recent agreement reached between the two groups was to increase cooperation against the militant Islamist groups through forging a “better understand and strengthening military cooperation.” He continued to say his group’s aim is not to obtain government positions, as rumors speculated, but rather to “oust” al Shabaab and Hizb al Islam from Somalia.
A Singaporean chemical tanker captured by Somali pirates was released after the cash ransom was delivered to the pirates in a waterproof container dropped from a small plane with a parachute. Crew members aboard the ship consisted of Chinese, Indians, Nigerians, and Vietnamese. A sharp increase in pirate attacks is expected in the coming months of March, April, and May due to calmer weather making attacks easier to launch.