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 President Hadi meets with King Salman of Saudi Arabia; two reported U.S. UAV strikes target AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; Saudi-led coalition intercepts al Houthi ballistic missile targeting Abha, Saudi Arabia; Yemeni prime minister says current government structure is unstainable; Yemeni army Chief of Staff announces imminent offensive on Sana’a; militants attempt to assassinate al Hizam brigade leader in Aden; al Houthi-Saleh forces clash with government and popular resistance forces in al Hayjah, al Jawf governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri praises al Shabaab and calls for continued attacks on government and coalition troops in Somalia and Kenya; pro-ISIS Jabha East Africa releases message urging al Shabaab fighters to defect; Somali President Mohamud calls on al Shabaab militants to renounce violence; Ugandan President Museveni reconsiders plan to withdraw forces from AMISOM mission; suspected al Shabaab militants fire mortars in Baidoa, Bay region; KDF launches airstrikes on al Shabaab training camps in Gedo region
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on July 4 to discuss developments in the Yemeni conflict. President Hadi thanked King Salman for defending Yemen and the region from “Persian expansion,” which Hadi blamed for igniting sectarian strife. The Republic of Yemen and the al Houthi movement publicly condemned the multiple terrorist attacks that targeted Medina, Jeddah, and Qatif in Saudi Arabia on July 4.
- A reported U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strike targeted three suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members in Shabwah governorate on July 1. The airstrike killed six people, according to local tribesmen. It is not clear if AQAP militants were killed. A second reported UAV strike targeted suspected AQAP militants in a car in Ataq district, Shabwah governorate on July 4, killing two people and injuring three others.
- The Saudi-led coalition intercepted an al Houthi ballistic missile fired from Yemen targeting Abha, Saudi Arabia on 4 July. No casualties occurred.
- Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghir announced that Yemen’s governmental structure formed after the 1990 unification is unsustainable, and that his countrymen are now building a “new, just, civil, democratic federation.” This is likely a nod to the Southern Movement’s calls for increased visibility in the unified government and local political will to form a more federalized government.
- The General Chief of Staff of the Yemeni Military, Major General Mohammad Ali al Maqdashi, stated that the Yemeni military is planning an imminent offensive on Sana’a to spare citizens from further destruction. He added that the al Houthis attempted to take advantage of the period of negotiations, but failed to make military gains during the peace talks. He also noted that he is preparing to reform the military to prevent the reoccurrence of internal fissures that precipitated previous conflicts.
- Militants detonated a car bomb targeting Haidara Ahmed al Muharami, military leader of the al Hizam Brigades in Aden, on July 4. The al Hizam Brigades are a Salafi group that operates in and around Aden. The bomb exploded in al Muharami’s military vehicle while al Muharami was inside his home in the Saleheddin area of al Burayqah, Aden governorate. No casualties were reported.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with government and popular resistance forces in the al Hayjah area east of al Masloub district, al Jawf governorate on July 5. The Popular Resistance Media Center stated that al Houthi leader Ali Hassan bin Nas’a died following clashes in al Matun area of al Jawf governorate. Multiple members of the popular resistance were also killed in the clashes.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri released a one-minute video message on July 4 praising al Shabaab for attacks on Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops throughout Somalia and Kenya. Zawahiri also called for continued attacks throughout the region.
- Pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Jabha East Africa (JEA) released a message on July 4 urging members of al Shabaab to defect to their newly formed organization. JEA criticized al Shabaab for refusing to pledge allegiance to ISIS and claimed that al Shabaab is close to defeat. JEA made a specific appeal for Kenyans, Ugandans, and Tanzanians to join its ranks.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called on al Shabaab militants to renounce violence and return to civilian life on July 1. He called for all levels of leadership as well as enlisted fighters to surrender. President Mohamud has relied on the National Program for Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants in the country’s fight against violent extremism.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is reconsidering Uganda’s timeline for withdrawing its forces from the AMISOM coalition. President Museveni issued a statement on July 4 disavowing the June 23 pronouncement by Chief of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), General Katumba Wamala, who cited December 2017 as the withdrawal date.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants launched mortars into civilian areas in Baidoa in Bay region on July 2. The attacks killed at least two civilians and wounded eight others. The militants were likely targeting the nearby airport or presidential palace in Baidoa.
- Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) warplanes conducted airstrikes on al Shabaab training camps near Beled Hawo in Gedo region on July 2. The strikes reportedly killed a number of militants and destroyed caches of weapons and explosives, as well as vehicles.