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: Al Houthi fighters release prisoners as part of larger prisoner swap; UN Special Envoy to Yemen prepares to brief Security Council; member of Yemeni government delegation states talks need “a miracle” to succeed; U.S. extends special forces’ deployment in Yemen; popular resistance fighters ambush al Houthi vehicles in al Sawma’a
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab acknowledges death of Garissa University mastermind Dulyadeyn; al Shabaab ambushes Kenyan police in Mandera County; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM convoy in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants launch mortars at AMISOM base near Marka, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants clash with KDF troops near Hosingow, Lower Shabelle region; NISA operatives capture five alleged al Shabaab militants in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi officials released 276 prisoners, about 200 in al Bayda and the remainder in al Dhamar governorates, on June 19. Local militias on both sides also released nearly 200 prisoners in Taiz city on June 18, including 118 al Houthi-Saleh and 76 pro-government fighters. Prisoner swaps began in early June as part of the Kuwait peace talks. A local ceasefire and prisoner exchange was supposed to begin at noon on June 19 in Maris, al Dhaleh governorate, though al Houthi-Saleh fighters fired rockets into two nearby towns.
- UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) party representatives on June 19. They discussed military withdrawal, weapons handovers and the restoration of state institutions, which are called for under UN Security Council Resolution 2216. The UN Special Envoy will brief the UN Security Council on June 21 on the progress the Yemeni delegations have made and the work that remains to be done.
- Abdullah al Alimi, deputy head of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s presidential office and a member of the pro-Hadi government delegation, opined on June 19 that the peace talks remain “difficult, complex, and require something like a miracle.” He said that the two delegations are still “very far apart.” The delegations have not reached a negotiated solution after nearly three months of talks. Al Alimi made similarly negative assessments in previous weeks.
- U.S. officials stated that the Pentagon will extend a U.S. Special Forces counter-terrorism operation in Yemen on June 17. A small group of U.S. special forces that deployed in April 2016 will remain in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate, to advise and assist Emirati forces in operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
- Anti-al Houthi popular resistance militiamen ambushed al Houthi-Saleh vehicles in Dhi Na'im, al Bayda governorate, on June 19, killing six al Houthi-Saleh fighters, including a leader. Southern al Bayda continues to be a key front line in Yemen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab confirmed the death of senior military commander Mohamed Mohamud Kuno “Dulyadeyn” in a June 18 statement. Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops killed Dulyadeyn during a raid near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on May 31 with assistance from U.S. forces. Dulyadeyn was al Shabaab’s top commander in its fight against Kenya and the alleged mastermind of the Garissa University attack in May 2015 that killed 148 students.
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan police vehicle in Dimu area, Mandera County, Kenya on June 20. The militants killed five Kenyan police officers in the attack, which lasted approximately half an hour. Al Shabaab has used improvised explosive devices (IED) and ambush style attacks to foil Kenyan police movements in Mandera County, which borders the turbulent Gedo region of southwest Somalia.
- Al Shabaab fighters ambushed an AMISOM convoy traveling through Barawe town, Lower Shabelle region on June 18. The militants detonated an IED and attacked the convoy with small arms for three hours. Al Shabaab spokesman claimed to have killed ten AMISOM troops and destroyed three vehicles. An AMISOM colonel insisted that his troops killed seven al Shabaab fighters and captured five more in a successful counterattack.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants launched mortars at the AMISOM base outside of Marka town, Lower Shabelle region on June 19. The AMISOM troops responded with artillery fire that killed two civilians in Janale, Lower Shabelle region. Al Shabaab has repeatedly launched mortars into the urban centers in and around Mogadishu with the hope of motivating an overly aggressive AMISOM response.
- Al Shabaab militants clashed with Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) troops operating under the auspices of AMISOM near Hosingow, Lower Shabelle region on June 19. The combatants exchanged both small arms and artillery fire. Sources have not released reports on casualty counts.
- Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces captured five alleged al Shabaab militants in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu, Banadir region on June 19. The offensive was part of the Somali Federal Government’s mission to counter al Shabaab’s increase in violent activity during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Correction: A previous version of the Gulf of Aden Security Review identified the location of the ambush on al Houthi-Saleh fighters as Sawma’a, al Bayda. It has been corrected to Dhi Na’im, al Bayda.