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 frees prisoners in Jaar, Abyan governorate; UN Special Envoy to Yemen proposes new roadmap; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell Kirsh in northern Lahij near al Anad air base; al Hizam security forces dismantle qat markets in Aden; clashes continue in Taiz

Horn of Africa: Kenya launches airstrikes against al Shabaab positions in Elwak, Gedo region; al Shabaab assassinates senior intelligence official in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; SNA forces clash with one another in Beled Hawo, Gedo region; former Somali minister announces his bid for the presidency

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants raided the central prison in Jaar, Abyan on June 20, freeing prisoners after they gained control of the building. AQAP controlled Jaar, Abyan in May 2016, but withdrew following tribal mediation after the Emirati offensive to regain control of al Mukalla, Yemen’s third-largest port city in Hadramawt governorate, from AQAP. AQAP militants assassinated two prominent anti-AQAP individuals in Jaar in the past week.[1]
  • UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed a roadmap for Yemen on June 22. The roadmap calls for a unity government based in Sana’a, the official capital, to provide basic services and reconstruction while talks continue in order to reach consensus on the details of a government structure. The delegations have not yet agreed to the roadmap and are negotiating the timing. The main roadblock is likely the Hadi government delegation’s refusal to accept a unity government before al Houthi-Saleh forces withdraw from seized territory.[2]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled popular resistance forces in Kirsh in northern Lahij governorate on June 21 as part of the ongoing fight near al Anad air base. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also took Jales Mountain, overlooking the coalition-controlled air base on June 21 following persistent clashes near al Qubbaytah. Jales is geographically closer to the air base, but Kirsh is located on the main road leading to the air base.[3]
  • A local Islamist group in Aden, the al Hizam security forces, resumed dismantling qat markets on June 22. Members raided two street markets in the Dar Saad and Sheikh Othman neighborhoods of Aden that were blocking traffic. The group, which serves a policing role, attempted to enforce a ban on weekday sales of qat that the government of Aden passed on May 16 and subsequently repealed after public backlash.[4]
  • Coalition-backed popular resistance forces and the Yemeni army clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Dhabab neighborhood, western Taiz city, killing 23 al Houthi and three resistance fighters. An unknown number of al Houthi militants were captured by Hadi government forces during the clashes. Al Houthi-Saleh shelling also killed five civilians in Taiz on June 21, including four women. The governor of Taiz denounced the international community as “complicit” in the “massacre” of civilians in Taiz.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan fighter jets conducted airstrikes against suspected al Shabaab positions near Elwak town, Gedo region on June 21. No reliable casualty reports were released. Al Shabaab militants killed five Kenyan policemen in an ambush near Elwak on June 20. It is likely that the airstrikes were Kenya’s response to the al Shabaab attack.[6]
  • Al Shabaab assassinated the chief of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) for the Middle Shabelle region, Abdiweli Ibrahim Mohamed, near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region on June 21. Sources indicate that Mohamed’s body guard, a reported al Shabaab defector, conducted the attack. Somali law enforcement apprehended the attacker.[7]
  • Groups of Somali National Army (SNA) forces clashed with one another near Beled Hawo town in Gedo region on June 21. The fighting broke out when troops loyal to a local deputy governor disputed a checkpoint with another SNA contingent. The ensuing violence killed one soldier and wounded two others. Violence between rival factions of the SNA has hampered the group’s ability to provide security throughout southern and central Somalia.[8]
  • Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame announced his bid to challenge sitting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in the expected August 2016 elections on June 21. Warsame is a former member of parliament and previously served as minister for planning and international cooperation. Warsame blamed Mohamud for the SNA’s incompetence and the deteriorating security situation throughout Somalia in his announcement.[9]

[1] “Al Qaeda militants took over central prison in Jaar, Abyan,” Aden Time, June 21, 2016,
[2] “UN Envoy proposes roadmap for Yemen peace,” al Arabiya, June 22, 2016,
[3] “Al Houthi and Saleh fighters shell popular resistance locations in Kirsh,” al Masdar, June 22, 2016,
[4] “Security Brigade proceeds in the implementation of plan B against qat markets,” Aden al Ghad, June 22, 2016,
[5] “Field Source: 23 Houthis and 3 resistance fighters killed in heavy fighting west of the city of Taiz,” al Masdar, June 22, 2016,; and “Civilian death toll in the bombing of Taiz rises to 5 and governor accuses the international community of ‘complicity,’” al Masdar, June 22, 2016,
[6] “Kenya jets bomb Al-Shabab camp,” Goobjoog News, June 22, 2016,
[7] “Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the killing of a senior Somali security official,” Goobjoog News, June 22, 2016,; and “Head of NISA Middle Shabelle region killed in jowhar,” Goobjoog News, June 22, 2016,
[8] “Somalia: Fighting in Beled Hawo kills one, injures Two,” Shabelle News, June 21, 2016,
[9] “Former Somali minister for planning declares his 2016 presidential bid,” Goobjoog News, June 21, 2016,
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