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 Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula presence visible in Jaar and Zinjibar, Abyan governorate; Al Houthi fighters destroy home of alleged AQAP militant and kill seven others in al Nadirah, Ibb governorate; UN-led peace talks in Kuwait remain deadlocked; Yemeni minister meets with World Bank representatives
Horn of Africa: Kenyan citizens claim KDF airstrikes killed three children; Ugandan People's Defense Force announces plan to withdraw from Somalia by December 2017; Kenya increases border security in response to credible al Shabaab threat; Former Puntland mayor launches putsch for control of autonomous state; Turkey and Qatar announce aid to Hiraan region; suspected al Shabaab militants launch mortars at AMISOM base in Halgan, Hiraan region
Yemen Security Brief
- Residents of Jaar and Zinjibar in Abyan governorate reported that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants are operating openly in the cities during the day. AQAP withdrew from populated areas in Abyan in late April and May 2016 after negotiations with local tribes. Jaar was the capital of AQAP’s “Emirate of Waqar” in 2011-2012.
- Al Houthi forces detonated an explosive in the home of militant Abdul Hameed Shaheet, allegedly affiliated with AQAP according to al Houthi news sources, in al Nadirah, Ibb governorate on June 22. Al Houthis evicted Shaheet’s wife and family, then looted and destroyed the home after the al Houthis were unable to locate the militant. Seven farmers working nearby were killed and three others injured. Houthi-run state news agency Saba reported that eight al Qaeda-affiliated militants were killed, seven injured and 15 others arrested in an operation in al Nadirah.
- The al Houthi delegation released a statement on June 22 affirming the importance of reaching consensus on the presidency, which is “at the center of all other issues, like the formation of a national unity government and a supreme security and military committee.” Pro-Hadi sources interpreted this statement as a refusal to accept Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi as the transitional president. Additionally, the spokesman of the pro-Hadi delegation said that his delegation would refuse to make any political arrangements with the al Houthis before military withdrawal and disarmament is finalized, further exacerbating the gridlock at UN-led peace talks in Kuwait.
- Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al Maytami met with World Bank representatives on June 22 to discuss unfreezing Yemen’s World Bank portfolio of loans and aid. Al Maytami also petitioned the World Bank to restart multiple programs that were suspended in March 2015 following the outbreak of the conflict. Yemeni government officials have met with World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials numerous times since to advocate for the reinstatement of assistance programs, especially as Yemen’s economy continues to weaken.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Kenyan citizens reported that the Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) airstrikes targeting al Shabaab locations killed three Kenyan children on the Kenyan side of El Wak, Mandera County, Kenya on June 22. Previous reports indicated that the airstrikes occurred within Somalia. Kenyan officials insist that their air assets were grounded during the event. The airstrikes on Kenyan soil would be the first incident of KDF airpower targeting al Shabaab militants within Kenyan territory.
- The Chief of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), General Katumba Wamala, announced December 2017 as the start date of Ugandan withdrawal from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on June 23. The United Nations is expected to extend the AMISOM mandate next month, but a 20% cut in funding from the European Union this past February has raised talks of withdrawal. Contrary to General Wamala’s statement, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, announced December 2018 as the agreed upon withdrawal date of ground forces by AMISOM commanders.
- Kenya increased its security along the border region with Somalia in the wake of credible intelligence that al Shabaab is planning a major attack within Kenya on June 23. Al Shabaab has conducted ambush and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Mandera county and Garissa county, Kenya, this past week. Intelligence reports listed Nairobi as a target.
- Hundreds of armed supporters loyal to Abdisamed Mohamed Gallan, a former mayor of Boosaaso, Puntland, occupied multiple strategically important towns throughout the Puntland region in an effort to oust sitting President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali on June 23. The semi-autonomous state of Puntland has avoided many of the security issues that have plagued the southern and central areas of Somalia in large part due to funding from the United Arab Emirates.
- Turkey and Qatar announced plans to provide assistance in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on June 23. Intense flooding and an increasingly dismal security situation have plagued the region. Approximately 20% of Somalia’s population suffers from food insecurity. Turkey continues to play a central role in Somali internal affairs and plans to construct a military base in Mogadishu.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants launched mortars into the Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Halgan, Hiraan region on June 22. The attack killed one civilian in a nearby town. Al Shabaab militants conducted a major assault on the AMISOM base in Halgan that killed 60 coalition troops on June 9.