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: UN Secretary-General urges Yemeni delegations at Kuwait peace talks to make concessions; clashes continue in Nihm, Sana’a governorate ahead of a planned government offensive on Sana’a; government commander insists al Anad air base is not threatened by al Houthi-Saleh advance; pro-Saudi sources say divisions growing in al Houthi movement; Saudi-led coalition targets al Houthi positions in Sana’a and Lahij governorates
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Naso Hablod Hotel in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants destroy telecommunications equipment in northeast Kenya; al Shabaab fighters attack AMISOM base near Luq town, Gedo region; SNA and AMISOM troops withdraw from Goof Guduud village, Bay region
Yemen Security Brief
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah on June 26 on progress made in the peace talks in Kuwait, which remain unproductive. Ban urged negotiating parties to cooperate with the Special Envoy to Yemen and show the flexibility and responsibility required of them, especially given the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Ban Ki-moon invoked the example of the Colombian government and Farc rebels, who recently struck a peace deal in Cuba, to illustrate that even the most protracted conflicts can be brought to peace. Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam responded that the al Houthi delegation had been extremely cooperative with the UN Special Envoy and regularly engages in constructive discussions to “complete the transitional period through reaching a consensus presidency,” and “[form] a national unity government and a joint military and security committee to prepare for the next phase.”
- Clashes continued in the Nihm district east of the capital Sana’a on June 27. Government forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claim to be preparing a major assault on the al Houthi-controlled capital, and local sources report that government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition will advance on Sana’a from Shabwah governorate, moving through Ma’rib and al Jawf governorates before attacking the capital from the east. Twelve al Houthi fighters and three members of the popular resistance and national army died in the clashes in Nihm on June 27.
- Major General Ahmed Sayef al Yafae, the commander of Aden-based Fourth Military Region, emphasized that al Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh are not threatening al Anad air base in Lahij governorate. Local media reported on June 21 that al Houthi-Saleh forces advanced within artillery range of the air base. Al Yafae attributed the gains al Houthi-Saleh forces have made to their theft of advanced military equipment from the Yemeni army, which the U.S. provided for the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
- The al Houthi movement may be experiencing growing divisions in both political and military affairs, according to pro-Saudi sources. Yemeni diplomats report that al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi no longer has complete control over his subordinates, evidenced by so-called “waffling” reported by pro-Hadi onlookers at the peace talks in Kuwait. Some factions in the al Houthi-Saleh alliance reportedly agreed to the UN Special Envoy to Yemen’s recent roadmap, presented on June 22, while other factions denounced it. Pro-Saudi sources also allege that the al Houthis’ deteriorating command and control is producing erratic decisions on the battlefield.
- The Saudi-led coalition conducted two airstrikes targeting al Houthi positions in Khawlan, Sana’a governorate and al Qabaytah, Lahij governorate on June 26. The Khawlan airstrike killed five people southeast of the capital Sana’a, while the al Qabaytah strike killed two people. Al Houthis and allied forces are attempting to advance towards coalition-held al Anad air base in Lahij.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack on the Naso Hablod Hotel in Mogadishu on June 25. Militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the hotel gate then assaulted the building using small arms fire. A militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) once inside the compound. The attack killed 16 individuals, including Somali Minister for the Environment Buri Mohamed Hamza, and wounded at least 24 others. Al Shabaab conducted a similar attack on the Hotel Ambassador in Mogadishu on June 1 that killed 16.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) base and destroyed telecommunications equipment near Damasa area, Mandera County, Kenya on June 25. The militants began their attack with mortar fire and followed with a ground assault. No casualties were reported on either side. Al Shabaab forces destroyed nearby telecoms infrastructure, causing communications blackouts in northeastern Kenya.
- Al Shabaab fighters attacked an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base near Luq town, Gedo region on June 25. The militants detonated an explosive device to initiate the attack and followed with exchanges of small arms fire. Reports indicated five total casualties.
- Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM troops withdrew from Goof Guduud town, Bay region on June 27. Locals noted that the soldiers abandoned equipment as they fled, and that al Shabaab militants are waiting on the outskirts of the village.