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 Special Envoy announces pause in peace talks in Kuwait; AQAP emir rumored injured by UAV strike in Abyan; U.S. diplomat meets with al Houthi-General People’s Congress delegation in Kuwait; popular resistance and government forces may be preparing for Taiz offensive; Yemen experiences liquidity crisis; Yemeni journalists launch campaign to free journalists held by al Houthis
Horn of Africa: Unidentified aircraft strike al Shabaab positions near Maserey, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants attack SNA and AMISOM bases in Galgaduud region; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM convoys near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region and outside Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab militants conduct IED attack on SNA convoy in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that peace talks in Kuwait are entering a “new phase” in which the delegations will return to Yemen to discuss solutions separately for two weeks. Ould Cheikh Ahmed expects delegates to return to talks in Kuwait on June 15 with concrete plans to end hostilities and form a unity government. Most media sources are framing the “new phase” as a postponement, and whether the talks will resume remains in question. The planned follow-on talks to the June 2015 Geneva talks did not occur because parties refused to resume under the conditions at the time.
- An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strike may have injured al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emir Qasim al Raymi in Abyan governorate on June 28, according to unconfirmed reports from an Emirati newspaper. The Pentagon has not claimed the airstrike.
- U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon met with the al Houthi-General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation on June 27 in Kuwait. The al Houthi delegation apologized for their anti-American slogan, saying that it was meant for “domestic consumption” and is not a core tenant of their movement, according to al Quds al Arabi. Al Houthi-GPC delegates also apologized for the February 2015 evacuation of American embassy in Sana’a during a May 24, 2016 meeting between the al Houthi-GPC delegation and American diplomats in Kuwait. Hamza al Houthi, the leader of the delegation, assured American diplomats that the al Houthis would withdraw from occupied cities and hand over weapons to the unity government. Delegates described the tone of the meeting as friendly. U.S. diplomats continue to call for the withdrawal of al Houthi armed forces from seized cities, including the capital Sana’a, and the establishment of a unity government.
- Popular resistance and government forces may be preparing for a large assault on Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, in the near term. Unverified sources stated that leaders of popular resistance and national army forces in Taiz met with Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghir in Aden to prepare for a possible assault on Taiz city and surrounding areas presently under the control of al Houthi-Saleh forces.
- Yemen is currently experiencing a liquidity crisis. The Yemeni Central Bank is unable to exchange excess foreign currency, namely U.S. dollars and Saudi riyals, into Yemeni rials, leading to a dangerously low amount of local currency in the country. The disproportionately low ratio of Yemeni rials to foreign currency may actually be mitigating inflation in the country, however. Local economic experts warn that Yemen’s economy and already weak financial system are on the brink of collapse.
- The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate has started an international campaign to free journalists held by al Houthi forces. They intend to work with international and local human rights organizations to protect freedom of speech, and are using the Arabic hashtag “#SaveYemeniJournalists.” Al Houthi forces have detained dozens of Yemeni journalists since the beginning of the conflict in 2015.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Unidentified fixed wing aircraft conducted strikes on suspected al Shabaab positions near Maserey village in Middle Shabelle region on June 29. No al Shabaab casualties were reported. The strikes allegedly killed local pastoralists.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Gal Hareeri and a Somali National Army (SNA) base near Elbur in Galgaduud region on June 28. Al Shabaab forces allegedly killed seven AMISOM fighters in the fighting at Gal Hareeri. SNA troops reportedly rebuffed the attack near Elbur and killed two al Shabaab fighters.
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed an AMISOM convoy near Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region on June 28. The coalition forces repelled the al Shabaab attackers with small arms fire. Al Shabaab militants also assaulted an Ethiopian AMISOM convoy outside Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on June 28. The AMISOM troops repelled this attack. Both attacks caused unspecified casualties.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants launched an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an SNA convoy in Mogadishu on June 29. The explosion caused no casualties, but the SNA counterattack with small arms fire killed one onlooker and injured three other civilians.