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 Houthis will accept President Hadi as transitional president and withdraw from cities if included in consensus government; President Hadi’s delegation releases political vision for transitional government; UN blacklists Saudi-led coalition for crimes against children; oil employees strike against al Houthi management in Ma’rib governorate; U.S. Department of State decides not to classify al Houthis as a terrorist group
Horn of Africa: Airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants kill civilians in villages in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Somali government to increase security in Mogadishu before August elections
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam announced on June 3 that the al Houthi delegation has agreed to allow President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to remain president of a transitional government. They also agreed, in theory, to withdraw from cities once a peace agreement has been reached. Abdul Salam averred that the al Houthis “do not have a problem” with withdrawing and turning over weapons to the state, as long as al Houthi representatives play a significant role in a consensus government.
- President Hadi’s delegation presented its vision for a new political settlement at the UN-led peace talks in Kuwait, which is contingent upon the restoration of government organizations and the resumption of the political process. The government’s position stated that the political transition requires an end to the al Houthi “coup,” in accordance with the Gulf Initiative, the results of the National Dialogue, and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2216. UNSCR 2216 calls for the disarmament of al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and their withdrawal from seized territories.
- The UN added the Saudi-led coalition to a blacklist of armed groups who violate the rights of children in an annual report on children and armed conflict released on June 3. The coalition is responsible for 60 percent of child casualties in the current conflict in Yemen, according to the report. The blacklist, which designates armed groups that recruit child soldiers or kill, injure, abduct, or sexually assault children during armed conflict, already includes the al Houthis, the Yemeni government and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Human Rights Watch called for the release of child prisoners of war and estimated that one-third of all soldiers in Yemen are children in a June 2 report.
- Employees of the Safer oil exploration company in Ma’rib governorate went on strike for the second day on June 3, protesting al Houthi operating procedures. They called for the al Houthis to periodically maintain the equipment, provide spare parts and re-adopt the operating budget. Safer is one of the main providers of domestic oil and gas. Production has dropped significantly since al Houthi forces took control of the site.
- The U.S. Department of State decided to not classify the al Houthi movement as a terrorist organization. Spokesman Justin Siberell expressed concern for Iran’s continued support for the al Houthis, but stated that this support did not include terrorist activities.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Airstrikes targeting al Shabaab killed seven civilians, including children, and wounded eight others in villages in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, including Berhani village, on June 3. Local reports claimed that U.S. warplanes conducted the strikes. Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) warplanes launched airstrikes targeting al Shabaab bases in Berhani on May 24.
- The Somali Security Minister said on June 2 that the government will tighten security in Mogadishu before federal elections in August. The Minister’s statement came two days after al Shabaab attacked the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu and killed at least 16 people, including two Somali members of parliament.