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 attack marketplace in Taiz city; AQAP retracts statement threatening attacks on military leaders’ homes in Abyan; plan to exchange child prisoners proceeds; Saudi Arabia criticizes UN report blacklisting the coalition for violating children’s rights; government security forces foil militia attack on Aden airport; Islah party chairman calls for jihad during Ramadan; al Houthi leaders forbid loudspeaker use for Sunni prayers in Sana’a
Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan police vehicles in Mandera, Mandera County, Kenya; SNA and AMISOM forces launch clearing operation against al Shabaab near Bardhere, Gedo region; SNA and AMISOM troops destroy al Shabaab taxation center in Berhani, Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Somali president visits Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya; Finnish police arrest Somali man suspected of funding al Shabaab; suspected al Shabaab militants shell AMISOM’s Halane Training Facility in Waberi District, Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi forces attacked a popular market in Taiz city, Taiz governorate with rockets and sniper fire on June 3. The attacks killed at least nine civilians, including a child, and wounded at least 24. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed strongly condemned the attacks on Jun 3, calling them inhumane. The government delegation and the al Houthi-General People’s Congress party (GPC) delegation met on June 5 to discuss the ongoing crisis in Taiz. The government delegation submitted a proposal on June 5 demanding al Houthi withdrawal from Taiz and increased humanitarian access to the city.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) retracted an April 2016 statement that threatened attacks on the homes of military leaders in Abyan governorate and warned women and children to evacuate. AQAP stated in the June 4 retraction that it is an ally to all Muslims and does not support attacks on local homes, but warned that security officials would not be safe from attacks.
- The committee for prisoner exchange agreed to the unconditional release of child prisoners, according to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen. Yemeni officials agreed to begin the exchange by releasing six al Houthi child prisoners currently held in Ma’rib governorate.
- Saudi Arabia criticized a UN report that blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for violating the rights of children, citing child casualties caused by its air campaign in Yemen. Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al Asiri claimed that the UN did not adequately consult the Yemeni government in conducting their assessment. The UN based the report on eyewitness accounts and research by international human rights groups. The Yemeni government is also included on the blacklist.
- Government security forces foiled an attack on Aden airport on June 5. An armed group attacked airport guards in an effort to free a French national who was detained by security forces last week. Government security services later apprehended the attackers and seized their vehicles. The attackers may be led by Minister of State Hani bin Brik, according to some reports. Bin Brik is a prominent Salafi and political leader in Aden who may also be responsible for the illegal deportation of northern Yemeni citizens from Aden which began in early May.
- Mohammed al Yadoumi, chairman of the Islah Party, called on his supporters to continue to conduct jihad during the holy month of Ramadan to end the protracted crisis. Islah is an Islamist party whose militias are currently fighting against the al Houthis, predominantly in Taiz city.
- Al Houthi leaders forbade imams in Sana’a from using loudspeakers to broadcast the Taraweeh and Qiyam prayers during Ramadan. These prayers are unique to Sunni Islam and take place at night.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked two Kenyan police vehicles in Mandera, Mandera County, Kenya on June 3. The police were traveling to Mandera when one of the vehicles ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) near Mansa. Militants then opened fire on the vehicles, injuring three officers. Kenyan security forces launched a clearing operation in Mandera County after the attack. 
- The Somali National Army (SNA) launched an offensive against al Shabaab militants near Bardhere, Gedo region. SNA forces supported by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops arrested more than 30 suspected al Shabaab members and seized weapons in Burdubo, Gedo region on May 27. The SNA recaptured Bardere and Burdubo and is now searching for al Shabaab leaders near Bardhere, according to a SNA commander.
- AMISOM and SNA forces destroyed an al Shabaab taxation center and killed three militants in Berhani, Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on June 4. AMISOM and SNA troops are conducting a joint counter-al Shabaab campaign in Kismayo. Somali special forces and AMISOM forces supported by U.S. advisers attack an al Shabaab base in villages near Kismayo on May 31.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa County, Kenya on June 6. Mohamud is the first Somali president to visit the camp, which houses an estimated 600,000 refugees, most of whom are Somali. His visit follows Kenya’s announcement on May 31 that it will close the camp by November 2016, citing security concerns. 
- Finnish police arrested a Somali man on June 3 suspected of financing al Shabaab following an investigation by Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The Somali native arrived in Finland in September 2015. Al Shabaab receives financial aid from Nordic countries, according to the Finnish police. Finnish security forces charged four Somalis in September 2014 with providing financial support to al Shabaab.
- Suspected al Shabaab militants fired a mortar at AMISOM’s Halane Training Facility in Waberi District, Mogadishu on June 4. An AMISOM spokesman denied reports of the attack, but local security forces investigated the mortar’s launch site. Al Shabaab militants shelled the Halane camp on May 2.