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: Reported U.S. airstrike targets Ansar al Sharia militants in al Bayda governorate; government delegate says agreement in Kuwait remains unlikely; al Houthi religious officials arrest Sunni imams for performing Taraweeh prayers; Emirati-led military forces storm Islah party headquarters; Saudi Arabia coerces UN to force reevaluation; UN Envoy to Yemen holds separate peace talks; Saudi Arabia introduces plan for ceasefire monitoring improvements; clashes in Taiz continue
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Ethiopian AMISOM base in Halgan, Hiraan region; Kenyan president announces members of special joint Parliamentary committee to resolve IEBC stalemate; suspected al Shabaab militants kill Somali policemen in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- A reported U.S. airstrike killed several militants affiliated with Ansar al Sharia, the insurgent arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in al Zahir, al Bayda governorate on June 9. The airstrike targeted a moving vehicle and killed and wounded an unknown number of militants.
- Abdullah al Alimi, a member of the delegation representing President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government at UN-led peace talks in Kuwait, said on June 9 that a peace agreement or settlement remains unlikely. He noted that his delegation is in Kuwait to negotiate the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and will not accept any agreement that legitimizes the al Houthi “coup.” The government delegation is focused on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which mandates that the al Houthis disarm and withdraw from all seized territory. The al Houthi delegation is prioritizing representation in a transitional government.
- Al Houthi forces arrested several imams in Sana’a on June 9 for refusing to obey a ban on the use of loudspeakers for taraweeh prayers. Al Houthi officials in Sana’a banned loudspeaker use for taraweeh, a Sunni practice of lengthy congregational prayers occurring at night during Ramadan season, on June 6. At the time of one imam’s arrest, worshippers physically assaulted the al Houthi officials, forcing the al Houthis to retreat. The prayers continued under a different imam. Al Houthi religious officials have also attempted to restrict sermons and religious studies in local Sunni mosques in recent weeks.
- Military forces in al Mukalla stormed the headquarters of the Islah party, an Islamist political party, and arrested the director and a security guard on June 9. The military forces also confiscated several hard drives located in the headquarters. Some reports indicate that the soldiers were Emirati security forces, who have targeted Islah members suspected of ties to AQAP since recapturing al Mukalla from AQAP in April 2016.
- Reported Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted an al Houthi position in al Qabaytah, Lahij governorate on June 9, following several days of clashes between al Houthis and popular resistance fighters. The al Houthis are attempting to advance towards the nearby al Anad air base, the largest in Yemen.
- Saudi Arabia coerced the UN to rescind the Saudi addition to the human rights blacklist on June 6 by threatening a “total rupture” of relations between the KSA and the UN. News reports also suggest that there may have been mention of possible fatwas declaring the UN “anti-Muslim.” 
- UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held separate talks with each delegation on June 9 to discuss the restoration of the state, rebel withdrawal from cities, and the surrendering of weapons. Ould Cheikh Ahmed also drew attention to the worsening economic situation in Yemen and noted that failing to address the dire economic conditions will have dramatic consequences.
- Saudi Arabia presented a plan for improving ceasefire monitoring on June 9. The module, accepted by both sides according to Saudi media, would form an organizational body to coordinate local ceasefire committees and establish “field parties” to monitor violations in real time and report back to the ceasefire committees. The Yemeni delegations participating in the UN-led talks in Kuwait approved local ceasefire committees on April 9, 2016, and these committees began their work on April 16, 2016.
- Clashes continue in the city of Taiz, where residents heard the sounds of machine gun fire and bombs on June 9. Reports claimed that pro-government forces gained control of several military sites formerly controlled by the al Houthis near the city center. Taiz has been a hot zone since the conflict began, but clashes have escalated in recent days, especially in residential areas.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab attacked an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Halgan, Hiraan region on June 9. Militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) to break into the base before opening fire. Al Shabaab’s spokesperson initially said the militants killed 43 government soldiers but later claimed to kill 60 and announced 16 militant casualties. AMISOM said it repelled the attack and killed 110 militants. Djiboutian AMISOM troops assisted in the counterattack and Ethiopian AMISOM helicopters conducted airstrikes targeting al Shabaab. Al Shabaab attacked Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM bases with gunfire in Halgan on May 16 but failed to penetrate the base.
- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta established a special joint committee of Parliament to lead talks on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stalemate on June 8. The dialogue will attempt to resolve growing tensions between the IEBC and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) over alleged biases in the electoral process in favor of Kenyatta. Kenyan police forces killed several protesters during anti-IEBC protests organized by CORD in Kisumu, Kisumu County and Siaya, Siaya County, Kenya over the past few weeks.
- Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants may be responsible for an attack on Somali policemen in Mogadishu on June 8. The pro-ISIS ‘Amaq News Agency credited the attack to ISIS.