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: Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah condemns Saudi-led coalition campaign in Yemen; coalition spokesman confirms airstrikes on AQAP targets in Yemen; MSF workers evacuate facility in Sa’ada governorate following nearby airstrikes
Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM outpost in Marka, Lower Shabelle region; SNA and AMISOM forces launch raid on al Shabaab-controlled villages in Lower Jubba region; ASWJ fighters engage regional security forces in Dhusamareb, Galgaduud region
Yemen Security Brief
- Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a televised address on March 1 condemning recent Saudi and Gulf state actions, including the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen. Nasrallah described the Yemeni people as the most oppressed in the world, surpassing even the Palestinians. He declared his own opposition to the coalition’s campaign as “the real jihad” and referred to his March 27, 2015 condemnation of the coalition’s intervention as his proudest accomplishment. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies recently imposed diplomatic and financial pressure on Lebanon, in response to Lebanon’s failure to condemn the January 3 attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran. The Yemeni government under President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has joined its coalition backers in isolating Lebanon, while also putting forward evidence of Lebanese Hezbollah’s involvement in Yemen’s ongoing civil war. The Gulf Cooperation Council voted on March 2 to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
- Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al Asiri confirmed on March 1 that the coalition is carrying out airstrikes on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targets and stated that the coalition does not differentiate among AQAP, Saleh, and the al Houthis. The confirmation marks a departure from the coalition’s previous stance that airstrikes cannot defeat AQAP and the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and that Yemen must achieve stability before addressing jihadist threats. Gen. Asiri’s statement comes on the heels of a reported coalition strike on an AQAP weapons store near al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on March 1.
- Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff evacuated a facility in Razih district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on March 1, following a series of nearby airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led coalition. Coalition airstrikes have reportedly hit multiple MSF facilities in Yemen over the past year. The coalition acknowledged hitting a MSF hospital in Sa’ada governorate in October 2015 and promised an independent investigation into other claims of civilian casualties.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outpost in the downtown Marka, Lower Shabelle region on March 1-2. SNA and AMISOM forces conducted security operations on the outskirts of the town after the attack. Government sources have not released casualty figures for the attack. Al Shabaab militants seized control of Marka for a short time earlier this month when the city’s AMISOM garrison was absent and have since maintained a presence around the town.
- SNA and Kenyan AMISOM troops launched a surprise attack on al Shabaab fighters in Abdalla-Birole village near Kismayo in Lower Jubba region late on March 1. A Jubbaland regional government spokesman claimed that the attack killed seven militants and said that al Shabaab used the village as a staging area for attacks in and around Kismayo and the greater Jubbaland area.
- The Sufi Islamist paramilitary group Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) attacked pro-government militias and Galmudug regional security forces Somalia’s Galgudud regional capital of Dhusamareb on March 1-2. The incident developed after ASWJ fighters attempted to disarm a former ASWJ commander, Liban Madadweyne, who arrived with the pro-government militia in Dhusamareb to persuade ASWJ to integrate into the Galmudug regional security units. ASWJ has rejected offers from both Galmudug and the Somali Federal Government to assimilate into the regular security forces and said last week that they would consider use of force to prohibit government officials from visiting Dhusamareb.
Tom Perry and Laila Bassam, “Hezbollah sees new struggle in Lebanon, denounces Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, March 1, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-hezbollah-idUSKCN0W35M4.
“Speech of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah 2016-3-1,” YouTube, March 1, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHnjaX-6UCk.
Adam Schreck, “Gulf nations declare Lebanon's Hezbollah a terrorist group,” Associated Press, March 2, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/9e690327e7ed4aac8b00c40b8d3d4c9d/gulf-nations-declare-lebanons-hezbollah-terrorist-group.