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: Saleh spokesman attacks al Houthi regime and calls for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216; Hadi government officials expect UN-brokered peace talks this month; Amnesty International calls for U.S. and UK to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia; snipers kill journalists in Taiz city
Horn of Africa: NISA forces raid Mogadishu IDP camp; Puntland claims 70 al Shabaab casualties in Suuj Valley clashes; ISWA forces arrest elder suspected of spying for al Shabaab in Dinsor, Bay region
Yemen Security Brief
- Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s media secretary Ahmed al Soufi attacked the al Houthi leadership in an interview with Saudi media outlet Al Watan on March 22. He accused the al Houthis of compromising Yemen’s national unity and ransacking the state, while also denying rumors that Saleh is in poor health and seeking to flee Yemen. Al Soufi called on the al Houthis to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for their disarmament and withdrawal from captured territories. He acknowledged Saleh’s common interests with the al Houthis and said that both are fighting to protect Yemen, but emphasized they are not allies. Al Soufi also claimed that Iran is involved in Yemen because it wants to control the Bab al Mandab Strait, which is a critical point for access to Red Sea shipping routes.
- UN-brokered peace talks could resume by the end of the month, according to officials in Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s administration. Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi stated that he is “99% sure” that negotiations will proceed later this month in Kuwait. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen is pressing for a new round of talks, and some reports indicate that some stakeholders have agreed to an accompanying ceasefire. The last round of UN-brokered talks in mid-January 2016 failed due to a lack of confidence on both sides. However, Saudi and al Houthi officials have since convened their first round of direct talks and have had some success de-escalating border tensions and facilitating aid delivery in northern Yemen.
- Amnesty International called for the United States and the United Kingdom to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia in March 22 statement. The group cited the high number civilian casualties in Yemen and reports that the Saudi-led coalition used illegal cluster munitions. International organizations and observers have accused both the Saudi-led coalition and the al Houthi-Saleh alliance of causing disproportionate civilian casualties in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.
- Snipers in Taiz city killed a prominent Yemeni photojournalist and three other journalists on March 21. Fighting in Taiz has accelerated over ten days following a coalition-backed offensive in the western part of the city and an al Houthi-Saleh counterattack.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces captured 24 suspected al Shabaab militants in a raid on an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Mogadishu on March 21. The security forces also seized an unknown number of grenades and assault rifles. The IDP camp was located near the Somali Parliament building.
- The Puntland Minister of Information, Mohamud Hassan So’adde, claimed that Puntland Defense Forces (PDF) killed 70 al Shabaab militants in the Suuj Valley area of Nugaal region, Somalia during the past week. The militants are likely part of the al Shabaab force that landed in Gara’ad town by boat on March 14 before moving north into the Nugaal region. Minister So’adde claimed that PDF forces arrested 30 additional militants during clearing operations, which are ongoing. Suspected al Shabaab members detained by the PDF, many of them young teenagers, claimed that the group lured them to northern Somalia with promises of education and jobs in Yemen.
- Interim Southwest Administration (ISWA) forces detained a town elder accused of spying for al Shabaab in Dinsor, Bay region, Somalia on March 22. The man has been arrested in the past and had publicly renounced his affiliation with al Shabaab, but a Somali military source said that the suspect continued to pass information to the group.