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: Nationwide ceasefire to begin April 10 in advance of April 18 peace talks in Kuwait; pro-al Houthi forces launch rockets at Kufal military base in Sirwah, Ma’rib; UN WFP warns of impending famine in nearly half of Yemen; al Houthi authorities detain wounded pro-Hadi militiamen at Sana’a airport
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants seize Afbarwaqo town in Mudug region; KDF forces launch airstrikes in Jubbaland region; U.S. approves sale of five Huey helicopters to KDF
Yemen Security Brief
- UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced on March 23 that a nationwide ceasefire is scheduled to begin on April 10. Peace talks among Yemen’s warring parties will begin on April 18 in Kuwait. The talks will address the withdrawal of armed forces, disarmament measures, transitional security arrangements, the rehabilitation of government functions, and the formation of a joint committee on prisoners and detainees. The UN Security Council praised the announcement and called on all parties to halt fighting and resume negotiations. The announcement follows weeks of reported direct negotiations between al Houthi and Saudi officials in Saudi Arabia, accompanied by a reduction of tensions along the Saudi-Yemeni border. The last round of UN-led talks, held in January 2016, broke down when both sides failed to achieve preliminary confidence-building measures.
- Al Houthi forces and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly launched a barrage of Katyusha rockets at the Kufal army base in eastern Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on March 23. Pro-al Houthi media claimed the attack as a success, reporting casualties and a fire at the base.
- The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned of impending famine in nearly half of Yemen’s 22 governorates, amid a growing food crisis and ongoing devaluation of the Yemeni rial. The WFP classifies 10 of Yemen’s 22 governorates at an “emergency” level of food insecurity, one step below “famine.” WFP recently established a food voucher program in Sana’a to improve the population’s access to basic foodstuffs.
- Al Houthi authorities detained a number of militia fighters allied with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi after their plane landed at Sana’a International Airport on March 24, according to reports. The plane was reportedly bound from Jordan, where the Hadi government has sought to secure medical treatment for anti-al Houthi fighters. The flight changed course to Sana’a after weather conditions prevented its landing at Sayun Airport in central Hadramawt governorate.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants seized Afbarwaqo town on the outskirts of Galkayo city in Somalia’s Mudug region on March 23. Galmudug Federal State security forces protecting the town reportedly withdrew from their positions as the militants arrived. Galmudug Federal State security forces also detained 30 al Shabaab militants, described by officials as mostly young teenagers, in Galkayo town on March 24. At least some of the militants near Galkayo may part of a larger al Shabaab force that landed at Gara’ad in Mudug region on March 14 and met resistance from the Puntland Defense Forces (PDF), who killed or captured 150 militants in the area on March 20.
- Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) fighter planes conducted air strikes on al Shabaab positions near the towns of Jilib and Badhadhe in Jubbaland region, Somalia on March 23. Jilib is al Shabaab’s principle stronghold in southern Somalia and it is believed that the group’s leadership frequently visits the area.
- The United States approved the sale of five UH-1H Huey helicopters to the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) for continued anti-al Shabaab operations in Somalia. The Huey is a general- purpose helicopter that can transport up to 12 troops at one time. Anonymous sources claimed that the helicopters will deploy to Somalia to support anti-al Shabaab operations there.
 Michelle Nichols, “Yemen combat to halt April 10, a week before peace talks: U.N.,” Reuters, March 23, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-idUSKCN0WP2EA; and Farnaz Fassihi, “Saudis, Rebels Forge Yemen Cease-Fire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/yemen-ceasefire-announced-by-special-u-n-envoy-1458761957.
 “Missile force of the army and the popular committees targeting mercenary gathering at Kufal base,” Saba News, March 23, 2016, http://sabanews.net/ar/news423141.htm.
 AbdulRahman al Ansi, “Famine threatens half of Yemen: WFP,” Reuters, March 23, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-food-idUSKCN0WP16F.
 “The forced landing of a Yemenia plane at Sana’a airport and the al Houthis arrest resistance wounded on board,” Barakish, March 24, 2016, http://barakish.net/news02.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=394828.
 “Al shabaab fighters take village near Galkayo city.” Shabelle News, March 23, 2016, http://shabellenews.com/?p=27860; “Galmudug forces detain 30 Al shabaab suspects in Galkayo,” Shabelle News, March 24, 2016, http://shabellenews.com/?p=27890. .
 Maalik Som, “Kenyan army jets launch airstrike on Al Shabaab base,” Shabelle News, March 24, 2016, http://shabellenews.com/?p=27895. “Galmudug forces detain 30 Al shabaab suspects in Galkayo,” Shabelle News, March 24, 2016, http://shabellenews.com/?p=27890.
 Adow Mohahmed, “US to supply Kenya with five helicopters for war on al Shabaab,”The Star, March 23, 2016, http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2016/03/23/us-to-supply-kenya-with-five-helicopters-for-war-on-al-shabaab_c1319033.