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:  Yemen’s factions prepare to mark one year anniversary of coalition campaign; coalition airstrikes target suspected AQAP militants in al Hawta, Lahij governorate; U.S. and Russian officials express support for scheduled ceasefire and UN-sponsored peace talks

Horn of Africa: King Abdullah says Jordanian Special Forces embedded with British SAS team in Kenya; Kenyan police arrest suspected al Shabaab member at Kenyan-Tanzanian border in Kajiado County, Kenya; SNA and AMISOM forces conduct clearing operations in Wajid, Bakool region, Somalia; Puntland police detain 156 suspected al Shabaab members in Boosaaso in past week

Yemen Security Brief

  • All sides in Yemen’s conflict are preparing to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen. Supporters of the Saudi-led coalition will hold a rally in Taiz on March 26 while al Houthi-Saleh supporters have planned separate demonstrations in the capital, Sana’a. Al Houthi officials reportedly directed government workers and students to boycott a rally organized by the General People’s Congress (GPC), which is led by former Yemeni president and current al Houthi military ally Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al Houthis supporters are organizing a separate demonstration and have both criticized the GPC for failing to hold a joint event and spread rumors that the GPC’s rally will be the target of a terrorist attack. Pro-Saleh forces will provide security for the GPC event. Tensions between the al Houthis and Saleh’s supporters are rising as factions position themselves for upcoming negotiations. Large crowds are currently gathering in the city. [1]
  • Reported coalition helicopters bombed a home occupied by suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Hawta, Lahij governorate on March 24. Another airstrike targeted the house of a separate militant in Rabat in northeastern Lahij. No casualties have been reported. The Saudi-led coalition began a limited air campaign on AQAP positions in southern Yemen, including al Hawta, following the group’s seizure of the city on January 25.[2]
  • U.S. and Russian officials voiced their support for the scheduled cessation of hostilities and UN-brokered peace talks among Yemen’s warring parties, scheduled for April 10 and 18 respectively. Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications to the Secretary of State Marie Harf expressed the United States’ hope that the cessation of hostilities would facilitate the delivery of much-needed aid. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova emphasized Russia’s support for the ceasefire and the talks, as well as its support for relevant national and international agreements. Both the United States and Russia support the UN-sponsored peace process and the implementation of UN Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis to disarm and withdraw from captured territories.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Jordanian King Abdullah II announced that elements of Jordanian Special Forces are embedded with a British Special Air Service (SAS) team as part of a rapid deployment force based in Kenya. The force will conduct cross-border operations to combat al Shabaab in Somalia.[4]
  • Kenyan Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers arrested a Ugandan al Shabaab suspect at the Kenya-Tanzania border crossing near Namanga in Kajiado County, Kenya on March 25. CID officers found pictures detailing methods al Shabaab uses to carry out executions as well as the group’s flag in the suspect’s belongings.[5]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops conducted clearing operations against al Shabaab in Wajid town in Somalia’s Bakool region. The SNA commander for the region said that the goal was to arrest or drive out the militants before securing the town against future incursions by the group. He also said that the Wajid operation was part of a larger initiative against the al Shabaab presence in the Bakool region.[6]
  • Puntland police forces reportedly arrested 156 suspected al Shabaab members in and around the port city of Boosaaso during the past week. The Bari regional police commander said that the suspects were arrested at hotels, outlying villages, and vehicle checkpoints in response to several attacks carried out by al Shabaab militants since March 14.[7] 
[1] Frank Gardner, “No end in sight to war in Yemen,” BBC, March 25,2016,; “Taiz surprises everyone and responds to the al Houthi-Saleh demonstrations with this announcement,” Samapress, March 25,2016,; Mohammed Basha, Twitter, March 25, 2016,;  and Mohammed Basha, Twitter, March 25,2016,
[2] “Apache shells house of al Qaeda leaders in south Yemen,” Al Masda, March 25, 2016,
[3] “The United States announces its position on the Yemeni peace talks,” Barakish, March 25, 2016, and “Briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 24, 2016,” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, March 24, 2016,
[4] Rori Donaghy REVEALED: UK and Jordanian special forces target al-Shabab in Somalia, Middle East Eye, March 25, 2016,
[5] “Al Shabaab suspect arrested at Namanga border,” Shabelle News, March 25, 2016,
[6] “Somali and AU troops push militants out of fresh areas in Bakool,” Shabelle News, March 25, 2016,
[7] “Somali police arrest Al-Shabaab suspects in Puntland,” Hiiraan News, March 25, 2016,  
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