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: U.S. may supply combat aircraft to Yemeni government; Yemeni security forces free Western hostages in Sana’a; UN Security Council and al Islah party condemn recent attack in Hadramawt
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and Somali forces seize town in Galgudud region from al Shabaab; roadside IED targets AMISOM convoy in Lower Jubba region; Kenyan government directive restricts Somali refugees to refugee camps
Yemen Security Brief
- A United States Central Command (CENTCOM) memo written on March 3, and leaked to social media outlets on March 24, indicated that the U.S. government may launch a program titled “Precision Strike,” which would provide the Yemeni military with precision-strike aircraft to support the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The aircraft may be armed with a combination of missiles and laser-guided rockets. A Pentagon spokesperson stated that the program is currently under “reassessment” by the U.S. Department of Defense and could not comment on a time frame for its implementation.
- Yemeni security forces freed two Western hostages in Sana’a city on March 25, after they were kidnapped by at least two armed gunmen earlier that day. Police sources state that the hostages, an Italian diplomat for the United Nations and his companion, were peacefully rescued by security forces. The motives behind the kidnapping remain unclear at this time.
- The United Nations Security Council issued a statement on March 25 strongly criticizing the March 24 attack on a Yemeni military checkpoint near al Reida in Hadramawt governorate by suspected AQAP militants.
- The al Islah party issued a media statement on March 25 denouncing the March 24 attack by suspected AQAP militants on a Yemeni military checkpoint near al Reida in Hadramawt governorate. This announcement comes in response to recent accusations from Yemeni tribal leaders that al Islah is both a sponsor and affiliate of AQAP. These accusations remain unsubstantiated.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Ethiopian AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) forces seized the town of Elbur in Galgudud region from al Shabaab on March 26. The al Shabaab militants fled the town without contest as AMISOM and Somali forces approached. Elbur’s liberation comes after several days of fighting between al Shabaab and allied forces in surrounding areas. At least ten people were killed during a clash between al Shabaab militants and Ethiopian AMISOM forces after the militants ambushed an Ethiopian convoy in El Qohle on March 25.
- A roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near an AMISOM convoy in Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on March 26. Although the vehicle was damaged in the explosion, the AMISOM troops operating the vehicle were unharmed. Reports indicate that the troops opened fire after the explosion, killing one civilian and injuring as many as three others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the IED attack. The incident comes after al Shabaab militants clashed with security forces near the Kismayo airport in Lower Jubba region on March 25.
- The Kenyan government ordered all Somali refugees operating in Kenya to return to either the Dadaab or Kakuma refugee camps on March 25. Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku stated that the directive is part of a government initiative to combat the security challenges facing the country, which includes the deployment of 500 additional police to Nairobi and Mombasa. The directive comes after a string of security incidents, including the arrest of two individuals transporting multiple IEDs in Mombasa on March 17, an assault by unidentified gunmen on a church near Mombasa on March 23, and the discovery of four empty ammunition boxes in a Nairobi supermarket on March 24. Furthermore, Kenyan police conducted a security operation in Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali neighborhood of Nairobi, on March 25, killing two people and detaining 476 others. Although Kenyan police identified the operation as targeting petty crime, reports indicate Somali refugees are among those detained.