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: Russian Foreign Minister emphasizes commitment to supporting Yemeni peace process; demonstrators protest fuel shortages in Sana’a; Yemen’s Aden-based Central bank denies postponement of Saudi financial deposit and relocation to Jordan; ISIS Wilayat Green Brigade claims second attack in Ibb governorate; ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan assassinates two Hadi government soldiers in Aden
Horn of Africa: Ethiopian opposition accuses ruling party of rigging state of emergency vote; SNA and AMISOM recapture Bal’ad, Middle Shabelle region from al Shabaab; AMISOM contributors call for extension of mandate in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Moscow maintains regular contact with stakeholders in Yemen and intends to continue supporting the UN-led peace process during an interview on March 3. Lavrov explained Yemeni factions’ refusal to engage in a constructive dialogue as the greatest challenge to a political resolution. Lavrov also stated that the UN, whose role Russia “traditionally view[s] as central,” should continue its attempts to deescalate the fighting and persuade Yemeni belligerents to negotiate. Lavrov has previously communicated Russia’s interest in facilitating Yemeni negotiations.
Demonstrators protested fuel shortages and black market inflation of fuel prices in front of the secretariat building in al Houthi movement. Al Houthi forces fired shots in the air to disperse protesters, according to anti-al Houthi media. Al Houthi official media reported that the demonstrations took place in front of the UN office in Sana’a and that protesters condemned the Saudi-led coalition for blocking imports. Al Houthi officials discussed measures to alleviate the fuel shortage on March 5.on March 3 and 4. Demonstrators blocked streets, burned tires, and reportedly chanted slogans against the
Yemen’s Aden-based Central Bank denied reports that Saudi Arabia postponed a $2 billion deposit and that the Central Bank will be relocating to Amman, Jordan on March 3. Local sources reported that the new governor for Yemen’s Aden-based Central Bank Mohammed Zemman was already in Amman preparing for the relocation of the Central Bank on March 1. Local sources also reported that Saudi Arabia postponed a $2 billion deposit into Yemen’s Aden-based Central Bank on March 1.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Liwa al Akhdar (Green Brigade) claimed its second improvised explosive device (IED) attack in 2018 against al Houthi forces in al Sha’ir district, , central Yemen on March 2. ISIS previously claimed its militants detonated an IED targeting al Houthi forces on February 18. ISIS Wilayat Liwa al Akhdar last conducted an attack in January 2017 near the al Bayda-Ibb governorate border.
ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan assassinated two Hadi government soldiers in , Aden on March 4. ISIS militants conducted a complex suicide attack targeting a counterterrorism headquarters in al Tawahi district, Aden on February 26.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Ethiopian opposition parliamentarians accused the ruling party of rigging the vote of the ratification of the state of emergency on March 2. Ethiopian parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda contradicted Ethiopian state media reports of the vote count. The state-run Ethiopian News Agency reported 395 votes in favor of the measure. Footage from the Addis Standard later showed Gemeda announcing only 346 votes. Gemeda apologized on March 4, saying he miscalculated and claimed that the vote met the two-thirds threshold needed to pass the ratification as reported by state media. Oromo activists initiated a three-day shutdown in response to the vote, closing offices and roads in various cities in the Oromia region on March 5. Security forces responded by killing at least seven protesters and injuring over 20 others in the Oromia region. The Ethiopian ruling party is expected to elect a new prime minister this week to replace Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned on February 15 following months of anti-government protests in the Oromia region.
Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured Bal’ad town, , central Somalia from al Shabaab militants on March 2. Al Shabaab briefly seized Bal’ad on March 2. Al Shabaab militants released prisoners in Bal’ad and looted equipment from the town’s only radio station, which had covered al Shabaab negatively. Al Shabaab attempted a counterattack with direct and indirect fire against SNA and AMISOM forces on March 4. Bal’ad is a strategic town located about 20 miles north of Mogadishu that connects the capital to central Somalia.
Leaders of AMISOM’s Troop-Contributing Countries (TCCs) called on the UN Security Council to extend AMISOM’s mandate during a TCC summit in Kampala, Uganda on March 3. The AMISOM TCCs are Uganda, Djibouti, Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia. TCC leaders and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo warned that AMISOM’s withdrawal from Somalia would allow al Shabaab to reverse AMISOM’s recent advances against the group. TCC leaders unanimously called for the reconsideration of UN Security Council Resolution 2372 (2017), which scheduled AMISOM to begin withdrawing troops in 2018. The leaders called for the UN to restore AMISOM to previous troop levels. AMISOM has withdrawn about 500 troops from Somalia since the passage of UNSCR 2372. The entire AMISOM contingent of over 20,000 troops is scheduled to withdraw in 2020.
 “‘We plan to create an Ethiopian center for nuclear science and technologies,’” The Reporter Ethiopia, March 3, 2018, http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/we-plan-create-ethiopian-center-nuclear-science-and-technologies; and “Lavrov calls on international community to encourage Yemeni factions to dialogue,” TASS, March 3, 2018, http://tass.com/politics/992619.
 “Protests against Houthi militia continue for second day in Yemen’s Sanaa,” Al Arabiya, March 4, 2018, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/03/04/Protests-against-Houthi-militia-continue-for-second-day-in-Yemen-s-Sanaa.html; “Angry protesters cut off a number of streets in Sana'a, denouncing the lack of domestic gas,” Al Masdar, March 4, 2018, http://almasdaronline.com/article/97420; “A protest condemning countries of the aggression cutting off gas supplies and diesel,” Saba News, March 5, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news489428.htm; “Sanaa protests shake the Huthis,” Ababiil, March 5, 2018, https://ababiil.net/yemen-news/164921.html; and “Council representatives discuss an oil derivatives solution and the gas crisis,” Saba News, February 5, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news489429.htm.
 “The Central Bank of Yemen denied the news of the postponement of the deposit by Saudi Arabia,” Saba New, March 3, 2018, http://sabanew.net/viewstory.php?id=29798; and “ The Central Bank of Yemen reveals the truth of the news of the postponement of the deposit and the validity of the news of the transfer of its activity from Aden,” Aden Post, March 2, 2018, http://adenpst.info/news/60092/.
 “Islamic State claims 9th op this year and 2nd in Ibb,” Twitter, March 2, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/969631945566113792; and “ISIS attacks al Houthi forces in Ash Shair district, Ibb,” Twitter, March 2, 2018, https://twitter.com/MaherFarrukh/status/969693968530399233.
 “Sleeping cells reappear in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, March 4, 2018, http://adengd.net/news/305977/; “IS Publishes photos of Assassinating Two Yemeni Soldiers on City Street in Aden in Daylight,” Site Intel Group, March 4, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/is-publishes-photos-of-assassinating-two-yemeni-soldiers-on-city-street-in-aden-in-daylight.html; and “ISIS Wilaya Aden-Abyan assassinates two soldiers IVO al Mansoura, Aden,” Twitter, March 4, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/970268625620914176.
 “Dispute over Ethiopia emergency rule vote after footage posted online,” Reuters, March 2, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-politics/dispute-over-ethiopia-emergency-rule-vote-after-footage-posted-online-idUSKCN1GE1XJ; “Under a new state of emergency, Ethiopia is on the brink of crisis, again,” Washington Post, March 3, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/under-a-new-state-of-emergency-ethiopia-is-on-the-brink-of-crisis-again/2018/03/03/5a887156-1d8f-11e8-98f5-ceecfa8741b6_story.html?utm_term=.8b5facea307e; “Video: Did Ethiopian Parliament Rig the State of Emergency vote?,” Addis Standard, March 3, 2018, https://addisstandard.com/video-did-ethiopian-parliament-rig-the-state-of-emergency-vote/; “News: House speaker Abadula Gemeda apologizes for erring vote counting on state of emergency as decision sparks fresh protests,” Addis Standard, March 4, 2018, https://addisstandard.com/news-house-speaker-abadula-gemeda-apologizes-erring-vote-counting-state-emergency-decision-sparks-fresh-protests/; “Five People Die as Ethiopian Forces Clash With Protesters,” Bloomberg, March 5, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-05/five-people-die-as-ethiopia-security-forces-protesters-clash; “Ethiopia state of emergency vote failed – U.S. congressman insists,” Africa News, March 5, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/05/ethiopia-state-of-emergency-vote-failed-us-congressman-insists/; and “Ethiopia activists activate shutdown in Oromia to protest emergency rule,” Africa News, March 5, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/05/ethiopia-activists-activate-shutdown-in-oromia-to-protest-emergency-rule//.
 “Somali army recaptures Balad town from Al-Shabaab,” Xinhua, March 3, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/03/c_137012021.htm; “Somali troops retake Balad town from Al-Shabaab militants,” Radio Shabelle, March 3, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-troops-retake-balad-town-al-shabaab-militants/; and “Casualties Feared As Alshabaab Launches Second Attack On Bal’ad,” Radio Dalsan, March 4, 2018, http://radiodalsan.com/en/casualties-feared-as-alshabaab-launches-second-attack-on-balad/.
 “Somali President calls more support for SNA and AMISOM troops,” Radio Shabelle, March 4, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-president-calls-support-sna-amisom-troops/; “AMISOM contributing countries wrap up meeting in Kampala,” Radio Shabelle, March 3, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/amisom-contributing-countries-wrap-meeting-kampala/; “East African leaders call on UN Security Council to extend AMISOM mandate,” Radio Shabelle, March 3, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/east-african-leaders-call-un-security-council-extend-amisom-mandate/; “AMISOM Heads of State Call on UN to Reverse Troop Drawdown in Somalia,” Voice of America, March 2, 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/amison-heads-state-call-on-united-nations-reverse-troop-drawdown-somalia/4278061.html; and “‘We’re Finding It Difficult to Hold’ Territory in Somalia: Senator,” Defense One, March 2, 2018, http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2018/03/were-finding-it-difficult-hold-territory-somalia-senator/146376/.