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: Kuwait delegations expected to agree on prisoner release; SVBIED targets First Military District commander in Wadi Hadramawt; Aden authorities call for halt to deportations
Horn of Africa: SNA SOF raid al Shabaab camp in El Timir, Galgudud region; al Shabaab kills civilians for refusal to pay zakat; Ugandan police seeking two suspects in pro-ISIS anthrax plot
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation and the al Houthi-General People’s Congress (GPC) delegation are expected to agree on the release of hundreds of prisoners and detainees on May 11 as part of the ongoing UN-led peace talks in Kuwait. Hadi government delegates announced the agreement on May 10, but al Houthi representatives denied the reports, indicating the delegations had only discussed a proposal and had not formally agreed on it. The proposal reportedly calls for the release of half of each side’s prisoners within the next 20 days, before the beginning of Ramadan on June 5. The delegations recently split into three committees, one focused on political issues, another on security issues, and the third on prisoners and detainees. Disagreements persist, however, over the agenda for the talks.
- Militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting the convoy of Yemeni First Military District Commander, Major General Abdul Rahman al Halili, near al Qatan in Hadramawt governorate on May 11. The attack wounded al Halili and 15 others, and killed seven. Al Halili’s First Military District, which is responsible for Wadi Hadramawt and the surrounding areas, recently declared the Wadi clear of militants after clearing operations lasting approximately a week. Both al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) operate in Wadi Hadramawt.
- Authorities in Aden halted an operation to deport purportedly illegal residents from the city on May 11. The Supreme Security Council of Aden Governorate issued a statement declaring its compliance with the directives of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr to stop the deportation of non-Adenis, the majority of them citizens of northern governorates. The Council announced it would provide residents not charged with serious crimes an opportunity to retrieve the documentation necessary to prove their residency, rather than expelling them from the city immediately, as occurred May 8-11. The statement emphasized the security measures are not intended to target citizens of any particular region or governorates. Deportations have reportedly continued, however, despite the statement. Aden police and security forces began the operation on May 8, allegedly aiming to secure Aden after an increase in militant attacks. The forces overwhelmingly targeted northerners, leading to suspicions the operation had Southern nationalist motivations. Aden Governor Aydarus al Zubaidi reportedly expressed support for the deportations in a forthcoming interview with London-based paper Al Hayat. Al Zubaidi also emphasized that the operation does not target only northerners, but also citizens of other southern governorates like Shabwah and Hadramawt.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali National Army (SNA) special operations forces (SOF) reportedly killed 15 al Shabaab militants during a raid on a training camp in El Timir village near Gal’ad in Galgudud region on May 11. An SNA spokesperson claimed that commandos killed three mid-level commanders during the raid. Somali SOF conducted a similar nighttime raid with U.S. assistance on May 10 in Lower Shabelle region. There was no mention of foreign involvement in the May 11 raid, however.
- Al Shabaab militants killed four civilians in Gamboole town, Middle Shabelle region on May 11 after they refused to pay a zakat or religious tax to the group. The civilians shot at militants who demanded cattle as a payment. The militants then killed the civilians and seized control of the town. Somali herders killed militants for attempting to collect zakat in Mudug region in late February.
- Ugandan authorities are seeking two suspected members of a pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) terror cell that may have entered Uganda in an attempt to escape from Kenya. Kenyan and Ugandan police arrested Ahmed Hish and Farah Dagane’s accomplices last week, which prompted the men to flee Nairobi. The five-person cell reportedly attempted to weaponize anthrax as part of a terror plot in Nairobi. Ugandan authorities are arraigning two members who were apprehended in Kampala, Uganda.