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: Yemeni government’s delegation suspends participation in Kuwait peace talks; government and popular resistance forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Lawder, Abyan governorate; al Dhaleh leaders denounce Aden’s ban on qat

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Bardhere airport, Gedo region; al Shabaab militants behead man for espionage outside Bulobarde, Hiraan region; al Shabaab Hiraan region governor claims responsibility for May 16 Halgan base attacks; Turkish Airlines resumes service to Mogadishu with separate security procedures

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation suspended its participation in the ongoing UN-led peace talks in Kuwait on May 17, citing the al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) delegation’s failure to agree on the principles and frameworks governing the talks. The Hadi government’s delegation seeks full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis to surrender heavy weaponry and withdraw from captured territories, while the al Houthi-GPC delegation has called for an agreement on a consensus transitional government before discussing other issues, including the terms of Resolution 2216. Third parties have reportedly advanced informal proposals for a unity government to include elements of the Hadi government and the al Houthis. The government previously suspended its participation in the talks on May 1 after al Houthi forces and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh seized a military base in northwestern Amran governorate.[1]
  • Government forces and allied popular resistance militias clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Lawder city in northern Abyan governorate on May 15 and May 16. The clashes are the first reported between government and al Houthi-Saleh forces in the area since government forces reclaimed Lawder in August 2015.[2]
  • Tribal, military, and community leaders in southern al Dhaleh governorate denounced a recent ban on weekday sales of the mild narcotic qat in Aden governorate in a May 16 statement. The statement called the recent ban tyrannical and an attack on the livelihood of citizens of al Dhaleh. Aden’s government banned the sale of qat except for the Yemeni weekend, which falls on Thursday and Friday, citing traffic toward and around qat markets as an impediment to daily life and ongoing security operations. The government of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen imposed the same ban until Yemen’s unification in 1990.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked the airport in Bardhere, Gedo region with small arms and mortars on May 16. Somali National Army (SNA) and Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops stationed at the airport repulsed the attack, killing at least six militants and capturing two others. SNA and AMISOM forces conducted house-to-house searches for militants following the attack.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants beheaded a man near Bulobarde, Hiraan region on May 17 for spying for SNA and Ethiopian troops in the area. This incident comes one day after al Shabaab beheaded four village elders for espionage near Adan-Yabaal, 75 km east of Bulobarde.[5]
  • Al Shabaab governor for Hiraan region Sheikh Guled Abu Nabhan claimed responsibility for the May 16 attack on the SNA and AMISOM bases at Halgan, Hiraan region. Nabhan said that militants killed six SNA soldiers and captured 20 others as well as numerous vehicles and other supplies. SNA and AMISOM officials have not confirmed their losses from the attack but claimed to have killed a number of militants.[6]
  • Turkish Airlines resumed operations out of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport on May 16, using a separate security screening system in order to thwart bombing plots. The first Turkish Airlines plane to land in Mogadishu carried operations personnel, screening machines, and other security devices. Turkish Airlines temporarily suspended service to Mogadishu after al Shabaab attempted to bomb one of its airliners on February 2. The passengers were diverted onto Daallo Airlines Flight 159, aboard which an al Shabaab suicide bomber detonated a laptop bomb, killing himself and forcing the plane to land.[7]
[1] “Standstill in Yemen peace talks as government withdraws again,” The New Arab, May 17, 2016,; and Arafat Madabish, “Government Reservation About International Proposal For Rebel Participation in a Unity Government,” Asharq Al-Awsat, May 17, 2016,  
[2] “Violent battles in Aqbat Tharah in Lawder in Abyan,” Barakish, May 16, 2016,
[3] “Statement by the sons of al Dhaleh: Prohibition of qat in Aden is declaration of war on our life and the fools will come to regret it,” Al Masdar, May 17, 2016,; “ Yemen bans Qat on week days in Aden,” The National, May 16, 2016,
[4] “Bardere airport comes under fire, 6 militants killed,” Shabelle News, May 16, 2016, and “Somalia: Ethiopian troops conduct security sweep in Gedo,” Shabelle News, May 17, 2016,
[5] “Al shabaab beheads man in central Somalia,” Shabelle News, May 17, 2016,
[6] “At least 6 soldiers killed, 20 injured in Somalia attack,” Shabelle News, May 17, 2016,
[7] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Turkish Airline To Set Own Separate Security System At Mogadishu Airport,” Intelligence Briefs, May 17 , 2016,  
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