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: UN Special Envoy for Yemen proposes National Salvation Government; coalition airstrikes target AQAP in Lahij; coalition conducts airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sana’a and al Jawf

Horn of Africa: KDF forces kill 21 al Shabaab militants and seize arms in Hawina, Dhobley, Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab attacks SNA base in El Wak on Somali-Kenyan border; AMISOM and SNA forces intervene in clan clash in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; SNA members clash over land disputes in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has reportedly proposed a transitional “National Salvation Government” as part of the ongoing UN-led talks in Kuwait. The proposal outlines what it describes as a consensual and inclusive government to take over following the withdrawal of al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh from the capital Sana’a. Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s proposal incorporates the priority demands of both sides. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation insists on full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis to surrender heavy weaponry to the state and withdraw from captured territories, while the al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) delegation has prioritized an agreement on a consensus transitional government. President Hadi’s delegation met with Ould Cheikh Ahmed on May 24 to discuss mechanisms to oversee the transition. The head of the al Houthi delegation at the UN-led peace talks announced on May 24 that al Houthi authorities in Sana’a would move to form a new government should the Kuwait talks stall. The UN Special Envoy announced that the parties are drawing closer to an agreement and is to deliver a closed briefing to the UN Security Council on May 25. The two delegations also met on May 24 in a joint committee on prisoners and detainees and discussed mechanisms for a prisoner release. The joint committee previously considered a proposal for both sides to release half their prisoners and detainees before the beginning of Ramadan on June 5.[1]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) positions near al Hawta, Lahij governorate on May 25. The strikes targeted a weapons store, military equipment, and the home of one of the suspected militants. Coalition-backed forces began clearing operations in Lahij governorate on April 15 and declared the governorate liberated on April 28, though operations continue against militants in the area.[2]
  • Coalition airstrikes targeted reported al Houthi-Saleh reinforcements in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate and in al Maslub and al Ghayl districts in al Jawf governorate on May 24. Airstrikes and ground engagements have escalated over the past week as both sides retaliate for perceived violations of the UN-backed ceasefire, which began on April 10.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) reportedly killed 21 al Shabaab militants in Hawina, Dhobley, Lower Jubba region on May 24 and seized 17 AK-47 assault rifles, five rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and other ammunition from the group. The KDF retaliated after an al Shabaab militant fired on KDF forces traveling from Dhobley to Taabta. KDF troops patrolled the area following the shooting and engaged al Shabaab militants who were reportedly planning to ambush the KDF along the road to Taabta. KDF forces claimed to kill junior level al Shabaab commander Salad Bart, who reportedly led 60 militants operating outside of Dhobley. The KDF suffered no casualties, according to its spokesman. An al Shabaab spokesman said the militants killed five KDF soldiers, wounded eight, and burned a military vehicle, however. A Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military convoy repulsed an ambush by al Shabaab militants in Dhobley on May 24.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a ground assault with light weapons on a Somalia National Army (SNA) base in El Wak, a divided city on the Somali-Kenyan border on May 25, killing four SNA soldiers and three al Shabaab members. The militants arrived in pickup trucks in El Wak before traveling to the SNA base, according to residents.[5]
  • Djiboutian AMISOM troops and SNA forces halted a clan clash in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on May 24. AMISOM troops entered the Howlwadag, Beledweyne on May 19 in an effort to halt clashes that began on May 17 and have since killed 34 people and wounded at least 40.[6]
  • SNA members exchanged fire on May 24 over land disputes in Mo’alin Nur neighborhood, Mogadishu, killing at least two people and wounding two others. SNA members have clashed intermittently over land in Mogadishu for the past few weeks.[7]

[1] Yemen peace talks 'closer' to agreement: UN envoy,” Agence France Presse, May 25, 2016,; “The government delegation submits its vision on the formation of committees to oversee the operation of withdrawal and surrender of arms,” Barakish, May 24, 2016,; “The al Houthis threaten to form a government in the event the Kuwait talks stall,” Al Masdar, May 25, 2016,; and Mohammed Abdul Salam, Twitter, May 24, 2016,
[2] “Intensive strikes on al Qaeda positions in the area of al Hawta city,” Barakish, May 25, 2016,
[3] “The coalition strikes al Houthi reinforcements in Nihm and al Jawf,” Barakish, May 24, 2016,
[4] “KDF kills 21 al-Shabaab fighters in an ambush in Hawina area, Somalia,” Shabelle News, May 25, 2016,; “Kenyan Defense Forces kill al-Shabaab Commander Salad Bart,” Uganda Daily Eye, May 25, 2016,; and Kenya says its troops kill 21 al Shabaab fighters in Somalia,” Reuters, May 25, 2016,
[5] Al shabaab mounts attack on army base in El Wak,” Shabelle News, May 25, 2016,
[6] “SNA and AMISOM troops intervene in inter-clan clash in central Somalia,” Goobjoog, May 25, 2016,
[7] “Two dead as Govt troops exchange gunfire in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, May 25, 2016,
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