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: International officials attempt to restart Kuwait talks; AQAP reportedly agrees to begin withdrawal from Zinjibar under pressure from local mediators; Iranian Embassy in Kuwait denies assisting al Houthi-GPC delegation
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants shell Halane Training Facility in Waberi district, Mogadishu; SNA special operations forces raid rumored pro-ISIS training camp near Janale, Lower Shabelle; al Shabaab militants target AMISOM convoy with IED in Heliwa district, Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- International officials met with the Yemeni delegations in Kuwait in an effort to restart direct talks between Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation and the al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation. The Hadi government’s delegation suspended the talks on May 1 after al Houthi forces and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh seized a military base in Amran governorate, northwest of the capital Sana’a, on April 30. President Hadi’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi, declared that the government’s delegation will not participate in any further direct or indirect talks until al Houthi-Saleh forces withdraw from the base. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdul Latif al Zayani met with President Hadi, and UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, met with both delegations on May 2 and 3 in an effort to relaunch the talks. The al Houthi and GPC delegation also met with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al Jarallah. Both delegations remain in Kuwait.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) agreed to begin withdrawing fighters from Zinjibar, Abyan governorate on May 3, according to breaking reports. AQAP previously reinforced positions in western Abyan governorate on May 3 ahead of a planned government offensive but later agreed to begin withdrawing its forces after further negotiations with local mediators. The group reportedly agreed on April 30 to withdraw from Zinjibar on the condition that government forces not enter the city and that the local militias not resume their activities in the area. AQAP also sought guarantees that its members would remain immune from future prosecution. Local mediators gave the group three days to withdraw before a clearing operation on May 3, but agreed to offer the group an extension to avert a costly battle. Government forces launched an operation to clear AQAP from Zinjibar and nearby Ja’ar on April 23 but withdrew in the face of intense resistance by AQAP fighters.
- The Iranian Embassy in Kuwait denied reports that it sent an official to assist the al Houthi-GPC delegation in the ongoing UN-brokered peace talks, in a statement on May 3. The embassy criticized Saudi media outlet Al Watan for its April 30 story on the alleged contact. Iran has provided limited support to the al Houthi movement and its allies throughout the ongoing civil war.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants launched mortar shells at the Halane Training Facility in Waberi District, Mogadishu on May 2. An African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) spokesperson confirmed that no facility personnel were injured in the attack. An al Shabaab radio message said that the attack was intended to spread panic among newly arrived British peacekeepers and their AMISOM counterparts. Halane is AMISOM’s Somalia headquarters and hosts the diplomatic missions of several foreign countries.
- Somali National Army (SNA) special operations forces (SOF) attacked and overran a militant training camp outside Janale, Lower Shabelle region on May 3. Operations to capture fleeing militants are reportedly ongoing. An anonymous source who took part in the raid claimed that the militants present at the camp were affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), but this claim remains unsubstantiated. Pro-ISIS militants claimed an IED attack on an AMISOM convoy in Mogadishu on April 25. A major ISIS presence in southern Somalia, if confirmed, would be significant as a possible challenge to al Shabaab’s dominance in the region.
- Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an AMISOM supply convoy near a security checkpoint in Heliwa district, Mogadishu on May 2. The explosion destroyed one vehicle and caused an unknown number of casualties.