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: Al Houthi-GPC delegation suspends meetings with UN Special Envoy, citing coalition airstrikes and U.S. troop presence in southern Yemen; southern security forces evict hundreds of northern Yemenis from Aden; southern militia forces arrest Hadhrami Domestic Council member for ties to AQAP

Horn of Africa:  Al Shabaab militants conduct complex attack with SVBIED on traffic police headquarters in Shangani District, Mogadishu; Washington Post investigates NISA exploitation of former child militants; regional security forces overrun al Shabaab base near Qansahdhere, Bay region; suspected al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM outpost in Heliwa District, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • The al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation refused to attend a meeting with UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Kuwait on May 8. The al Houthi-GPC delegation accused the Saudi-led coalition of launching airstrikes on al Houthi forces in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation and al Houthi-GPC delegation suspended direct talks on May 7, citing a lack of progress. The al Houthi-GPC delegation demands the withdrawal of U.S. forces operating in the south against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and continues to demand a consensus on forming a transnational government prior to the disarmament of its forces. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that meetings will resume on May 9.[1]
  • Southern security forces arrested and expelled hundreds of citizens from Taiz and other northern Yemeni cities in Aden on May 8. Security forces likely aligned with the secessionist Southern Movement, raided homes and civilian establishments and reportedly arrested more than 2,000 citizens, citing security threats. President Hadi criticized the operation, and Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr called on Aden’s governor and security chief to exercise control over forces under their command. The Supreme Security Council of Aden Governorate released a statement on May 8 explaining that the operation aims to secure the city by cracking down on residents without proper identification, pointing to a recent series of attacks on military and security forces in Aden. The statement emphasized that the operation is not targeting citizens of any particular region or governorate. Southern militiamen, including separatists, joined government armed forces and security forces after driving al Houthi-Saleh forces from Aden in July 2015.[2]
  • Southern militia forces arrested Hadhrami Domestic Council (HDC) member Abdullah al Yazidi at his home in Ghayl Ba Wazir, Hadramawt governorate on May 9 on charges of supporting AQAP’s affiliate Ansar al Sharia. The militia reportedly transferred al Yazidi to a military barracks at the al Mukalla airport. The HDC loosely governed al Mukalla while AQAP and Ansar al Sharia controlled the city, from April 2015 until their withdrawal in late April 2016. Al Yazidi was one of two HDC officials chosen to reconstitute the council after over half of its members resigned in December 2015 and January 2016.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack on the traffic police headquarters in Shangani District, Mogadishu on May 9. A militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at a security gate and entered the compound, killing three people and wounding at least 15. . Police officers killed two attackers. Al Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the attack.[4]
  • The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency’s (NISA) has allegedly coerced underage former al Shabaab members to identify active militants across Somalia for several years, according to a Washington Post investigation. The article states that NISA officers would escort children as young as 10 years old to al Shabaab areas of operation in order to identify known members of the group. The NISA officers often obscured their own identities but did not cover the children's faces. The UN and human rights groups criticized this practice and likened it to using child soldiers. A senior NISA official claimed that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had knowledge of the operations, saying “there’s nothing NISA does that the CIA doesn’t know about.” The CIA declined to comment on the accusations.[5]
  • Interim Southwest Administration (ISWA) security forces attacked an al Shabaab base outside Qansahdhere village in Bay region on May 7. The ISWA commander said that troops attacked killed three fighters in the operation. Al Shabaab militants killed one ISWA soldier.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outpost in Heliwa District, Mogadishu on May 7. Combatants engaged in an hourlong firefight before AMISOM troops launched mortars at the attackers, forcing them to withdraw.[7]

[1] “Yemen peace talks struggle as air strikes shake truce,” Reuters, May 8, 2016,; Yemeni peace talks postponed indefinitely,” Al Arabiya, May 8, 2016,; “UN envoy bids to break Yemen peace talks impasse,” Agence France-Presse, May 8, 2016,; and “UN evnoy urges concessions to save Yemen peace talks,” May 9, 2016,     
[2][2] Ahmed Al-Haj, “Yemeni officials say pro-government forces in the southern port city of Aden are detaining and evicting to the north hundred of civilians,” Associated Press, May 8, 2016,; “Yemen president criticises expulsions from Aden,” Gulf News, May 9, 2016,; “The Supreme Security Council in Aden Governorate responds and clarifies the matter of the expulsion of sons of the north from Aden and issues a ‘statement,’ Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, May 8, 2016,; Mohammed Basha, Twitter, May 8, 2016,; and Mohammed Basha, Twitter, May 8, 2016,     
[3] “Imposition of house arrest on a religious man accused having ties with al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” May 9, 2016,; “Commander in the Southern Movement arrests Salafi Sheikh Abdullah al Yazidi from the city of al Mukalla,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, May 9, 2016,
[4] “Car bomb hits police HQ in Mogadishu, kills four,” Shabelle News, May 9, 2016,; “Death toll in traffic police HQs rises to sox, 15 others admitted to Medina Hospital,” Goobjoog News, May 9, 2016, and “Al shabaab claims credit for Car bomb attack in Mogadishu,” May 9, 2016,  
[6]“Four people killed in fighting between Southwest forces and Al Shabaab, officials say.” Goobjoog News, May 9, 2016,  
[7] “Suspected militants attack AMISOM army base in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, May 8, 2016,
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