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: U.S. designates Emirati company for supporting AQAP; Saudi-led coalition spokesman voices support for military solution over political solution; Hadi government reinforcements arrive in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen; WHO announces increase in cholera cases
Horn of Africa: ISIS-affiliated militants maintain control of Qandala town, Bari region; al Shabaab forces occupy Goof Gaduud town, Bay region following SNA retreat; al Shabaab militants target AMISOM convoy with IED near Mahaday town; Ethiopia reshuffles cabinet in response to growing protests by Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups
Yemen Security Brief
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the al Omgy and Brothers Money Exchange and the company’s two owners, Said Salih Abd Rabbuh al Omgy and Muhammed Salih Abd Rabbuh al Omgy, as financial supporters of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on November 1. The U.S. Treasury, in conjunction with the UAE, blocked al Omgy Exchange and the al Omgy brothers’ assets, property, and access to the American and Emirati financial sectors. AQAP used al Omgy Exchange for financial transactions beginning in December 2013. Said al Omgy fundraised and recruited Yemenis to join the Iraqi insurgency in 2005. Muhammad al Omgy engaged in weapons smuggling for AQAP in 2016. Al Omgy is publicly listed as headquartered in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, but has exchange sites across Yemen. AQAP controlled al Mukalla for one year until UAE-backed Yemeni forces retook the city in April 2016.
- Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri voiced support for efforts by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to achieve a military victory in Yemen. Brig. Gen. Asiri characterized the UN-led peace process as “disabled.” The Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh alliance rejected a revised peace proposal from the UN Special Envoy for Yemen on October 29.
- Hadi government-allied reinforcements mobilized to northern Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen from al Jawf governorate. Hadi government forces backed by coalition air support commenced operations to take control of Sa’ada governorate in mid-October. Sa’ada is a historic stronghold for the al Houthi movement. Soldiers and their families from southern Yemen are expressing increasing opposition to the operations in northern Yemen, which are not seen to support southern Yemeni interests.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) in Yemen announced on November 1 that suspected cholera cases in Yemen have risen to 2070, increasing by more than 600 cases since WHO’s October 29 report. Most reported cases are in Aden, Taiz, al Hudaydah, and Hajjah governorates. The WHO began training programs for medical professionals and is supporting a campaign of water treatment across Yemen. There are currently more than three million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen due to the civil war. IDPs living in improvised camps are more susceptible to the outbreak due to insufficient food, lack of clean water, and poor hygiene services. The civil war has destroyed significant portions of Yemen’s infrastructure, including medical facilities. The WHO stated that it has had difficulty detecting and confirming cholera cases in Yemen due to poor funding and limited lab facilities.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-affiliated fighters retain control of Qandala town in the Bari region of Puntland State. The militants occupied the town on October 26. Large numbers of civilians have reportedly fled to nearby Bosaso town. Puntland officials announced a planned offensive by Puntland Security Forces (PSF) to retake Qandala on October 27 but noted the difficulty of navigating the Galgala Mountains to enter Qandala.
- Al Shabaab forces occupied Goof Gaduud town in Bay region after Somali National Army (SNA) forces withdrew to protest unpaid salaries on November 1. Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Goof Gaduud on October 30. Al Shabaab’s expanding area of control in south central Somalia is the result of Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces’ recent withdrawal from the region.
- Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an AMISOM convoy near Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region on November 1. Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED outside a restaurant in Mahaday and attacked the nearby El Baraf AMISOM camp on October 13.
- Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reshuffled his cabinet in response to protests by the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups on November 1. Desalegn declared a state of emergency in response to the protests on October 8. Desalegn replaced half of his 30-member cabinet, which now includes nine ministers from the Oromia region. The protests initially erupted in late 2015 over the planned expansion of Addis Ababa into Oromo lands but swelled to nation-wide protests in August 2016. Security forces killed at least 400 protesters through August 2016, according to Human Rights Watch. A stampede of protesters killed at least 52 civilians on October 2.