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 delegates arrive in Muscat, Oman; Saudi-led coalition and popular resistance forces near al Rahidah, Taiz governorate; UAE-trained Yemeni soldiers arrive in Aden; Saudis deny targeting civilians in airstrikes; gunmen rob International Bank of Yemen in Aden
Horn of Africa: Reported U.S. airstrike kills a high-ranking al Shabaab leader in Balad Amin, Lower Shabelle Region; al Shabaab kills a pro-ISIS faction leader in Gududley, Middle Jubba region; Galmudug and Puntland forces clash in Galkayo, Mudug region; Ethiopian forces clash with Kenyan police near Sololo, northern Kenya; al Shabaab attacks Puntland military base near Bosaso, Bari region
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi delegates arrived in Muscat, Oman on November 23 to discuss the terms of the impending Geneva peace talks. The Muscat meetings are sponsored by the United Nations. The Saudi-led coalition and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government insist that the al Houthi delegation accept UN Resolution 2216, which calls for the al Houthis to relinquish their territorial holdings and cease fighting.
- The Saudi-led coalition and popular resistance fighters clashed with al Houthi-Saleh militias in a push to recapture Taiz governorate in central Yemen on November 22. Coalition-backed forces advanced just south of al Rahidah, Taiz governorate’s second largest city, located near the Taiz-Lahij border to the southeast of Taiz city. Coalition commanders said that al Houthi landmines have impeded the coalition’s progress.
- Yemeni soldiers trained by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived in Aden city in southern Yemen on November 23. This arrival coincides with a recent increase in coalition ground forces in southern Yemen as part of an effort to consolidate territory along Yemen’s established battle lines in Taiz, al Dhaleh, al Bayda, and Ma’rib governorates, throughout southern and central Yemen.
- An unidentified Saudi Air Force brigadier general denied targeting civilians with airstrikes in Yemen in a November 21 interview with AFP. The general said the Saudis have followed the Geneva conventions and have a list of over 4,800 civilian, aid, educational, and historic locations exempt from airstrikes. He went on to deny bombing a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Sa’ada governorate last month.
- Gunmen robbed the International Bank of Yemen in Aden city in southern Yemen on November 22. The robbers took 60-80 million Yemeni rials, or around $300,000. Saudi-led coalition forces are attempting to restore security in Aden, Yemen’s largest port city.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A suspected drone strike hit an al Shabaab base on November 21 in Balad Amin, Lower Shabelle region. The strike killed between five and ten al Shabaab members, including the group’s leader. The U.S. is believed to have carried out the attack, as it has conducted similar drone strikes in the past against al Shabaab members. Al Shabaab has yet to comment on the strike.
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed members of a pro-Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) faction on November 22 in Gududley village, Middle Jubba region. Five members of the pro-ISIS faction were killed in the ambush. Sheikh Hussein Abdi Gedi, an individual with close ties to Ahmad Umar, al Shabaab’s current emir, was among those killed in the ambush. The targeted individuals are believed to have recently pledged their allegiance to ISIS.
- Galmudug State security forces clashed with Puntland’s forces on November 22 near Galkayo, Mudug region. Puntland construction workers guarded by soldiers were reportedly building a road near Galkayo when Galmudug’s forces blocked them. Fighting broke out, killing at least 11 people and injuring 43. Local elders called for a ceasefire after the initial clash, and Puntland officials expressed an interest in negotiating with officials from Galmudug State. Galkayo is split into two administrative divisions, with Galmudug State administering the southern portion of the city and Puntland running the rest. This particular incident sparked when Puntland’s construction project came too close to Galmudug State’s administrative area.
- Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) crossed into Kenya and attacked Kenyan police on November 20 near Sololo, Marsabit County. The ENDF forces were pursuing members of the separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) organization as they fled into Kenya. Once inside Kenya, ENDF forces attacked a Kenyan police vehicle, killing at least three officers and taking weapons before fleeing. Five police officers are reported missing following the attack. The motivation for the attack remains unknown, and Ethiopian officials have not commented on the incident. Kenya has since deployed soldiers to the Kenyan-Ethiopian border.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked a Puntland military base on November 22 near Bosaso, Bari region. The militants began the attack with a mortar bombardment before conducting a ground assault. An al Shabaab spokesperson stated that the militants behind the attack are members of the group’s Galgala Mountains-based cell, and that they inflicted heavy casualties on Puntland’s forces during the attack. The spokesperson’s mention of the Galgala cell confirms that al Shabaab still maintains a presence in the Bari region after a number of militants from the cell, along with a prominent religious leader, publically pledged their allegiance to ISIS October 23. Puntland’s government has not yet provided casualty figures that support al Shabaab’s claims.