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: AQAP official threatens the U.S.; ISIS claims to repel al Houthi-Saleh attack in western al Bayda governorate; Saudi Arabia privately expresses support for UN peace proposal; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia and Nihm district, Sana’a governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces clash with Hadi government and allied force in Taiz governorate; Hadi government and allied forces attack al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sa’ada governorate
Horn of Africa: Burundian officials threaten to withdraw forces from AMISOM; UN envoy praises cease fire between Galmudug and Puntland State leaders
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a speech on November 4 from senior official Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, who told supporters that “America is broken” and vowed to continue attacking the U.S. Al Qosi also called on Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) members to consolidate around al Qaeda. Al Qosi is a former Guantanamo detainee and current spiritual leader for AQAP.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to repel an al Houthi-Saleh attack in the Qifa area, western al Bayda governorate on November 4. ISIS claimed to kill five al Houthi-Saleh militants and stated that clashes are ongoing. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) recently criticized ISIS on social media for claiming to be the defenders of Sunnis in al Bayda, a role AQAP claims to fill.
- The government of Saudi Arabia privately expressed support for the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh’s October peace proposal despite public statements to the contrary. A UN official claimed that the Saudi government encouraged President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to accept the deal. Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdullah al Mouallimi stated that Yemeni parties should decide their own leadership. A Yemeni diplomatic source separately claimed that Saudi Arabia is concerned that al Houthi-Saleh forces will not comply with the withdrawal mandated by the UN proposal. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance fears a withdrawal will leave it vulnerable to an attack, according to the Yemeni source. Former President Saleh called the proposal a “good basis for negotiations” in a meeting with the UN Special Envoy in Sana’a city. Oman is attempting to mediate between the two parties.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched two Zilzal-2 ballistic missile targeting Hadi government forces and the Saudi military. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a Zilzal-2 missile at Hadi government and allied forces in Nihm district, northeastern Sana’a governorate on November 4. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also launched a Zilzal-2 missile at Saudi military camp in al Mawsim, southern Jazan region, Saudi Arabia on November 3.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi government and allied forces in and near Taiz governorate on November 4. Hadi government and allied forces exchanged artillery fire with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz city. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Hadi government and allied forces in Kahboub district on the southern end of the Taiz-Lahij border and in Kirsh district on the northern end of the Taiz-Lahij border on November 4. Major roadways into Taiz city pass through Kirsh and Kahboub districts.
- Hadi government and allied forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, attacked al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on November 4. A spokesman for the Hadi forces in Sa’ada stated that landmines slowed their advancement. Hadi government-allied reinforcements mobilized to northern Sa’ada governorate on November 2. Hadi government forces backed by coalition air support began an offensive to seize Sa’ada governorate in mid-October. Sa’ada is a historic stronghold for the al Houthi movement.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Burundian Minister of Defense Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye announced the Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) contingent may withdraw from Somalia due to unpaid salaries on November 3. Ethiopian AMISOM forces began withdrawing from Somalia in August 2016 as Ethiopia’s Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups protested across the country. Al Shabaab has since occupied many of the strategic towns vacated by Ethiopian AMISOM forces.
- UN Special Representative to Somalia Michael Keating praised the ceasefire signed between Puntland and Galmudug heads of state in Abu Dhabi on November 1. Clashes between Galmudug and Puntland forces began last month following a September 28 U.S. airstrike that killed 14 Galmudug security personnel. Galmudug blamed Puntland officials for providing the faulty intelligence. The ceasefire calls for an immediate end to hostilities, the return of displaced persons, and for Puntland and Galmudug officials to cease inciting violence. Galmudug and Puntland forces began a peace process in December 2015 that did not prove effective.