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-Saleh militants release American hostage; AQAP warns Yemenis not to join government security forces; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Hadi government and allied forces in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate; southern Yemenis protest for representation and government services
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate SVBIED outside parliament building in Mogadishu; al Shabaab forces ambush Burundian AMISOM convoy and fire mortars at Burundian AMISOM base in Middle Shabelle region; Puntland and Galmudug forces exchange artillery fire in Galkayo, Mudug region; al Shabaab militants disable telecommunications equipment in Jilib town and Kismayo, Jubbaland State
Yemen Security Brief
- Omani officials facilitated the release of U.S. citizen Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman on November 6. Al Houthi-Saleh militants abducted Luqman, a former U.S. Marine who taught English in Yemen, in Sana’a city as he was trying to leave the country in April 2015. The Omani government facilitated the release of two other Americans held by al Houthi-Saleh forces on October 15. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Luqman’s release a “positive gesture” by the al Houthi-Saleh alliance.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued a six-page document warning southern Yemenis not to join government security forces. The document declared that AQAP militants can target security forces without allowing them to repent. AQAP also released details on social media on the November 3 suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on Hadrami Elite forces in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate. AQAP-linked social media accounts reported that a militant known as Abu Jandal al Adani drove a car with two tons of explosives past five checkpoints and detonated the SVBIED next to a Hadrami Elite forces headquarters. The Hadrami Elite forces are a UAE-trained and funded counterterrorism unit based in Hadramawt governorate.
- UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh reportedly left Sana’a on November 7 without reaching an agreement on peace negotiations with the al Houthi-Saleh alliance. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance demanded that Saudi Arabia end its blockade and bombing campaign on al Houthi-Saleh-held territory before peace negotiations can resume.
- Al Houthi-Saleh militants launched a ballistic missile toward Ma’rib city on November 6. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted the missile. Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted a complex attack targeting forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s coalition-backed government at Camp Kofal near Sirwah district in eastern Ma’rib governorate on November 6. Hadi government forces are attempting to control Sirwah district, which is located less than 100 km east of Sana’a city, in preparation for an offensive on the al Houthi-Saleh-held capital city.
- Demonstrations for representation and government services continued throughout southern Yemen. Southern Movement supporters demonstrated against the UN peace proposal and called for southern Yemeni independence in Sheikh Othman district, Aden city on November 6. The Southern Movement pursues southern Yemeni representation and includes some secessionist elements. A spokesman for the Southern Resistance Council stated that the Southern Resistance, a coalition of tribal militias allied with the Hadi government, rejected the UN proposal due to its lack of assurances for adequate southern Yemeni representation should President Hadi transfer his powers to a consensus vice president. Protests against unpaid wages continued in southern Yemen, where government salaries have not been paid since August 2015. School teachers and government workers protested unpaid wages in Zinjibar city, Abyan governorate. The Director of the Aden-based Central Bank of Yemen announced that the Central Bank will start paying some government salaries this week. Protests also demonstrated against the unstable security environment, calling on government authorities to increase security in Ataq city, Shabwah governorate on November 6. Southern Yemeni governors and political leaders are organizing a meeting on November 30 to coordinate political, security, and financial efforts in southern Yemen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) outside the parliamentary building in Mogadishu on November 5. The militant rammed a vehicle carrying two Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) personnel. The blast may have killed as many as 20 individuals, though the government officials denied this claim. Security forces have been unable to prevent SVBIED attacks on prominent government and tourist attractions in Mogadishu. 
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy outside Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region on November 4. The militants claim to have killed seven Burundian AMISOM forces in the attack. Al Shabaab militants also fired mortars targeting the Burundian AMISOM base in El Baraf, south of Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region on November 6. The militants fired three mortars at the base but did not inflict any casualties. Burundian officials threatened to withdraw forces from Somalia on November 3 in response to months of unpaid salaries.
- Puntland and Galmudug security forces exchanged artillery fire in Galkayo, Mudug region on November 6, ending a ceasefire negotiated in Abu Dhabi on November 1. The latest round of fighting killed 20 civilians and security personnel and wounded 80 others. Puntland and Galmudug state have repeatedly clashed over claims to territory in northern Galkayo town. This most recent round of fighting began after Galmudug forces blamed Puntland intelligence forces for providing the faulty intelligence that led to a U.S. airstrike that killed 14 Galmudug security forces on September 28.
- Al Shabaab militants destroyed telecommunications equipment in Jilib town in Middle Jubba region on November 5. Jilib remains an al Shabaab stronghold in the region. The operation was likely intended to deter security forces’ movements in the area. Al Shabaab destroyed telecommunications equipment in Kismayo on November 3 and conducted a series of attacks on infrastructure in Mandera County, Kenya in June and July 2016.