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 political leader says that negotiations have failed; UN World Food Programme warns of humanitarian crisis in Taiz; cyclone approaches Yemeni coast; coalition delivers weapons to pro-Hadi brigade in northern Hadramawt governorate
Horn of Africa: Nomadic herders kill four al Shabaab militants in Afad, Hiraan region; al Shabaab releases photos of killed soldiers and stolen weaponry; Kenyan police launch search for al Shabaab recruiters in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County
Yemen Security Brief
- Saleh al Samad, the head of the al Houthi political council, announced the failure of UN-led peace talks between the al Houthis and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and said that military operations will continue in Yemen in an October 30 Facebook post. Al Samad denounced Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir’s statements on the imminent end of the conflict in Yemen as “lies and deceptions.” Al Samad called the Saudi media a “mouthpiece for the Americans” and claimed that the U.S. is using public support for peace talks as a way to “buy more time to make Yemen a battlefield for al Qaeda and Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham].” He accused the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, of working only for the interests of the Saudi-led coalition. Other al Houthi leaders, President Hadi’s government, and the UN have not responded to al Samad’s statements.
- The UN World Food Programme called for “safe and immediate access” to Taiz governorate in central Yemen on October 29. Taiz is among ten of Yemen’s 22 governorates classified as food insecure at an “emergency” level, one step away from internationally recognized famine conditions. Taiz city, currently under siege by pro-al Houthi forces, has not received food aid for the past five weeks.
- A cyclone equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane gathering in the Arabian Sea is expected to make landfall in Yemen and Oman on November 2. The storm is expected to weaken before it reaches the coast and will likely avoid Yemen’s most populated regions, but flooding and gale force winds may damage already deficient infrastructure and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
- Saudi-led coalition aircraft delivered “sophisticated” weapons to a Yemeni infantry brigade loyal to President Hadi in northern Hadramawt governorate on October 29. The shipment reportedly included medium-range rocket launchers, anti-armor munitions, and other medium and light weapons. The Yemeni 19th Infantry Brigade will use the coalition weapons to expel al Houthi militias from northern Shabwah governorate, according to reports.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants illegally collecting taxes from local residents clashed with nomadic herders on the outskirts of Afad, Hiraan region. The clash, which occurred on October 29, began when herdsmen refused to comply with al Shabaab’s demands. Four al Shabaab militants were killed in the ensuring fight.
- Pro-al Shabaab media outlets released photos of al Shabaab militants with the arranged bodies and weapons of six alleged Somali National Army (SNA) solders on October 29. Al Shabaab claims it ambushed the soldiers near Elbur town, Galgudud region. SNA officials refute al Shabaab’s claim, instead saying that the corpses are the result of infighting between militants in the Galgudud region.
- Kenyan police launched a manhunt on October 28 for individuals suspected of recruiting for al Shabaab in Eldoret, located in Kenya’s western Uasin Gishu County. The suspected recruiters are reaching out to university students in the area, with four students being reported missing in the past two months. Western Kenya is a region in which al Shabaab is not known to maintain a significant presence.