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: Russian ambassador to Yemen returns to Sana’a; AQAP kidnaps Yemeni National Security Bureau personnel in al Mukalla, Hadramawt
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants seize town of Janale, Lower Shabelle region; IED blast kills three soldiers at a checkpoint in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region
Yemen Security Brief
- The Russian ambassador to Yemen, Vladimir Dedushkin, returned to the al Houthi-held Yemeni capital of Sana’a on September 17. The ambassador’s return after months in Riyadh came as a surprise because Russia has publicly endorsed the legitimacy of the exiled Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Ambassador Dedushkin met with President Hadi in Riyadh on September 15 and reportedly supported UNSCR 2216, which calls for the al Houthis to disarm and withdraw from seized territories. The Hadi government has refused to negotiate until the al Houthis implement the resolution, but the al Houthis have refused to accept the terms without guarantees that their interests will be protected in the future. It is likely that Ambassador Dedushkin has returned to Sana’a with the intention of brokering a Russia-led political settlement between the Hadi government and the al Houthis.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants kidnapped three members of the Yemeni National Security Bureau in al Mukalla, Hadramawt on September 18. AQAP has occupied the southern port city since April and has deepened its control by targeting military and security personnel and infrastructure in the city. The kidnappings occurred a day after angry civilians temporarily closed the port of al Mukalla in protest of diesel shortages and extensive blackouts. AQAP militants stopped the protestors from storming the Hadramawt National Council, a body of scholars that governs the city alongside AQAP forces.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants seized control of the Janale town in Lower Shabelle region on September 18. Initial reports suggest a complex attack that opened with a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) followed by gunfire. Somali military officials stated that six militants were killed while four Somali National Army (SNA) members also died in the attack. Al Shabaab attacked a military base in the town on September 1. Al Shabaab’s seizure of the town was confirmed by Lower Shabelle’s governor, Ali Nur.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) blast killed three SNA soldiers and wounded seven people, among whom include both soldiers and civilians. Somali military officials confirmed that a senior military commander was among those killed in the attack. The blast occurred at a military checkpoint in the city of Kismayo, in the Lower Jubba region. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing, which occurred on September 17.