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 militants target security forces in Abyan; ISIS releases video showing attacks on security forces and officials in Aden; President Hadi relocates central bank to Aden and appoints new cabinet members; Hadi government and allied forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sirwah district, eastern Ma’rib governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab SVBIED kills SNA general in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants temporarily seize El Wak town in Gedo region; suspected al Shabaab gunmen kill SNA officer and local elder in Mogadishu; Mogadishu mayor bans political protests as pre-election state formation talks crumble
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants targeted southern Yemen’s legal system and security forces from September 17-19. AQAP militants attacked Hizam security forces with a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) near Mount Akd, Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate and Ja’ar village, southwestern Abyan on September 17. AQAP militants ambushed Hizam security forces traveling to Shaqra city, southern Abyan September 18. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a courthouse and a judge’s residence in al Wuday district, central Abyan governorate on September 19. Hizam security forces arrested AQAP militants in Zinjibar, Abyan on September 18.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan released a video showing its attacks on security forces and officials aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Aden since May 2016. The video shows suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attacks on recruitment centers for Hadi government-allied security forces in Khormaksar and al Mansoura districts in late May and August. The video also shows the assassination of Hadi government officials in Sheikh Othman district, Aden governorate, on August 22 and September 6.
- President Hadi relocated Yemen’s central bank from Sana’a to Aden city on September 18. He claimed that the al Houthi-Saleh alliance was draining the bank’s reserves to fund its forces. President Hadi appointed former Finance Minister Monasser al Quaiti to run the relocated central bank in Aden. He also appointed Ahmed Obaid al Fadhli to replace al Quaiti as finance minister. President Hadi appointed four new members to the Shura Council, reshuffled several cabinet members, and appointed new governors in Shabwah and al Hudaydah.
- Hadi government and allied forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sirwah district, eastern Ma’rib governorate on September 18. Hadi government and allied forces seized positions from al Houthi-Saleh forces in Zaghin area, southwest of Sirwah. Saudi-led coalition warplanes provided air support in Sirwah district. Thirty al Houthi-Saleh fighters surrendered on September 18 after Hadi government and allied forces surrounded their stronghold in Sirwah on September 9. The Hadi government offensive in Sirwah is part of shaping operations for an impending assault on Sana’a city, located less than 100 km east from Sirwah district.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- An al Shabaab suicide bomber killed a senior Somali National Army (SNA) commander in Mogadishu on September 18. The militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) as he rammed a military vehicle carrying General Mohamed Roble Jimale outside the Somali Ministry of Defense. Jimale led the SNA’s 3rd Battalion, which fought al Shabaab militants in the Lower Shabelle region. The explosion also killed seven security personnel.
- Al Shabaab militants drove SNA forces from El Wak town in Gedo region, Somalia on September 16. Militants preached to the local population after driving away SNA forces using small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The militants commandeered a number of military vehicles before withdrawing from the town on September 17. The attack killed at least 10 SNA forces.
- Suspected al Shabaab assassins killed an SNA officer in Mogadishu on September 18. Gunmen killed Abdullah Sabriye Abdulle in Hodon district. Unidentified militants also assassinated a local elder in Mogadishu on September 18. Gunmen killed Mohamed Mohamud Farah in the Yaqshid district.
- Government officials in Mogadishu issued a decision on September 19 requiring political activists to obtain permission from the local government to conduct protests. Opposition party candidates in the upcoming elections derided the ruling as a violation of constitutional rights. Talks on the formation of Hiraan-Middle Shabelle state in Jowhar may be falling apart. A failure to agree on state formation could push back the once-delayed elections further. National elections are scheduled to begin on September 24.