A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.
Horn of Africa: al Shabaab conducts multiple IED ambushes targeting AMISOM convoys in southern Somalia; AMISOM forces fire mortar shells into civilian areas; 110 civilians die from hunger and disease within 48 hours in Bay region, southern Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
U.S. airstrikes targeted ORGANIZATIONAQAPAL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA (AQAP) FORMED IN JANUARY 2…al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yemen for five consecutive days. A U.S. defense intelligence official reported that the recent airstrikes had been planned and were not related to intelligence recovered during the U.S. Special Operation Forces (SOF) January 29 raid on an AQAP headquarters in central Yemen. U.S. airstrikes reportedly targeted AQAP in Noufan village, al Bayda governorate; al Sa’id district, Shabwah governorate; and Ahwar, Abyan governorate between March 4 and 6. One of the strikes in Abyan killed Mossad al Adani, AQAP’s emir of Abyan governorate and an explosives expert, according to U.S. defense officials. The Trump administration designated some regions of Yemen as “areas of active hostility” in order to enable U.S. forces to conduct strikes with less oversight from the White House. RECOMMENDED READHow the U.S. Should Re-Engage in Yemen
The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence reportedly issued a warning to merchant ships traveling between Yemen’s and the western port of Mokha, Taiz governorate, to be mindful of aquatic mines placed by al Houthi-Saleh forces. The March 1 statement also acknowledged that the U.S. Navy is working to find and disarm mines near the important strait. Up to 30 percent of global oil trade passes through the Bab al Mandab.
AQAP militants attacked Emirati-backed security forces in eastern and southern Yemen. Militants attacked Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an in Hadramawt governorate on March 3. Hadhrami Elite Forces responded by raiding an AQAP weapons cache in Ghayl wa Bazir district, southwest of Daw’an, on March 6. AQAP militants attacked al Hizam security forces at a checkpoint in al Arqub, north of Shaqra city, in Abyan governorate.
Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched an artillery strike on Lawder village in northern Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on March 4. The attack disabled electricity to the region. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to seize territory in Lawder village on February 6, but were pushed back by popular resistance forces. Emirati-backed al Hizam forces withdrew from Lawder district in early February, citing increased AQAP activity. The recent uptick in al Houthi-Saleh bloc activity in Lawder district indicates a local power vacuum.
AQAP’s emir, Qasim al Raymi, released an eleven-minute speech eulogizing the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman on March 6. Abdul Rahman died on February 19 of natural causes in a North Carolina prison where he had been sentenced for his role as a key planner of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Al Raymi used the speech to criticize the United States.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Al Shabaab militants targeted ORGANIZATIONAMISOMTHE AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN SOMALIA (AMISOM) IS A PEACEKEEP…African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in multiple ambushes in southern Somalia on March 4 and 5. Al Shabaab militants conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) ambush targeting an AMISOM convoy between Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region on March 4. The militants opened fire on the convoy, which was carrying Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), after detonating the IED. Al Shabaab militants also conducted an IED ambush targeting an AMISOM convoy near Lanta Buro village in Lower Shabelle region on March 5. The militants opened fire on the convoy carrying Burundian soldiers after detonating the IED along the road between Marka and Afgoi, in an area located 50 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab has expanded operations against AMISOM forces with IED ambushes and raids in strategic towns in southern Somalia in recent months. RECOMMENDED READUS Counterterrorism Objectives in Somalia: Is Mission Failure Likely?
AMISOM forces fired mortar shells into al Shabaab-controlled villages near Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on March 5. The bombardment killed two civilians and injured several others. AMISOM officials did not comment on the deaths. A UN Security Council report released in January 2017 confirmed rising civilian fatalities due to AMISOM operations in Somalia. Al Shabaab frequently ambushes AMISOM forces traveling along a key road between Mogadishu and Mahaday, located 100 kilometers north of the capital.
The Somali Federal Government announced that drought and famine conditions killed more than 110 people in in southern Somalia between March 2 and 3. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire made the announcement during a meeting with the National Drought Committee on March 4. Cholera, a disease spread from drinking contaminated water, caused 65 of those deaths. The announcement is the first official death-toll statement from famine conditions since President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared a national disaster on March 1. Khaire said that thousands of people have fled to Mogadishu in search of food aid in recent days. The UN estimates that severe drought is affecting more than 6.2 million people in a country of 10.8 million people.