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.{{authorBox.message}}



Yemen: Al Hudaydah governor announces plans to seize al Hudaydah port city; Associated Press reports guards sexually assault and torture detainees in Emirati prisons in southern Yemen; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile targeting Aramco oil facility in Abha, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Jubbaland commander alleges that Kenyan AMISOM forces are refusing to fight al Shabaab in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Eritrea to send delegation to Ethiopia for peace talks; car bomb injures civilians in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s al Hudaydah Governor Hassan Taher announced Emirati-backed Yemeni forces will move in two fronts to seize al Hudaydah port in a June 19 statement.  Emirati-backed forces will advance towards the main road east of the city leading to Sana’a and along the coastal al Corniche road on the southwest edge of al Hudaydah city. He warned al Hudaydah citizens to avoid these areas. Taher stated that the Emirati-backed forces aim to enter the city in the safest way possible but acknowledged the dangers of military forces clashing within the city.[1]

Detainees are tortured and sexually abused in Emirati-run prisons in southern Yemen, according to a June 20 Associated Press report. The report alleges that Yemeni guards working under the direction of Emirati officers have abused hundreds of detainees and held terror suspects without trials or charges. Prisoners passed drawings with written descriptions of the sexual assault and torture to AP reporters. A Yemeni commander expressed concern that the use of torture is driving recruitment for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).  The AP first reported on widespread abuse in Emirati-run prisons in Yemen in June 2017.U.S. officials denied they have received credible allegations of torture. The UN and Human Rights Watch have previously reported similar allegations.[2]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 ballistic missile at an Aramco oil facility in Abha, Asir region, southwestern Saudi Arabia. Aramco officials stated their facilities are functioning properly.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A Somali military commander in Lower Jubba region accused the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) of refusing to participate in fighting against al Shabaab in Kismayo city, Lower Jubba region. The Jubbaland army commander stated that his forces would continue fighting al Shabaab in the Lower Jubba region. Kenyan forces recaptured the port city from al Shabaab in 2012.[4] 

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki announced that he will send a delegation to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for peace talks. Afwerki gave the speech at a Martyrs’ Day event in Asmara on June 20. The statement follows the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s announcement on June 5 that Ethiopia will accept the 2000 Algiers Peace Agreement between the two countries. This announcement marks the first step toward peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea since 1998.[5]

 A car bomb exploded at Makkah al Makarrama road, Xaaji Basto area, Mogadishu on June 20. The bomb was attached to the vehicle. The explosion injured the two civilians in the car. The bombing is the first explosion in Mogadishu in forty days. No group claimed the attack but al Shabaab is likely responsible.[6]

[1] “Secure Plan to enter the city after the liberation of the airport,” Al Ittihad, June 19, 2018,
[2] “Detainees held without charges decry Emiratis’ sexual abuses,” Maggie Michael, AP News, June 20, 2018,
[3] “Houthis say launch missile at Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, June 19, 2018,
[4] “Kenya: AMISOM ignores to join war on al Shabaab,” Mareeg, June 20, 2018,
[5] Aaron Maasho, “Eritrea welcomes Ethiopia PM’s olive branch, raising hopes of breakthrough,”Reuters, June 20, 2018,; “Ertirea to Send Delegation to Ethiopia for Peace Talks,” NY Times, June 20, 2018,; “Eritrea to send delegation to Ethiopia for talks,” Al Jazeera, June 20, 2018,; Paul Schemm, “Eritrea breaks silence and responds to Ethiopia peace overtures, will send delegation,” The Washington Post, June 20, 2018,; and “Breaking: President Isaias announces Eritrea to dispatch delegation to Ethiopia,” Addis Standard, June 20, 2018,
[6] “Somalia: Car bomb injures 2 people in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, June 20, 2018,; “Explosion in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, June 20, 2018,; and “Car bomb wounds at least two in Somali capital,” Radio Shabelle, June 20, 2018,
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Yemen: Emirati-backed forces seize majority of al Hudaydah Airport; Iranian President tells Qatari Emir military approach in Yemen will fail

Horn of Africa: U.S. forces capture militants at al Shabaab intelligence headquarters in Awdheegle, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants attack Somali forces in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati and Emirati-backed troops seized the majority of al Hudaydah Airport on the outskirts of al Hudaydah port city, western Yemen on June 19.  A commander of the Emirati-backed Yemeni National Resistance Forces Abu Zarah al Mahrami reported that Emirati-backed forces are still pursuing small groups of al Houthi forces inside the airport. Al Hudaydah Airport is approximately eight miles from al Hudaydah Port.[1]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani that a military approach in Yemen will fail during a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey on June 18. Rouhani told al Thani that the crisis in Yemen should be solved through negotiations.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) troops raided an al Shabaab intelligence headquarters in Awdheegle town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. The U.S. forces killed two al Shabaab members and captured seven commanders in the attack.[3]

Al Shabaab militants attacked the Somali National Army (SNA) and Jubbaland military forces in Sanguni, Kismayo district, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on June 19. The Somali military forces killed seven al Shabaab militants in the fight. The al Shabaab attack injured five Somali officers. The attack occurred at the same location as the June 8 al Shabaab attack that killed one American serviceman and wounded four others. Somali and Kenyan forces supported by U.S. advisors were establishing a combat outpost at Sanguni at the time of the June 8 attack.[4]

[1] “Saudi, UAE coalition enters airport compound of Yemen's Hudaida,” Al Jazeera, June 19, 2018,; “Commander declares control of al Hudaydah Airport,” Hadramawt net, June 19, 2018,; “Yemen: Government forces storm Hodeida airport,” Deutsche Welle, June 19, 2018,; and “Coalition forces take over Hodeida airport,” Gulf News, June 19, 2018,
[2] “Iran's Rouhani says military approach will fail in Yemen: State TV,” Reuters, June 18, 2018,
[3] David Goldman, “United States Revenges Bar-Sanguni at Awdheegle. Airborne Commando’s Capture Al Shabaab Intelligence Commanders,” Intelligence Briefs, June 19, 2018,; and “Foreign Forces raid kills 2 people in Somalia,” Mareeg, June 18, 2018,
[4] “Seven militants killed in fighting outside Kismayo,” Mareeg, June 19, 2018,; “Somali military claims to have killed 7 al Shabaab fighters in fighting near Kismayo town,” Live from Somalia, Twitter, June 19, 2018,; and Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Quick Evacuation in Somalia Firefight Shows Disparity in U.S. Resources in Africa,” New York Times, June 10, 2018,
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Yemen: Emirati aircraft bomb al Houthi forces inside al Hudaydah Airport; UN Special Envoy for Yemen meets with al Houthi leaders to negotiate al Hudaydah withdrawal; Saudi troops attack al Houthi forces in the Asir region, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED strikes Kenyan police vehicle in Wajir county, northeastern Kenya; Kenyan Defense Force launch airstrikes on al Shabaab hideout in El Adde town, Gedo region, southern Somalia; Ethiopian prime minister and Somali president agree to joint investment on four Somali ports; ISIS fighters detonate IED in Daynile district, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati aircrafts bombed al Houthi forces inside al Hudaydah Airport and in al Manzar neighborhood, southwest of al Hudaydah Airport on June 18. Emirati-backed forces fought their way onto the airport’s grounds on June 16, according to a spokesman for the Republican Guard. Al Houthi forces denied that Emirati-backed forces seized any part of the airport on June 16.  Emirati-backed Giants Brigades also moved towards eastern al Hudaydah Governorate to try to cut off the main road that links al Hudaydah to Sana’a between June 15 and 17.[1] 

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths requested al Houthi forces withdraw from al Hudaydah and leave the port under UN supervision during talks with al Houthi leaders in the capital Sana’a, Yemen on June 16 and 17. He did not reach an agreement with the al Houthi leaders, who requested more time to review the proposal. Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated that the UAE will only accept an unconditional al Houthi withdrawal from al Hudaydah port at a press conference in Dubai on June 18. Gargash stated that the time for negotiations over al Hudaydah was a year ago and the only solution now involves Yemeni-Yemeni dialogues and cooperation to prevent deeper Iranian involvement in Yemen. Griffiths will meet with the UN Security Council in a closed session on June 18 to review the Yemeni peace plan.[2]

Saudi troops attacked al Houthi forces in Asir region, Saudi Arabia on June 17. Al Houthi forces shelled Saudi troops in response. Al Houthi forces seized and destroyed two armored personnel carriers (APC) from Saudi troops during the clashes. Al Houthi forces also claimed to hit a Saudi military target with a Zilzal 2 ballistic missile in Asir region on June 18.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (RCIED) that struck a Kenyan police vehicle in Bojigaras area, Wajir county, northeastern Kenya, bordering Somalia on June 17. Al Shabaab militants fired at the wounded security personnel after the RCIED exploded. The attack killed five administration police and three police reservists. Al Shabaab claimed to have killed 38 people in the attack. Al Shabaab also released a video for Eid al Fitr documenting multiple attacks in Kenya.[4]

Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) fighter jets launched airstrikes on El Adde town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on June 17. The strikes targeted an al Shabaab hideout in the Hareri and Gadon areas, El Adde town. The airstrikes injured five people. Kenyan military officials have not commented on the airstrikes.[5] 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Mogadishu on June 16. The two leaders agreed on joint investments in four Somali ports. Somalia and Ethiopia will invest in infrastructure and roads to link the two countries. The Ethiopian prime minister and Somali President also discussed joint efforts to fight terrorism in the region. [6]

ISIS militants detonated an IED that killed four government soldiers and wounded five others in Daynile district, Mogadishu on June 15. ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency claimed the attack.[7]

[1] Ahmed Al-Haj, “Fighting rages around airport in Yemen port city of Hodeida,” Associated Press, June 18, 2018,; “Yemen war: Government troops ‘capture Hudaydah airport,’” BBC, June 16, 2018,; Mohammed Ghobari, “Arab coalition bombs Houthis at Hodeidah airport, urges them to withdraw,” Reuters, June 18, 2018,;“Yemen: Pro-government fighters advance on al Hudaydah airport June 15,” Garda, June 15, 2018,; and Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Mokhashef, “Arab forces seize entrances to airport in Yemen’s main port city,” Reuters, June 15, 2018,

[2] “UN envoy in Yemen for emergency talks on Hodeidah crisis,” Middle East Eye, June 16, 2018,; “UN envoy to update Security Council on Yemen Plan during closed session,” Al Arabiya, June 18, 2018,; “UN envoy in Yemen for crisis talks over Hudaida port,” Al Jazeera, June 16, 2018,; “UAE demands unconditional rebel withdrawal from Yemen port,” Yahoo, June 18, 2018,; and “War in Yemen is at a turning point: UAE Minister,” Gulf News, June 18, 2018,

[3]  Leith Aboufadel, “Saudi Army offensive near Yemen border ends in disaster as Houthi forces swarm area (video),” Al Masdar News, June 18, 2018,; and “Yemeni army fired 'Zilizal 2' missiles on Saudi’s gatherings in Asir,” Ahlulbayt News, June 18, 2018,

[4] “8 Security Personnel Killed After their Vehicle Hit an IED in Bojigaras Area, Wajir County,” The Standard, June 17, 2018,; “Wajir attack killed 8 Kenyan security officers,” Goobjoog, June 18, 2018,; “Several Kenya police officers killed in new IED explosions in Wajir, northeast Kenya,”Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 17, 2018,; David Goldman, “IED kills 8 security personnel in Boji-Garas area of Wajir prefecture in NEP Kenya,” Intelligence Briefs, June 17, 2018,; “Shabaab claims attack in Kenya’s Wajir county resulted in 38 casualties,” SITE, June 18, 2018, available by subscription at; and “Shabaab documents multiple attacks in Kenya in video for Eid Al-Fitr 2018, identifies British foreign fighter among slain members,”SITE, June 18, 2018, available by subscription at

[5] “Kenyan warplanes hit Somalia,” Mareeg, June 17, 2018,; and “Suspected KDF Fighter Jets Carry Out Airstrike in Southern Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, June 17, 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, “Ethiopia, Somalia agree to strengthen ‘brotherly’ relations,” VOA, June 16, 2018,;“Ethiopia seeks to legitimise port deals with Somalia,” Daily Nation, June 16, 2018,; “Ethiopia, Somalia call for joint efforts to fight terrorism,” Xinhua, June 16, 2018,; and “Somalia, Ethiopia agree to invest in 4 seaports,” Mareeg, June 16, 2018,

[7] “ISIL group claims explosion in Somali capital,” Mareeg, June 17, 2018,; “Islamic State claims killing 4 policemen in Daynile Neighborhood of Mogadishu,” Terror Monitor, June 16, 2018,; and “IS Claims 3 Attacks in Somalia in 3 Consecutive Days,” SITE, June 15, 2018, available by subscription at




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