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: AQAP claims VBIED attack against Emirati-backed Yemeni forces in al Bayda; al Houthi forces claim missile attack on Saudi special forces in Jizan region; STC representative calls for securing oil-producing areas in Hadramawt

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike targets al Shabaab near Jilib; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Puntland Security Forces

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to detonate a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting Emirati-backed Yemeni security forces in Maswarah district in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on June 26. AQAP claimed to inflict multiple casualties.[1]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire a missile at a Saudi special forces base in Jizan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia on June 25. Al Houthi forces claimed to inflict multiple casualties.[2]

A representative from the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) promised on June 26 to secure oil-producing areas in Wadi Hadramawt in southern Yemen from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. STC representative Ali al Kathiri stated that STC forces would end the “occupation” of Hadramawt governorate’s oil fields. The STC is an Emirati-backed southern Yemeni secessionist organization.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants near al Shabaab-controlled Jilib town in Middle Jubba region in southern Somalia on June 24. The strike killed one militant.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked Puntland Security Forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) near Af Urur village in the Puntland region of northern Somalia on June 25. The blast killed four Puntland soldiers. Al Shabaab captured Af Urur on June 8 after Puntland Security Forces withdrew from the village.[5]

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia story streams.

[1] “AQAP Claims Suicide Bombing on UAE-backed “Elite” Forces in al-Bayda’,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 26, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[2] “A ballistic missile is your hand to command the invaders and mercenaries off Jizan” 26 September, June 26, 2019,

[3] “Al Kathiri: Abu Auja wants his forces to expand to reoccupy the areas very close to oil production Hadramout plateau,” Hadramout, June 26, 2019,

[4] “U.S. airstrike targets al Shabaab in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” United States Africa Command, June 25, 2019,

[5] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 25, 2019,; and Mohammed Omar Ahmed, “Al-Shabaab Captures Af-Urur Town in Somalia’s Puntland Region,” Bloomberg, June 8, 2019,

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Yemen: Saudi special forces capture leader of Islamic State in Yemen; suspected US drone strike kills five AQAP militants in al Bayda; Hadi government denies rumors it will withdraw from Stockholm Agreement

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian authorities arrest 182 people over failed coup attempt; UN Special Representative for Somalia arrives in Mogadishu


The Saudi-led coalition announced the recent capture of the leader of the Islamic State in Yemen, Abu Osama al Muhajir, on June 25. Saudi special forces and Yemeni forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi captured al Muhajir in an unidentified location in Yemen on June 3, according to coalition officials. The joint Saudi-Yemeni forces captured other Islamic State in Yemen officials during the raid, including the group’s chief financial officer. Some local media sources reported that the raid occurred in al Mahrah governorate in eastern Yemen, but this is unconfirmed.[1]

A suspected US drone conducted an airstrike targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in the Tiyab area of al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on June 25. The strike killed five militants.[2]

President Hadi’s government denied Yemeni media reports that it was preparing to leave the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement on June 25. The Hadi government reiterated its support for the agreement, which calls for an al Houthi withdrawal from three Red Sea ports in Yemen, a partial ceasefire, and a prisoner swap. Yemeni media reported on June 24 and June 25 that the Hadi government was planning to leave the agreement in response to repeated al Houthi violations.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian federal security forces arrested four high-ranking officials in the Amhara regional government, including the region’s deputy head of security, in Amhara region in northern Ethiopia on June 24. The officials are suspected of involvement in a failed coup attempt against the Amhara regional government on June 22 that killed five people, including the Chief of Staff of Ethiopia’s military. Federal security forces have arrested 178 additional suspects since the failed coup.[4]

The newly appointed UN Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu on June 25 to assume his office. Swan will also serve as the head of the UN Assistance Mission to Somalia. Swan is a career US diplomat and served in Somalia in the 1990s.[5]

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia story streams. 

[1] “Joint Forces Command of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: Saudi Special Forces Capture Leader of Daesh (ISIS) Branch in Yemen,” Saudi Press Agency, June 25, 2019,; and “Questions about the reasons for the reservation to mention the location of the operation and the delay of its declaration,” Al Mawqea Post, June 25, 2019,

[2] “US raid kills five Ansar al-Sharia organization in al-Bayda,” Barakish, June 25, 2019,; and Maher Farrukh, Twitter, June 25, 2019,

[3] Mina Aldroubi, “Yemen government denies quitting Stockholm agreement,” The National, June 25, 2019,

[4] “Plotter of failed Ethiopia coup killed, 182 others arrested,” Associated Press, June 24, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – June 24, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, June 24, 2019,

[5] “New UN Special Representative for Somalia Arrives in Mogadishu,” United Nations Missions, June 25, 2019,

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Yemen: Houthi attack kills one at Abha airport in Saudi Arabia; pro-STC crowd rallies following clashes in Shabwah; STC intends to form Elite Force in Mahrah

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian security forces kill Ethiopian army general suspected of leading coup against the Amhara State regional government; Somali special forces seize El Salin in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants attack border patrol outpost in Garissa County; Sudanese protesters accept political transition plan; Somali Galmudug State President accepts regional elections

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement attacked Abha International Airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on June 23. The attack killed one person and injured seven others. A Houthi spokesman said that the group launched multiple drone attacks on Abha and Jizan airports in southern Saudi Arabia on June 23. The Houthis fired a likely Iranian cruise missile at Abha airport on June 12, injuring 26 people. The Houthi movement has escalated attacks against Saudi targets amid a broader regional escalation between Iran and the US and Gulf states. The US, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE released a statement on June 24 expressing concern for rising tensions in Yemen and the Gulf of Oman and calling on Iran to cease escalatory actions.[1]

Protesters in Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen rallied in support of the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) and the Shabwani Elite Forces on June 24. The march follows clashes between the Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces and the Hadi government-aligned 21st brigade, led by Hadi government Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, in Shabwah between June 19 and June 21.[2]

The STC released a statement on June 19 calling for the people of Mahrah, Yemen’s easternmost governorate, to forego cooperation with opponents of southern independence. The Emirati-backed STC also stated its intent to form a Mahri Elite Force. The statement reflects a competition for influence that has intensified since Saudi military forces deployed to Mahrah in 2017.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian security forces killed the Ethiopian army brigadier general Asemnew Tsige in a firefight on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, the regional capital of the Amhara State, on June 24. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy stated that Tsige led the attempted coup against the Ethiopian Amhara State regional government on June 22. Unidentified individuals killed Amhara State regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and his adviser, Ezez Wassie, during a meeting in Bahir Dar on June 22. The attack also injured the Amhara state attorney general Migbaru Kebede, who died from his injuries on June 24. A bodyguard also killed the Ethiopian National Army Chief of Staff General Seare Mekonnen and a retired major general in General Seare’s home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, on June 22. Prime Minister Abiy stated that the assassination was connected to the coup attempt in the Amhara state. Ethiopia’s internet was disconnected following the attacks on June 22.[4]

Somali Danab special forces and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops seized El Salin town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia in a joint operation on June 24. Somali National Army (SNA) forces also cleared Koban village in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on June 24. SNA forces killed one al Shabaab militant and seized two vehicles during the operation. Al Shabaab militants ambushed Somali Southwest State regional security forces near Bur Eyle village in Bay region, southern Somalia on June 22. Five al Shabaab militants and 11 Somali security forces were killed in the clash.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a border patrol post in Yumbis town, Garissa County in northeastern Kenya on June 22. The militants seized firearms and vandalized a Safaricom mast. Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) killed three militants.[6]

Sudanese protesters accepted a proposal for political transition on June 23. The plan, put forward by the Ethiopian envoy, would create a civilian majority governing body consisting of eight civilians and seven members of the military. The Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) rejected the plan on June 24. The TMC stated that the Ethiopian and African Union envoys needed to unify their efforts and submit a joint proposal.[7]

The Somali Galmudug State regional president Ahmed Haaf stated that he expects regional elections to be held on time next month in a letter issued on June 23. Haaf’s administration previously reached an agreement with the paramilitary group Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a (ASWJ) that his administration would end in 2021. He stated that this agreement is broken and that his dispute with the Somali Federal Government (SFG) has ended. Haaf left his residence in Dhusamareb, the Galmudug regional capital in northern Somalia, shortly after issuing the statement.[8]

Visit our Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan story streams.

[1] “Saudi Airport Struck by Deadly Attack,” Associated Press, June 23, 2019,; U.S. Department of State, “Joint Statement by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States on Yemen and the Region,” June 24, 2019,; and Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, “Threat Update,” June 20, 2019,

[2] “A strong statement by the mass crowd of the sons of Shabwah,”, June 24, 2019,; and Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” June 21, 2019,

[3] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 22, 2019,

[4] Elias Meseret, “Ethiopia says plotter of failed coup is killed by military,” Associated Press, June 24 2019,; “Ethiopia security forces kill alleged coup leader,” Al Jazeera, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 23, 2019,; “Internet shutdown in Ethiopia amid reports of attempted coup,” NetBlocks, June 22, 2019,

[5] “Al Shabaab pushed out of ‘strategic’ town in southern Somalia,” Garowe, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 24, 2019,; “Somali forces clash with al Shabaab, 7 killed,” Mareeg, June 22, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 22, 2019,

[6] “Police kill 3 al Shabaab in foiled attack on Yumbis Camp,” Daily Nation, June 22, 2019,; “Al Shabaab militants attack Garissa police post, torch camp,” Radio Kulmiye, June 22, 2019,

[7] “Sudan protesters accept Ethiopia plan for political transition,” Hiiraan, June 23, 2019,; “Sudan’s military rejects Ethiopia’s transition proposal,” Hiiraan, June 24, 2019,

[8] “Somalia: Galmudug leader flees his residence amid bid to oust him” Garowe, June 24, 2019,; “President Haaf accepts regional elections, says Galmudug and Ahlu Sunnah Agreement is ‘broken,’” Goobjoog, June 24, 2019,

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