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: Yemeni delegation denies imminent peace deal; Yemeni special forces dismantle bomb-making cell in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; Iranian Navy sends two ships to the Gulf of Aden; clashes continue in Midi, Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali special operations forces and AMISOM troops supported by U.S. advisers kill al Shabaab regional commander responsible for Garissa University attack; NISA claims to have killed al Shabaab commander Yusuf Hagi in joint operation; security forces arrest suspected al Shabaab militants in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle region; Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary announces Dadaab refugee camp will close by November 2016

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni government representatives in Kuwait denied recent rumors that a peace deal would be reached in the coming days. Yemeni Minister of Information Mohammed Abdel Majid Qabati cautioned that Yemeni forces would move to take Sana’a if peace talks broke down, despite UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s confirmation that talks are proceeding. Al Houthi forces and forces aligned with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have recently clashed with pro-government fighters in northern Shabwah, Ma’rib, and al Jawf governorates along key roads into Sana’a.[1]
  • Yemeni special forces dismantled a reported al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) cell in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on June 1. Three Pakistani explosive experts were among those arrested. Both Yemeni and Emirati special forces are working to clear the coastal city of al Mukalla, which AQAP controlled from April 2015 until coalition forces stormed the city on April 24, 2016. ISIS has conducted a series of explosive attacks in al Mukalla since coalition forces entered the city.[2]
  • Iran deployed a military vessel from Bandar Abbas, a port in the Strait of Hormuz, to the Gulf of Aden as part of a military ceremony. The vessel was led by Admiral Habibollah Sayari, a commander in the Iranian Navy. The convoy consisted of the frigate “Lavan” and the destroyer “Martyr Admiral Naqdi.” They are part of the Artesh Navy’s 40th Fleet, which maintains a steady rotation in the Gulf of Aden.[3]
  • Al Houthi forces shelled a Yemeni military position in Midi, Hajjah governorate, located on the Red Sea near the Saudi-Yemeni border. Al Houthi-Saleh forces, Yemeni government forces, and popular resistances fighters have fought for control of Midi port since the beginning of the current conflict.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali special forces and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces supported by U.S. advisers attacked an al Shabaab base in the villages of Bulo Gadud and Farwamo, near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on May 31 and killed al Shabaab’s Lower Jubba regional commander, Mohamed Mohamud Kuno “Dulyadeyn.” Kuno masterminded the April 2015 al Shabaab attack on Garissa University in Kenya. Special forces conducted an air assault and exchanged fire with the militants. Al Shabaab withdrew from the territory and Ethiopian AMISOM troops retook the area. A Somali senior military official said the troops killed four al Shabaab members and three mid-level commanders including Kuno.[5]
  • The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) killed al Shabaab commander Yusuf Hagi in a joint operation last week, according to its Twitter account on June 1. Hagi was the head of al Shabaab’s intelligence unit, the Amniyat Brigade, and a close associate of al Shabaab’s emir Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah.[6]
  • Two suspected al Shabaab militants entered a kiosk and threw a hand grenade in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle region, killing two people and injuring two government soldiers on May 31. Somali security forces backed by AMISOM forces conducted security operations in Qoryoley and arrested several suspects. Suspected al Shabaab militants threw a grenade on a qat market in Qoryoley in March this year.[7]
  • Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery confirmed on May 31 that Kenya will close Dadaab refugee camp by November 2016 at the latest. Kenyan officials announced plans to close the camp on May 6, citing security concerns, and said the camp would close by May 2017.  The Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the closure of the camp and said it will increase the threat of terrorism, and Interim Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Madobe promised 10,000 hectares north of Kismayo for the resettlement of the camp’s 500,000 refugees.[8]

[1] “Yemen government officials dismiss reports of ceasefire deal,” Middle East Eye, June 1, 2016,
[2] “Arrest of an al-Qaeda cell in # Mukalla, including three Pakistanis,” Barakish, June 1, 2016,
[3] “Iranian military forces led by the commander of the navy heads to the Gulf of Aden in southern Yemen,” al Masdar, June 1, 2016,
[4] “Huthi forces bomb artillery positions in the army region 82, Midi,” al Masdar, June 1, 2016,
[5] “Jubbaland forces backed by commandos attack Al-shabaab base,” Goobjoog, June 1, 2016,; “Suspected U.S. troops attack Al Shabaab in Somalia,” Shabelle News, June 1, 2016,; “Update and Assessment: December 16, 2016,” AEI’s Critical Threat’s Project, December 16, 2015,; and Ahmed Kosar, Twitter, June 1, 2016,  
[7] “Security operation in Qoryooley nets several people,” Goobjoog, June 1, 2016,; and “One killed and two others injured in grenade attack at kiosk in Qoryooley,” Goobjoog, May 31, 2016,
[8] “Kenya announces Dadaab refugee camp will close by November,” Goobjoog, June 1, 2016,; and Gilbert Koch, “Dadaab refugees to be moved to a camp north of Kismayo,” The Star, June 1, 2016,
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