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: Hadi government foreign minister denies participation in Oman ceasefire talks; Aden Security Forces assume control of Aden International Airport under UAE orders; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch counteroffensive in Mokha district, western Taiz governorate; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate; Hadhrami Elite Forces seize anti-tank missiles in eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Fafi town, Garissa County, Kenya; al Shabaab commander defects to SNA; al Shabaab assassinates military officer in Mogadishu; al Shabaab calls U.S. the “Satan of our time”

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi denied reports that he engaged in ceasefire negotiations with the al Houthi-Saleh bloc in Oman. Mikhlafi stated his meeting in Oman only covered bilateral relations between the two countries. An Omani official stated that Oman mediated negotiations between al Mikhlafi and al Houthi representatives based on the UN’s ceasefire proposal in late May.[1]

Aden Security Forces assumed control of Aden International Airport on June 1 after clashes between rival Yemeni forces that receive Saudi and Emirati patronage. Aden Security Forces Director Shalal Ali Shaye’a relieved Aden International Airport security director Saleh al Amri of duty after receiving orders from the Emirati commander in Yemen, Major General Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed.  Shaye’a’s appointment reflects frustration with al Amri and his militia after nearly four months of tension over control of the airport. The UAE announced a plan to rehabilitate and maintain the airport on June 1.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a counterattack against Hadi government forces in Mokha district, western Taiz governorate on May 31. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Jebel Nabidah, near Camp Khaled ibn Walid, and claimed to kill twenty fighters loyal to the Hadi government. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted the attacking al Houthi-Saleh forces, killing nine. The attack marks an uptick for fighting in Mokha district, where front lines have not shifted significantly since Hadi government forces began an offensive on nearby al Hamali village on May 18.[3]

AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces on two separate occasions in southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. AQAP militants ambushed an al Houthi-Saleh vehicle on May 30 and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Houthi-Saleh armored vehicle on June 1 near Mash’aba village, southern al Bayda. AQAP fights alongside anti-al Houthi tribal militias in central Yemen to promote itself as the defender of Sunnis in Yemen.[4]

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces seized several thermal anti-tank missiles during a raid in Daw’an district, eastern Hadramawt governorate on May 31. Hadrami Elite Forces uncovered the missiles during a raid on the homes of individuals connected to “terrorist elements,” according to a press release issued by security forces. The press release also includes pictures of what appear to be 9M14 Malyutka wire-guided anti-tank missiles. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) conducted multiple attacks targeting Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an district in May.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided Fafi town, Garissa County, eastern Kenya on May 31. The militants burned down a school and abducted two teachers during the attack, in which they used small arms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). They also destroyed a Safaricom telecommunication mast in the area to disable Kenyan police communication. Al Shabaab killed nine police officers in two attacks in neighboring Lamu County, Kenya on May 31.[6]

A senior al Shabaab commander named Abshir Mumin Farah defected to the Somali National Army (SNA) in Hiraan region, central Somalia on June 1. Al Shabaab deployed Farah to Hiraan region to conduct attacks during Ramadan. He is the first al Shabaab leader to defect to the Somali government since President Mohamed Farmajo assumed office in April.[7]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated the Chief of the Somali Military Ambulance service in Mogadishu, Somalia on May 31. The militants shot Abdullahi Radiyow outside his house near the former U.S. Embassy. Somali security forces arrested several suspects after the killing. This marks the fourth assassination in Mogadishu in 24 hours.[8]

Al Shabaab called the United States the “Satan of our time” in a 55-minute long video titled “They Are Not Welcome.” The propaganda video features speeches from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. It also highlights al Shabaab’s January 2017 attack on a Kenyan military base in Kolbio, southern Somalia. The video includes calls for jihad against Kenya and states that the war in Africa is part of al Qaeda’s global conflict against the West. Al Shabaab released “They are Not Welcome” through the Global Islamic Media Front on May 30.[9]

[1] “Mikhlafi: No Omani mediation to resume peace consultations,” al Masdar, June 1, 2017,
[2] “Two fighters killed during clashes that closed Aden Airport,” al Masirah, May 31, 2017,; “Breaking: Aden Security Forces officials reveal details of Aden Airport events,” Aden Lange, June 1, 2017,; “Prime Minister stresses the need to avoid further bloodshed in the battle for Aden Airport,” Sabanew, May 31, 2017,; and “UAE launches the second phase of the rehabilitation of Aden International Airport,” June 1, 2017,
[3] “Death and injury of 68 mercenaries east of Mokha in Taiz,” Sabanews, June 1, 2017,; “7 dead and 9 injured Houthis after air strikes destroy vehicles in western Taiz,” al Masdar, June 1, 2017,; and “Army continues its advance on western Taiz,” Aden Lange, May 18, 2017,
[4] AQAP claims its militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces near Mash’aba village, al Bayda governorate, Telegram, June 1, 2017.
[5] Leadership of the Second Military Region, Facebook, May 31, 2017,
[6] “Al Shabaab abducts two teachers near Garissa,” Shabelle News, June 1, 2017,
[7] Harun Maruf: “Al Shabaab Commander Defects to Somali Forces,” Voice of America, May 31, 2017,; and “Top Alshabaab fighter Defects to the Government,” Goobjoog News, June 1, 2017,
[8] “Gunmen kill head of Somali Ambulance service,” Shabelle News, May 31, 2017,
[9] Thomas Joscelyn: “Shabaab claims US is ‘Satan of our time,’ praises al Qaeda’s leadership,” Long War Journal, May 31, 2017,

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