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 governor of al Hudaydah discusses plans to retake al Hudaydah city; al Houthi reinforcements arrive in al Hudaydah city; al Houthi forces claim to down Saudi-led coalition helicopter in Jizan region, Saudi Arabia; AQAP criticizes Saudi Crown Prince and entertainment and sports authorities

Horn of Africa: Protesters demonstrate against government corruption in Nairobi; Somali president calls for religious tolerance among Kenyans; al Shabaab assassinates youth leader in Mogadishu; Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and opposition groups begin talks to amend anti-terrorism law; Amnesty International calls for elimination of Somali regional state police unit

Yemen Security Brief

Hadi government al Hudaydah Governor al Hassan Tahir discussed the Saudi-led coalition’s plan for retaking al Hudaydah city in an interview with Asharq al Awsat newspaper on June 1. Tahir stated that coalition-backed forces plan to advance toward al Hudaydah city from the south and the southeast and will allow al Houthi forces to withdraw from the north of the city. Coalition forces also plan to seize control of the road leading from al Hudaydah to Bajil city, which will prevent al Houthi reinforcements from entering al Hudaydah from Sana’a governorate. Bajil city is northeast of al Hudaydah city and is situated along the main road leading from Sana’a city to al Hudaydah city. Coalition-backed forces are currently amassing in al Durayhimi city, 20 kilometers south of al Hudaydah city.[1]

Al Houthi reinforcements led by al Houthi military commander Abu Ali al Hakim arrived in al Hudaydah city from Sana’a and Dhamar governorates on June 1. Al Hakim is the second-in-command of al Houthi military forces. Al Houthi forces clashed with Saudi-led coalition-backed forces six kilometers south of al Hudaydah International Airport on May 30.[2]

Al Houthi forces claimed to down a Saudi-led coalition helicopter near Jahfan in southeastern Jizan region, Saudi Arabia on May 31. Jahfan is located on the Saudi-Yemeni border near the Hajjah and Sa’ada governorate border. The Saudi-led coalition has not confirmed the attack and the al Houthi movement did not provide evidence of the claim.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) al Malahem Media Foundation published its third al Madad bulletin on May 31, criticizing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi entertainment and sports authorities. AQAP cited examples of moral degradation and “sin” imported from the West, including the opening of movie theaters and a WWE wrestling event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against widespread government corruption and delivered a petition to the office of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kenya on May 31. The protests were in response to reports that senior government officials stole $90 million from the National Youth Service (NYS). The NYS is a Kenyan paramilitary and civilian volunteer organization. Kenyans have previously criticized President Kenyatta for not taking action against corrupt officials in the past. He currently faces mounting public outrage over a number of government corruption scandals.[5]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo called for tolerance among Kenyans of different faiths and encouraged Kenyans to not let al Shabaab divide them in Nairobi, Kenya on May 31. President Farmajo was in Kenya for a one-day visit where he held bilateral talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.[6] 

Al Shabaab assassinated a youth activist in Mogadishu on May 31, according to local sources. Al Shabaab also released a video depicting fighter training at a camp, assassinations in Mogadishu, and bombings of AMISOM forces in the Lower Shabelle region on May 31.[7]

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition and opposition groups began talks to amend provisions of a 2009 anti-terrorism law on May 30. Critics say the government has used the law’s broad definition to arbitrarily target government critics and criminalize dissent.[8]

Amnesty International called for the Ethiopian government to remove and disband the Somali regional state’s Liyu police unit for extrajudicial killings in the neighboring Oromia region on May 31. The Somali state set up the unit as a counter-terrorism special force. The Liyu police unit’s operations in Oromia caused hundreds of deaths and displaced over one million people in 2017. The Oromo-Somali clashes began in 2016 over territorial disputes between Oromo and Somali communities.[9]

[1] “Governor of al Hudaydah to {Sharq al Awsat}: Storming the city from the south to secure oil installations,” Sharq Al Awsat, June 1, 2018,
[2] “Violent collapses in the al Houthi ranks..and panic in al Hudaydah city,” Aden Lang, June 1, 2018,; and The latest Yemen news - the arrival of Abu Al governor to al Hudaydah at the head of a large force,” 7adramout, June 1, 2018,
[3] “Defense source: Dropping an Apache aircraft and quality victories on various fronts,” Saba, May 31, 2018,
[4] “AQAP Condemns Saudi Entertainment and Sports Authorities, Points to WWE Event in Jeddah as Example of ‘Sin,’” Site Intelligence Group, May 31, 2018, available by subscription at; AQAP’s al Madad Media Foundation Releases Third Bulletin, Telegram, May 31, 2018.
[5] “Hundreds of Kenyans in the capitol march against corruption,” Associated Press, March 31, 2018,; Catherine Soi, “Kenyans protest over $90m missing from National Youth Service,” Al Jazeera, May 31, 2018,; and “Head of Kenya youth agency arrested in $78m corruption scandal,” BBC, May 28, 2018,
[6] “Don’t Let Al-Shabaab Divide You, Farmaajo Tells Kenyan Christians & Muslims,” Radio Dalsan, Reuters, May 31, 2018,
[7] “Somalia: Somalia Youth Activist Shot Dead in Mogadishu,” Garowe, May 31, 2018,; and “Al Shabaab Releases Video of Fighter Training, Assassinations in Mogadishu and Bombings in Lower Shabelle,” SITE, May 31, 2018, available by subscription at
[8] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopian government and opposition start talks on amending anti-terrorism law,” Reuters, May 30, 2018,
[9] “Ethiopia: Police unit unlawfully killing people must be stopped,” Amnesty International, May 31, 2018,

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