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: AQAP attacks Emirati-backed forces in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP spokesman condemns U.S.-Saudi relationship; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda releases photoset; Russian ambassador to Yemen meets with President Hadi; UN Special Envoy meets with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen; Sudan announces additional military deployments to Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. airstrikes target al Shabaab training camp in Middle Jubba region; Kenyan airstrikes target al Shabaab in Gedo region; al Shabaab conducts IED attack on SNA convoy in Mogadishu; al Shabaab assassinates four government officials in Mogadishu; SNA soldiers clash at food distribution site in Baidoa; al Shabaab claims responsibility for two attacks in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked a Yemeni military camp with a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) in Daw’an district, central Hadramawt governorate on June 12. The attack killed two members of the Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces. Military sources reported at least ten AQAP casualties. Hadhrami Elite Forces detained multiple AQAP militants and Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched airstrikes on militant positions near the targeted camp. AQAP carried out a SVBIED attack on Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an district on May 10.[1]

AQAP senior spokesman and former AQAP emir in Abyan governorate Khaled Batarfi released a 15-minute video on June 11. Batarfi condemned the recent U.S.-Saudi arms deal and urged Yemenis to continue fighting against forces aligned with the U.S. He reinforced the narrative that AQAP is the only viable protector of Sunnis against U.S.-aligned troops and Shia al Houthi-Saleh forces.[2] 

AQAP militants claimed two attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. The first attack killed two al Houthi-Saleh troops in a village near Hammat Sarar, northwestern al Bayda governorate on June 11. The second attack targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in a village near al Jamajim, southern al Bayda governorate on June 11.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham’s (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda released a photoset promoting garrison life during Ramadan on June 11. The photos show weapons, the breaking of the daily fast, and the evening prayer. Wilayat al Bayda distributed a photoset of a sniper training course on June 4 and claimed an attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on May 30.[4]

Forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government advanced on several fronts in Taiz governorate. Hadi government-aligned militias seized the presidential palace in eastern Taiz city from al Houthi-Saleh forces on June 12, culminating a 21-day offensive. Hadi government-aligned forces also took control of al Silw, a strategic site in southeastern Taiz government near the Taiz-Aden road, on June 10.[5]

President Hadi met with the Russian Ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Dedushkin on June 11 to discuss Russia’s economic and humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni government. The Russian government has increased its involvement in Yemen since early 2017. The Hadi government seeks to use Russian-printed riyals to pay salaries to soldiers and government workers.[6]

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller on June 12. Tueller reaffirmed American support for the UN mission. Ould Cheikh Ahmed issued a statement on a successful trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 10. He praised efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict. The UN mission will move to Amman, Jordan to increase its neutrality in negotiations. Al Houthi-Saleh leadership declared Ould Cheikh Ahmed a persona non grata in Yemen and accused him of bias toward Saudi Arabia on June 5.[7]

Sudanese Minister of Defense Ali Salem announced plans to send more troops to Yemen on June 10. Salem emphasized Sudan’s commitment to “returning legitimacy to the Yemeni government.” Sudanese troops train security forces in Aden city and fight on active fronts in Taiz and Hajjah governorates. Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed 21 Sudanese troops in Midi district, Hajjah governorate on May 26.[8]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting an al Shabaab training camp near Sakow, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on June 11. The airstrike killed eight al Shabaab militants. The attack supports intensified Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operations targeting al Shabaab strongholds throughout southern Somalia. SNA and AMISOM forces launched an offensive against the group in Lower Shabelle region on June 10 and have since secured Janale, Barire, and Mubarak towns. Al Shabaab claimed to repel an attack by Somali, AMISOM, and U.S. forces in the Lower Shabelle region on June 10.[9]

Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) jets conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in Garas Dulan, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on June 12. Garas Dulan is near El Adde town, where al Shabaab militants briefly seized a KDF base on June 3 and killed approximately 60 Kenyan soldiers in a raid in January 2017. The airstrike follows an al Shabaab attack on KDF along the Kenyan-Somali border on June 11. Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a KDF convoy in Liboi, Garissa County, eastern Kenya and claimed to kill seven KDF soldiers in the attack. Kenyan security forces also arrested six al Shabaab militants and seized landmines, four suicide vests, and explosive chemical powder near Burhanche, western Somalia on June 11. Al Shabaab claimed to raid a Kenyan military base in Hozingow town along the Kenyan-Somali border. Al Shabaab killed approximately 20 Kenyan security officers along the Kenyan-Somali border in the past three weeks.[10]

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting an SNA convoy near Banadir junction in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 11. SNA soldiers opened fire on a crowd of civilians in response to the attack, causing an unspecified number of casualties. Al Shabaab also detonated an IED targeting a SNA convoy in Barire, Lower Shabelle region on June 10. The attack killed five SNA soldiers and wounded six others as they left Barire town following a security operation targeting al Shabaab. The group also claimed to ambush AMISOM soldiers in Jalaweyn town near Bulu Marir, Lower Shabelle region on June 8.[11] 

Al Shabaab militants assassinated four government officials in Mogadishu on June 10 and 11. Al Shabaab militants assassinated two electoral delegates and an SNA soldier in the capital. Militants also assassinated a government tax collector in Dharkenley Market in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab intensified its assassination campaign in response to the Somali government’s “Mogadishu Stabilization Mission,” which began on May 24.[12]  

SNA soldiers clashed at a food distribution site at a refugee camp in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on June 9. Several SNA soldiers attempted to steal food at the distribution site, but other SNA soldiers stopped them. The clashes killed 14 civilians and wounded at least 20 others. Baidoa hosts approximately 142,000 internally displaced persons amid severe drought conditions in Somalia.[13]

[1] “Suspected Al Qaeda Militants Attack Yemen Army Camp, 12 Dead: Military Official,” US News and World Report, June 12, 2017,; “Breaking: Violent Explosion Rocks Baddah Military Camp in Hadramawt and Violent Clashes Follow,” Aden Lange, June 12, 2017,; AQAP claims attack on Yemeni military base in Hadramawt, Telegram, June 12, 2017; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 10, 2017,” Critical Threats Project, June 12, 2017,
[2] “Khalid Bin Omar Batarfi condemns the US and urges Yemenis to continue fighting,” Telegram, June 11, 2017; “AQAP official Batarfi remarks on Saudi reception for Trump, urges Yemen tribes battle U.S. troops on ground,” SITE, June 11, 2017, available by subscription at
[3] “AQAP claims attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate,” Telegram, June 11, 2017; “AQAP claims attacks on Yemeni army camp in Hadramawt, strikes on al Houthis in in al Bayda’, Ibb, Taiz,” SITE, available by subscription at
[4] Paweł Wójcik, Twitter, June 11, 2017,; and Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 11, 2017,
[5] “Photos of the Army inside the main building of the Republican Palace in Taiz,” Barakish, June 12, 2017,; and “Government forces claimed control of the last strongholds of the Houthis in the south of Taiz, al Silw district,” Al Masdar Online, June 10, 2017,
[6] “Hadi meets Russian ambassador to Yemen… What did they say?” Hadramout, June 11, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEIs Critical Threats Project, June 9, 2017,
[7] UN Envoy to Yemen, Twitter, June 12, 2017,; UN Envoy to Yemen, Twitter, June 10, 2017,; and “Yemen rebels reject UN envoy as mediator in conflict,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2017,
[8] “Sudan Announces its Intention to Send New Defense Forces to Yemen in the War against the al Houthis,” al Masdar Online, June 10, 2017,; and “Sudan is Preparing to Send New Defense Forces to Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, June 12, 2017,  
[9] Pentagon Spokesman Dana W. White, “Pentagon Statement on Somalia Strike,” US Department of Defense, June 11, 2017,; “US military claims airstrike kills militants in Somalia,” Shabelle News, June 12, 2017,; “Somali, AU forces begin fresh war on Al shabaab, ”Shabelle News, June 10, 2017,; and “Shabaab Claims Repelling U.S. Attack in Lower Shabelle, Destroying Three Vehicles, ”SITE Intelligence Group,June 10, 2017, available by subscription at
[10] “KDF jets carry out air raid in Southern Somalia town,” Shabelle News, June 12, 2017,; “IED blasts hit KDF military convoy near Somali border,” Shabelle News, June 11, 2017,; “Kenya foils terror attack planned by Somali militants,” Shabelle News, June 12, 2017,; and “Shabaab Claims Repelling U.S. Attack in Lower Shabelle, Destroying Three Vehicles, ”SITE Intelligence Group, June 10, 2017, available by subscription at
[11] “Massive bomb blast hits army convoy in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, June 11, 2017,; “Roadside bomb hits army convoy pulling out of Barire,” Shabelle News, June 10, 2017,; and “Shabaab Claims Repelling U.S. Attack in Lower Shabelle, Destroying Three Vehicles, ”SITE Intelligence Group, June 10, 2017, available by subscription at
[12] “An electoral delegate shot dead in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, June 11, 2017,; and “Gunmen kill 2nd electoral delegate in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, June 11, 2017,
[13] “14 killed as soldiers clash over food aid in Baidoa city,” Shabelle News, June 9, 2017,

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