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 militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; Emirati-backed forces detain suspected militants in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; cholera kills nearly 200 Yemenis in less than a week; Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills five civilians in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to launch ballistic missile targeting Hadi government-aligned forces in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab raids AMISOM base in Biyo Ade, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab spokesman calls for Kenyan military withdrawal from Somalia; U.S.-led counter-piracy coalition to increase presence in Bab al Mandab Strait; inter-clan clashes kill four people in Galgudud region

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on June 12. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jamajim area, southern al Bayda governorate. AQAP reported that its militants fought alongside local tribal forces in the attack. AQAP also distributed a photoset of its militants firing artillery pieces and heavy machine guns. AQAP militants last attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jamajim area on June 11 as part of an effort to control access to the main road through al Bayda into Abyan governorate, where AQAP also maintains a presence.[1]

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces detained several suspects on terrorism charges in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on June 13. Al Hizam forces conducted arrests in Zinjibar and Ja’ar cities, southwestern Abyan. Suspected AQAP militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting the convoy of the security director of Abyan governorate near Zinjibar on June 7. Demonstrators frequently protest against Emirati-backed forces for arbitrarily detaining young men on terrorism charges.[2]

Cholera continues to spread in Yemen. The outbreak killed nearly 200 Yemenis in less than one week, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO reported on June 12 that cholera has infected a suspected 124,000 people and caused 923 deaths in Yemen since April 27. The ongoing civil war has damaged the majority of Yemen’s medical facilities, making cholera treatment more difficult.[3]

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed five civilians in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen, on June 13. Coalition warplanes struck a house in al Khokha district, near the al Hudaydah-Taiz governorate border. The strike killed a child and four other members of a family. The Saudi-led coalition is conducting an air campaign in southern al Hudaydah to weaken al Houthi-Saleh forces ahead of an offensive that aims to take control of Yemen’s western coast.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in the al Jarr area in southern al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on June 13. The strike is unconfirmed. An al Houthi-Saleh government news agency also reported on a ballistic missile launch targeting nearby al Mutawan area in al Jawf on May 26. Hadi government forces are attempting to seize and secure the main roadways crossing through al Jawf into Sana’a city as part of a larger strategy to surround the capital.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Biyo Ade district, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on June 13. Militants fired mortars at the base before clashing with AMISOM soldiers. The raid follows a joint Somali National Army (SNA)-AMISOM security operation targeting al Shabaab strongholds in Lower Shabelle region on June 10.[6]

Al Shabaab released a propaganda video featuring a speech by al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage in which he urges the Kenyan government to withdraw its military forces from Somalia. The group released the 16-minute video, titled “An Analysis of Events,” through the Global Islamic Media Forum on June 12. Ali Mohamed Rage also threatens an “unrelenting war” against non-Muslims in Kenya in his speech at a foreign fighter graduation ceremony. Al Shabaab released a video on May 22 featuring the first part of Rage’s address at the ceremony.  Al Shabaab is conducting a campaign of propaganda and attacks in eastern Kenya to encourage the public to support military withdrawal from Somalia before Kenya’s general elections in August.[7]

A U.S.-led counter-piracy naval coalition announced on June 12 that it will increase its presence in the Bab al Mandab Strait. The announcement follows increased Somali pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden in the past three months. The coalition also seeks to protect passing vessels from attacks by al Houthi fighters in Yemen. International naval deployments to the Gulf of Aden drastically decreased piracy in the region after it peaked in 2011. Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker near Puntland in March 2017, marking the first hijacking since 2012.[8]

Clan militiamen clashed in Kahan-Dhale village, Galgudud region, central Somalia on June 13. The inter-clan clashes killed four civilians.[9] 

[1] AQAP claims its militants fought alongside tribal forces against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jamajim, al Bayda, Telegram, June 12, 2017.
[2] “Security #Abyan carried out a number of arrests in Zinjibar and Ja’ar,” Aden Lang, June 13, 2017,
[3] WHO Yemen, Twitter, June 12, 2017,
[4] “Killing a child and wounding four members of one family from an alliance air raid in al Khokha,” al Masdar, June 13, 2017,; and “Yemen Crisis Situation Report,” Critical Threats, March 23, 2017,
[5] “The operations of the army, the Popular Committees, and the missile force have eroded enemy concentrations,” Saba News, June 13, 2017,
[6] “​Somalia: Militants raid AMISOM base in Biya Ade,” Garowe Online, June 13, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” Critical Threats Project, June 12, 2017,
[7] “Shabaab Spokesman Tells Kenyan Government to Withdraw, Public to Embrace Islam or face Unrelenting War, SITE Intelligence Group, June 12, 2017, available by subscription at; and The Editors, “Threat Update Situation Report,” Critical Threats Project, June 7, 2017,
[8] “Int’l naval coalition step up fight against Somali Pirates,” Shabelle News, June 13, 2017,; and Abdiqani Hassan, “Somali pirates suspected of hijacking Tuvalu-flagged ship - security source,” Reuters, April 8, 2017,
[9] “Four people killed in central Somalia over clan revenge,” Shabelle, June 13, 2017,

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