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: Russia opposes UN Security Council statement on Yemen; Saudi-led coalition confirms al Houthi-Saleh attack on Emirati ship in Red Sea; Hadi government-aligned forces continue offensive on Yemen’s western coast; IED attack targets police station in al Dhaleh city; AQAP releases two videos and claims attack on al Houthi-Saleh fighter in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab conducts mass-casualty attack in Mogadishu; Qatar withdraws peacekeeping troops from Horn of Africa; clan militiamen renew clashes along Hiraan-Galgudud border

Yemen Security Brief

Russia objected to a United Nations Security Council draft statement on Yemen on June 15. The statement called for the stationing of international observers in al Hudaydah port and the opening of Sana’a International Airport for humanitarian purposes. Russia objected to a paragraph calling on al Houthi-Saleh forces to cease ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia. Russia also opposed a clause calling for the al Houthi-Saleh faction to enter dialogue with the United Nations to pursue a political settlement for al Hudaydah port.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition acknowledged the al Houthi-Saleh attack on an Emirati ship near the coast of Taiz, western Yemen, on June 14. Saudi media reported that al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a “guided missile” at the ship, causing minor damage to the ship and one injury. Al Houthi-Saleh forces previously struck an Emirati warship with a surface-to-ship missile and fired missiles at the USS Mason near the Bab al Mandab Strait in October 2016.[2] 

Forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government continued two offensives in Taiz governorate. Coalition-backed forces seek to gain control of the Taiz-al Hudaydah road as part of a larger operation to control Yemen’s western coast. Coalition forces shelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in Mokha district, western Taiz governorate on June 14, killing seven al Houthi-Saleh troops and wounding ten others. A coalition airstrike struck a house in al Khokha district, western Taiz governorate on June 13. Inside Taiz city, coalition forces destroyed an al Houthi-Saleh tank near the presidential palace in eastern Taiz city on June 14. Hadi government-aligned militias seized the presidential palace from al Houthi-Saleh forces on June 12.[3]

Militants detonated an IED at a Hadi government-controlled police station in northern al Dhaleh city, southwestern Yemen on June 14. The attack killed two people, including the director of the police department, and wounded three others.[4]      

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released two videos in a period of 24 hours. The first video eulogizes Abu Hadi al Bayhani, who was killed in an air strike on October 21, 2016 in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen. The second video features AQAP senior spokesman and former AQAP emir in Abyan governorate Khaled Batarfi. He criticizes the Saudi-led coalition for waging a war on Islam by including Islamic scholars on terror watch lists. This video is Batarfi’s second in one week. He condemned the recent U.S.-Saudi arms deal and urged Yemenis to continue fighting against forces aligned with the U.S. on June 11. AQAP also claimed an attack on an al Houthi-Saleh fighter on a motorcycle in southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on June 15. AQAP propaganda seeks to advance a narrative that the group protects Yemen’s Sunni population against U.S.-backed forces and the al Houthi movement.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the gates of the Posh Hotel in Hodan district, Mogadishu, Somalia on June 14. Gunmen then stormed the hotel and the Posh Treats and Pizza House restaurants, where they took at least 50 hostages. Somali National Army (SNA) forces secured the area after a standoff. Al Shabaab killed 31 people, including many Kenyans and Ethiopians who worked at Pizza House. This marks the second major attack on civilians in Mogadishu this year. Al Shabaab targeted civilians in Mogadishu with attacks on Wadajir market on February 19 and Daydah hotel on January 25.[6]

Qatar withdrew its peacekeeping troops from Djibouti and Eritrea on June 14. Qatar maintained approximately 450 soldiers along the Djiboutian-Eritrean border. Eritrea deployed soldiers to the border crossing replace the Qatari forces. Eritrea severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 14 after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and several other Arab states cut ties with Qatar on June 8. Djibouti also downgraded its relations with Qatar, though it maintains a low level of diplomatic cooperation. Qatari peacekeepers deployed to the Horn of Africa following a border war between Djiboutian and Eritrea in 2008.[7]

Clan militiamen clashed in Benyaley town along the Hiraan-Galgudud border in central Somalia on June 15. This marks the third inter-clan clash along the Hiraan-Galgudud border in three days. Clashes over access to grazing territories have killed at least 11 people in three days.[8]

[1] “Russia Objects to Security Council Statement Calling for Deployment of International Observers in al Hudaydah and the Opening of Sana’a Airport,” Barakish Net, June 15, 2017,
[2] “The Coalition Supports Legitimacy in Yemen: Emirati Ship Exposed to Missile Attack off the Coast of Yemen,” Saudi Press Agency, June 15, 2017,; “Coalition: Emirati Ship Attacked by Guided Missile as it Exited Port of Mokha,” Barakish Net, June 15, 2017,; and “Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason,” The Critical Threats Project, October 19, 2016,
[3] “The alliance destroys an al Houthi tank in Taba al-Salal, east of the city of Taiz,” Barakish, June 15, 2017,; and “7 Houthis killed and 10 wounded by coalition fighters on positions west of Taiz province,” Al Masdar Online, June 14, 2017,
[4] “Five people were killed and injured in an explosion at a police station,” Barakish, June 14, 2017,; and “Director of the Department of Moral Guidance and Public Relations in Al-Daly tells the details of an explosion targeting a police station in the governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, June 15, 2017,
[5] Dr. Elisbeth Kendall, Twitter, June 15, 2017,; and “AQAP OFFICIAL BATARFI REGARDS ‘TERRORISM LISTS’ AS EVIDENCE OF ALLEGED U.S.-LED WAR ON ISLAM,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 15, 2017, available by subscription at
[6]  Hussein Mohamed and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “Shabab Kill 31 and Take Hostages in Somalia’s Capital,” The New York Times, June 14, 2017,; “Somali Soldiers end Deadly al Shabaab restaurant siege,” Shabelle News, June 15, 2017,; ”Somalia: Car bomb targets a popular hotel in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, June 14, 2017,; “Suicide bomb in market in Somalia capital kills 39,” Reuters, February 19, 2017,; and “Bomb and gun attack on Mogadishu hotel kills dozens,” The Guardian, January 25, 2017,
[7]  “Qatar withdraws troops from Djibouti-Eritrea border mission, “ Hiraan Online, June 14, 2017,; and Malak Harb and Elias Meseret, “Qatar pulls all its troops from Djibouti-Eritrea border,” ABC News, June 14, 2017,
[8] “Tribal clashes flares up once again in Banyaaley, Hiran region,” Goobjoog, June 15, 2017,

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