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: United Nations Security Council releases presidential statement on Yemen; AQAP spokesman emphasizes importance of forgiveness; al Houthi-Saleh forces imprison political opponents; China pledges aid to Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED strikes civilian bus in Mandera County, Kenya; al Shabaab claims assassination of Somali intelligence officers in Mogadishu; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting security forces in Balad, Middle Shabelle region; Eritrean president blames United States for Ethiopian border tensions

Yemen Security Brief

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) released a presidential statement on Yemen on June 15. The statement called on Yemeni factions to comply with international humanitarian law.  It stressed the importance of access to Sana’a International Airport and al Hudaydah port to confront the spread of cholera and famine. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the al Houthi-Saleh faction would voluntarily transfer control of al Hudaydah port to a third party. The UNSC reaffirmed its support to the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, whom the al Houthi-Saleh faction designated as a persona non grata on June 5, and called for an inclusive peace process in which 30 percent of negotiators are women. The statement also urged Yemenis to counter the ideological threat posed by terrorist groups. The statement calls on the al Houthi-Saleh faction to cease attacks on Saudi Arabia. The language reflects revisions following Russia’s objection to draft language criticizing al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia on June 15.[1] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior spokesman and former AQAP emir in Abyan governorate Khaled Batarfi emphasized the importance of repentance and forgiveness in a seven-minute video released on June 15. The video is part of a new AQAP series on the “Stories of the Prophets.” Batarfi appeared in three AQAP videos this week.[2] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces kidnapped a former Islah parliamentarian in Rada’a, al Bayda governorate on June 15. Al Houthi militias also claimed to arrest a former tribal leader loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in southern Sana’a city on June 15. Al Houthi fighters also arrested 80 of his supporters. Unconfirmed reports identified the arrested leader as a member or former member of the Sanhan tribe, to which Saleh belongs.[3]

Chinese Ambassador to Yemen Tian Qi pledged 4.4 million USD in relief aid to Yemen on June 15. The aid package, signed with Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Dr. Mohammed al Saadi, includes 7,500 tons of rice. Yemeni ministers expressed their hope for Chinese medical assistance to cope with the current cholera epidemic. The Chinese ambassador stressed his support for the internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[4] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a civilian passenger bus at Sheikh Barrow area, Mandera County, Kenya on June 16. The attack killed four passengers and wounded 11 others. Police personnel were aboard the bus. Al Shabaab released a propaganda video on June 12 threatening a “perpetual war” in Kenya.[5]

Al Shabaab claimed to assassinate a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officer in Mogadishu on June 16. The group also claimed to wound another NISA officer in the unconfirmed attack. The claimed assassinations come one day after al Shabaab militants stormed a hotel in the capital, killing 31 civilians.[6] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting Hirshabelle State soldiers in Balad, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on June 15. The attack killed four soldiers and wounded seven others. Balad is located approximately 20 miles north of Mogadishu.[7]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki accused the U.S. of instigating border tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia on June 16. President Afwerki asserted that the United States committed “injustices” against Eritrea, citing the UNSC sanctions against Eritrea for supporting al Shabaab in 2009. The Ethiopian government blames the Eritrean government for facilitating anti-government protests in Ethiopia’s Oromo region in November 2015.[8]

[1] “Security Council Issues Presidential Statement Calling on Parties in Yemen to Engage Constructively in Good-Faith Effort for Conflict Resolution,” United Nations, June 15, 2017,; “Statement by the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, June 15, 2017,; and “U.N. Security Council urges warring Yemen parties to agree port control,” Reuters, June 15, 2017,
[2] The first episode: the importance of repentance, Telegram, June 15, 2017; Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 16, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEIs Critical Threats Project, June 15, 2017,
[3] “Houthi militants kidnap former parliamentarian from the Islah Party in the city of Rada’a,” Al Masdar Online, June 15, 2017,; “Houthis arrested a prominent tribal leader loyal to Saleh and a number of armed men south of Sana’a,” Al Masdar Online, June 15, 2017,; and “Criminal Mokhtar al Kushaybi, 80 elements arrested,” Sabanews, June 16, 2017,; and “Heinous crime committed by Sheikh Mukhtar and his gang Alakecaba,” Motabaat, June 16, 2017,
[4] “Saadi and Chinese Ambassador Sign 30 Million Yuan Aid Grant,” Sabanew, June 15, 2017,; and “Chinese Ambassador Looking into Providing Relief Assistance to Yemen,” Sabanew, June 15, 2017,
[5] “Four dead as passenger vehicle hits IED in Mandera,” Standard Digital, June 16, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, “Kenya police statement regarding Friday's #IED explosion in Mandera county which killed 4, injured 11,” Twitter, June 16, 2017,
[6] Al Shabaab claims assassination of NISA officer in Mogadishu, Telegram, June 16, 2017.
[7] “3 soldiers killed in landmine blast in Somalia,” Hiraan Online, June 15, 2017,
[8] “Eritrea-Ethiopia border tensions persist due to US meddling - President Afwerki,” Hiiraan Online, June 16, 2017,; and “Security Council Imposes Sanctions on Eritrea over Its Role in Somalia, Refusal to Withdraw Troops Following Conflict with Djibouti,” United Nations, December 23, 2009,

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