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: Yemeni prime minister says government will remain in Aden until Sana’a is liberated; UAE foreign minister retracts statement that UAE combat role in Yemen nearly finished; U.S. House of Representatives votes down ban on cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia; President Obama to meet with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants kill four in IED blast in Golweyn, Lower Shabelle region; Ethiopian AMISOM forces prepare for military operations in Hiraan Region; UN report suggests up to 5,000 child soldiers fighting in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Daghir met with Southern Movement leaders and other political representatives at the Presidential Palace in Aden on June 16. He declared that the Yemeni government will not leave Aden until Sana’a and all occupied Yemeni governorates are freed from al Houthi control. Southern Movement leaders laid out key concerns that included electricity, water, salaries and corruption.[1]
  • Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash retracted his June 16 statement that the UAE’s combat role in Yemen is nearly over and claimed that his words were taken out of context. He defended the UAE’s continuing military role in Yemen, explaining that Iranian “interference” necessitated military action. He reminded critics that the goals of the initial operation were threefold, including returning Yemen to the political track, restoring a legitimate government to Yemen, and countering Iranian influence. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan quoted Gargash’s initial statement on Twitter before the retraction.[2]
  • The U.S. House of Representatives defeated a bill to ban the sale of controversial cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia on June 16. The Department of Defense urged representatives to vote down the bill to avoid ‘stigmatizing’ cluster munitions. Numerous countries have banned the use of cluster munitions, and prominent human rights organizations have strongly condemned their use. The White House recently placed a temporary moratorium on sales of the munitions to Saudi Arabia on May 27.[3]
  • U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman in Washington D.C. on June 17 to discuss the conflict in Yemen, along with other regional issues including the fight against ISIS in Syria. The White House has expressed concern over civilian casualties in Yemen and is advocating for a political solution from the ongoing Kuwait peace talks. President Obama last met with senior Saudi officials at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh on April 21.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Golweyn, Lower Shabelle region on June 16. The attack, which targeted an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy, killed at least four individuals, including two female civilians. The militants engaged the convoy with small arms fire after the initial blast. [5]
  • Ethiopian AMISOM forces conducted military training exercises throughout the Hiraan region on June 17. The exercises are in preparation for an upcoming clearing operation aimed at al Shabaab fighters. The planned operation is most likely a response to al Shabaab’s complex attack on the Ethiopian AMISOM base in Halgan, Hiraan region on June 9 that reportedly killed 60 AMISOM soldiers.[6]
  • The United Nations Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Fund (UNICEF) suggested there may be as many as 5,000 child soldiers currently fighting in Somalia. Al Shabaab has expanded its recruiting efforts as its force has been depleted by AMISOM and SNA operations, as well as U.S. airstrikes. UNICEF noted that children in displaced persons camps are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by radical militant groups. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced his decision to close the 320,000-member Dadaab refugee camp, which houses primarily women and children, this week.[7]

[1] “Bin Daghir says that his government will remain in Aden until the liberation of Sanaa, and urges the Southern Movement to leave "minor differences," al Masdar, June 17, 2016,; and Mohammed Basha, Twitter, June 17, 2016,
[2] UAE minister denies earlier statement that 'war is over' in Yemen,” Middle East Eye, June 17, 2016,
[3] “Worried About “Stigmatizing” Cluster Bombs, House Approves More Sales to Saudi Arabia,” The Intercept, June 17, 2017,; and “Exclusive: White House blocks transfer of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Policy, May 27, 2016,  
[4] “Obama to meet Saudi deputy crown prince on Friday: White House,” Reuters, June 16, 2016,
[5] “AMISOM troops’ convoy targeted in blasts, 4 dead,” Shabelle News, June 16, 2016,
[6] “SNA, Ethiopian troops carry out operation in Hiiraan,” Shabelle News, June 17, 2016,
[7] “Number of Child Soldiers in Somalia May Top 5,000, UN Reports,” Goobjoog News, June 17, 2016,   
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