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: Saudi Arabia sends a mediator to Tehran to discuss Yemen conflict; UN begins capacity-building exercise for local de-escalation committees; UN reports 10,000 Yemeni children died of preventable diseases since beginning of current conflict; al Houthis attempt to advance in Shabwah and al Dhaleh governorates

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab conducts complex attack on the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu; Pentagon confirms death of al Shabaab’s senior military commander Abdullahi Haji Da’ud; Kenyan-backed Interim Jubbaland forces kill a civilian during a land dispute in the Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Saudi Arabia sent a mediator to Iran to discuss the conflict in Yemen on June 2. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr prompted protesters to burn the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran.[1] 
  • The UN began a capacity building exercise for the local deescalation committees on June 2, according to UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. These committees are staffed by local individuals and are tasked with reporting ceasefire violations to a national de-escalation and coordination committee. Fighting along frontlines has increased in past weeks despite the current ceasefire, which began on April 10. [2]     
  • The UN reported on June 1 that 10,000 Yemeni children have died from preventable diseases since March 2015 because of the near-total collapse of the healthcare system in Yemen. The current conflict has exacerbated malnutrition and reduced access to basic health and sanitation services. [3]   
  • Al Houthi forces attempted to retake Safra, Shabwah governorate from government forces on June 2. Fifteen al Houthis and six popular resistance fighters were killed in the clashes and 10 others were wounded. Houthi shelling also killed two civilians and wounded 10 others in Maris, al Dhaleh governorate.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device(SVBIED) at the gates of the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu on June 1. Three gunmen then stormed the hotel and  killed at least 16 people, including  two Somali members parliament (MPs), and wounded at least 55 others. Security forces rescued 10 people, including three MPs. Al Shabaab carried out a similar attack on the Somali Youth League (SYL) Hotel in Mogadishu on February 26, killing at least 19 people. The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) foiled an attempted al Shabaab complex attack on a hotel in Wardhigley district, Mogadishu on April 22.[5]   
  • Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed on June 1 that a U.S.airstrike killed senior al Shabaab military commander Abdullahi Haji Da’ud on May 27. The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) announced Da’ud’s death on its Twitter account on June 1, referring to Da’ud as Yusuf Hagi and announcing that he was killed in a joint operation. Da’ud was the head of al Shabaab’s intelligence unit, the Amniyat Brigade, and a close associate of al Shabaab’s emir Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah.[6]          
  • Kenyan-backed Interim Jubbaland forces killed at least one person in Dal’ada village, Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on June 2, during a shooting over a land dispute. The Interim Jubbaland administration has been accused of crimes against humanity in the past, including attacking civilians.[7]

[1] “Foreign Ministry of Iran continues to talk about with Saudi Arabia to resolve the problem #Yemen,” Barakish, June 2, 2016,
[3]“UN: 10,000 Yemeni children died from disease this year,” Al Bawaba, June 2, 2016,
[4] “Shabwah...15 Houthi and 6 resistance fighters killed in continuous battles in Safra region,” Al Masdar, June 2, 2016,; “2 people killed and 10 others wounded in continuing battles in Maris, north Dhaleh,” Al Masdar, June 2, 2016,
[5] “Al-Shabab hits Hotel Ambassador in Somalia’s Mogadishu,” Al Jazeera, June 2, 2016,; “Somalia attack: MPs among dead in hotel blast and gun raid,” BBC, June 1, 2016,; and “Who are the two Somali lawmakers killed in the Ambassador Hotel attack?,” Goobjoog, June 2, 2016,     
[6] “Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on U.S. Airstrike in Somalia,” U.S. Department of Defense, June 1, 2016,; and NISA, Twitter, June 1, 2016,
[7] “Jubbaland soldiers open fire on civilians in Kismayo,” Shabelle News, June 2, 2016,  
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