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 delivers cash to Aden for salary payments; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz city; AQAP video promotes May 10 SVBIED attack in Hadramawt; Hadi government issues directive against criticizing Saudi-led coalition states; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim two ballistic missile attacks on Hadi government forces

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims 13 attacks on security forces in six days; Somali security forces arrest suspected al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu; cholera outbreak reaches Togdheer region, northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claimed that a plane carrying “tens of billions” of Yemeni riyals printed in Russia arrived at Aden International Airport on June 1. The Hadi government stated that it will use the money to pay salaries. It reported on a similar shipment on January 6 but did not pay salaries at that time. The Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh bloc have not paid public sector salaries for roughly nine months.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz city, central Yemen on May 31. AQAP snipers killed al Houthi-Saleh troops guarding a military camp near the Presidential Palace and al Salal hill in eastern Taiz city. AQAP acknowledged an attack in Taiz for the first time since November 2016, though AQAP militants have fought in Taiz throughout the intervening period.  AQAP militants fight alongside the Abu Abbas brigade, a Salafi militia backed by the Saudi-led coalition that is leading an offensive to seize the Presidential Palace and surrounding area from al Houthi-Saleh forces.[2]

AQAP released a five-minute video about a May 10 suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on a Hadhrami Elite Forces base in Daw’an district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen. AQAP characterized the attack as revenge for crimes committed by the Hadhrami Elite Forces and framed the operation as the start of a “new phase” of AQAP’s fight against Emirati-backed forces in Hadramawt governorate.[3]

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir and Minister of Information Moamar Mutahar al Iryani called on the Yemeni media to refrain from criticizing members of the Saudi-led coalition on June 1. The statement may be a response to the Yemeni media’s criticism of Qatar and coverage of the feud between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in late May.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch “Zilzal-2” ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces stationed in Mawza district, western Taiz governorate on June 2, and Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on June 1. Neither attack is confirmed. Al Houthi-Saleh forces use ballistic missiles to slow the Hadi government’s advance and strike behind established front lines.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for 13 attacks in Kenya and Somalia in a six-day period on June 1. An al Shabaab-affiliated Telegram account praised the group’s attacks on security forces from May 26 through June 1 in a series of posts. The group claimed attacks on Somali National Army (SNA) forces throughout Somalia’s Middle and Lower Shabelle regions, Hiraan region, and Lower Juba region. The account also praised attacks on Kenyan forces in Bardhere in Gedo province, central Somalia. The group claimed to kill Ethiopian and Burundian soldiers in attacks throughout Somalia. Al Shabaab attacks on AMISOM contingents aim to prompt foreign forces to withdraw from Somalia.[6]

Somali security forces arrested more than 200 people suspected of supporting al Shabaab in Mogadishu on June 1. Security forces raided homes and businesses linked to suspected supporters and militants as part of an ongoing stabilization mission in the capital. Somali security forces have arrested nearly 250 al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu since the operation began in late May.[7]

Cholera infected more than 1,000 people in Burco town, Togdheer region, northern Somalia. City administrators responded to the outbreak by banning public gatherings and canceling school. Cholera has infected over 40,000 Somalis since December 2016.[8]

[1] “Presidential plane loaded with tens of billions of currency printed in Russia lands at Aden airport,” al Masdar, June 1, 2017,; and Malik Mikhlafi, Twitter, January 6, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces near the Presidential Palace and al Salal hill, Telegram, June 2, 2017; “Yemen’s al-Qaeda: Expanding the Base,” Crisis Group, February 2, 2017,; Michael Horton, “Fighting the Long War: The Evolution of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula,” CTC, January 23, 2017,; “UN Panel of Experts on Yemen,” January 31, 2017,; and “Yemen Crisis Situation Report,” Critical Threats, April 28, 2017,  
[3] “AQAP video shows suicide bombing on Yemeni Elite Forces in Hadramawt,” SITE, June 1, 2017, available by subscription at
[4] “A government directive not to prejudice or expose any of the coalition countries,” Mareb Press, June 1, 2017,; “Gulf Arab row rattles Trump’s anti-Iran axis,” Reuters, May 31, 2017,; and “How Qatar helped al Qaeda in Yemen through the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates,” Aden Tomorrow, May 27, 2017,
[5] “Missile strike hits mercenaries west of Taiz,” al Masirah, June 2, 2017,; and “Zilzal-2 strikes mercenaries in Nihm,” al Masirah, May 1, 2017,
[6] “Shabaab Claims 13 Attacks in Somalia and Kenya in Six Days,” SITE, June 1, 2017, SITE available by subscription at
[7] “Hundreds arrested in large Mogadishu Security Sweep,” Shabelle News, June 1, 2017,
[8] “Cholera Outbreak Infection Reaches 1000 in Burco Town,” Goobjoog News, June 2, 2017,, and Mohammed Yusuf, “ Cholera Outbreak Compounds Hunger Crisis in Southern Somalia,” Voice of America,

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