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: Qatar rift undermines anti-al Houthi campaign in central Yemen; protesters seek salary payments in Taiz city; AQAP kills al Houthi-Saleh fighter in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Emirati-backed security forces arrest suspected militant in Aden city; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack coalition forces in Hajjah governorate; Yemeni embassy in Qatar closes

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates VBIED at Wadajir District Headquarters in Mogadishu; local authorities target al Shabaab militants in Lego town, Lower Shabelle region; SNA forces capture al Shabaab intelligence head in Mogadishu; al Shabaab targets KDF forces along the Kenyan-Somali border; al Shabaab claims responsibility for unconfirmed attacks on AMISOM and SNA soldiers in Somalia; Somali Federal Government to scale back Mogadishu Stabilization Mission

Yemen Security Brief

The diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar weakens the internationally recognized Yemeni government’s coalition in central Yemen. Tribal forces withdrew from a battle against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate on June 20 to protest the inclusion of a local leader on a terror watch list released by Saudi Arabia on June 8. The list designated Abdulwahhab Muhammad Abdulrahman al Humayqani, the Secretary General of the al Rashad Union party and advisor to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as a terrorist facilitator for providing financial support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The list is among several actions taken by Saudi Arabia and other states against individuals and organizations supported by Qatar. The tribal forces’ retreat allowed al Houthi-Saleh forces to establish a position in southern al Bayda governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh forces then attempted to bomb a checkpoint controlled by Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in neighboring Lahij governorate on June 20, killing two civilians.[1]

Protesters demonstrated in Taiz city on June 19 to demand the payment of government salaries. The Hadi government has not paid most government employees’ salaries for ten months. The Trade Union Coordination Council organized the demonstrations and called for the Yemeni government to leave power if it fails to pay. Protesters burned an image of Prime Minister Obaid bin Daghir and chanted criticisms of government officials. Bin Daghir stated on March 16 that education, health, agriculture, and university employees would receive salaries.[2]

AQAP militants killed an al Houthi-Saleh fighter in al Jamajim area, southern al Bayda governorate on June 19. AQAP militants last attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Jamajim area on June 12 as part of a joint offensive with local tribal forces. AQAP seeks to control access to the main road that passes through southern al Bayda governorate into Abyan governorate, where AQAP also maintains a presence.[3]

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces arrested a suspected al Mihdhar Brigade militant in Sheikh Othman district, Aden city on June 20. Gunfire during the raid killed one civilian and wounded one al Hizam soldier. The al Mihdhar Brigade is a Saudi-backed Salafi militia that operates in southern Yemen. Al Mihdhar Brigade leadership denied any connection to the militant. The director of the Sheikh Othman district mediated an end to the fighting.[4] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Saudi-led coalition forces in Hajjah governorate, northwestern Yemen on June 19. Sudanese soldiers are among the coalition forces operating on the active frontline in Midi district, Hajjah governorate, where the coalition seeks to secure the northwestern Yemeni coast and land border.[5]

The Yemeni Embassy in Doha, Qatar closed on June 20. The internationally recognized Yemeni government cut diplomatic ties with Qatar alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE on June 5.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at the Wadajir District Headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 20. The attack killed over 20 people, mostly civilians. This marks the second mass-casualty VBIED attack in the capital in six days. Al Shabaab killed 31 civilians in a suicide VBIED attack at Posh Hotel and Restaurant on June 14.[7]

Local authorities launched a search operation targeting al Shabaab militants in Lego town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on June 20. Lego security officials are also attempting to deconstruct al Shabaab roadblocks in the region.[8]

Somali National Army (SNA) forces detained the head of al Shabaab’s intelligence operations, Abdiwahab Khalif Ahmed, in Bakara Market, Mogadishu on June 19. Somali security forces believe that Ahmed played an instrumental role in al Shabaab’s assassination campaign targeting government officials in the capital.[9]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) convoy in Gerrile town, Wajir County, eastern Kenya on June 19. The attack killed four soldiers and wounded several others. Al Shabaab claimed that the blast killed eight soldiers and wounded ten others. Al Shabaab also detonated an IED targeted a KDF convoy in Walcadey area near El Wak, Gedo region, Somalia on June 19. The attack killed two KDF soldiers and wounded several others. Al Shabaab has increased its attacks targeting Kenyan forces in an attempt to influence voters before Kenya’s general elections in August.[10]

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack targeting an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Halgan, Hiraan region, central Somalia on June 19. The group also claimed a raid on a SNA military barracks in Qasahdhere city, Bay region, southern Somalia on June 15.[11]

Somali Minister of Internal Security Mohamed Abukar announced that the Somali Federal Government (SFG) will reopen several small roads in the capital as part of a scaling-back of the Mogadishu Stabilization Mission on June 20. Somali security forces implemented road closures and checkpoints when the Stabilization Mission began on May 24. The operation seeks to prevent al Shabaab attacks and disrupt arms trafficking networks in the capital throughout the month of Ramadan. Security forces arrested over 250 suspected al Shabaab militants and supporters in the capital in the past month.[12] 

[1] “Two Killed in al Houthi Strikes Targeting Yafa,” Aden Tomorrow, June 20, 2017,; “Complete Collapse of the Hamikan Front and al Houthis Approach the Yafa Border to Begin Strikes,” Aden Tomorrow, June 20, 2017,; and
“Coup fighters kill two beekeepers,” Aden Lange, June 20, 2017,
[2] “Massive Demonstrations in Taiz Demand Quick Government Employee Salaries,” Barakish Net, June 19, 2017,; “Demonstration in Taiz Calls on the Yemeni Government to Pay Salaries or Leave Power,” Al Masdar Online, June 19, 2017,; and Hisham al Omeisy, Twitter, June 19, 2017,  
[3] Snipping Houthi fighters at 5:30 in the evening in al Jamajim area, Telegram, June 19, 2017; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’S Critical Threats Project, June 13, 2017,
[4] "Sporadic Confrontations in Aden after Security Forces Raided House in Omar al Mukhtar District,” Al Masdar Online, June 20, 2017,; and “al Mihdhar Brigade Denies Link to Clashes in Omar al Mukhtar District,” Aden Tomorrow, June 20, 2017,; and “A Number of Belt Soldiers in Captivity,” Aden Lange, June 20, 2017,
[5]“Targeting the sites of Saudi mercenaries in the desert of Midi,” Sabanews, June 20, 2017,; “Bombing the mercenaries of the Saudi army north of the Midi Desert,” Al Masirah, June 19, 2017,; “Dozens of Sudanese Soldiers and Mercenaries Killed in Midi Desert,” Al Masirah, June 17, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’S Critical Threats Project, May 23, 2017,
[6] “Yemen Embassy in Qatar Closes its Doors,” Barakish Net, June 20, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threat Project, June 5, 2017,
[7] “Loud car bomb explosion heard in Somali capital,” Shabelle News, June 20, 2017,
[8] “Security operations to nab Alshabab fighters in Lower Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, June 20, 2017,
[9] “Govt says captured Al-Shabaab intelligence head,” Shabelle News, June 19, 2017,
[10] “KDF officers injured in Wajir IED attack,” Daily Nation, June 19, 2017,; and “Two KDF soldiers killed in deadly Somalia explosion,” Shabelle News, June 20, 2017,
[11] “Shabaab claims Killing 10 Kenyan Troops in Separate Attacks, Striking AMISOM and SNA Forces in Seven Incidents,” Site Intelligence Group, June 19, 2017, available by subscription at
[12] “Closed roads in Mogadishu will be reopened: minister,” Shabelle News, June 20, 2017,

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