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 King appoints Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince; U.S. State Department updates AQAP terrorist designation; fighting in Taiz city exacerbates cholera epidemic; ISIS releases photoset of attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; gunmen rob Aden bank

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IED targeting government official in Mogadishu; military court sentences three al Shabaab suspects in Baidoa, Bay region; Sudan hires U.S. lobbying firm to advocate for removal of sanctions; Puntland security forces fire mortars at al Shabaab stronghold in Galgala mountains

Yemen Security Brief

The king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, appointed his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince on June 21. Bin Salman will continue to oversee the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Bin Salman, formerly the deputy crown prince, replaces former crown prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, King Salman’s nephew. Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi praised bin Salman’s appointment and Saudi-led coalition efforts in Yemen.[1]

The U.S. State Department amended the designation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) to include additional front groups on June 21. AQAP’s proxies include Sons of Abyan, Sons of Hadramawt, Sons of Hadramawt Council, Civil Council of Hadramawt, and National Hadramawt Council. The U.S. State Department stated that AQAP uses these proxies to provide governance in areas under its control. The U.S. State Department first designated AQAP as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2010.[2]

Fighting between al Houthi-Saleh forces and Hadi government-aligned militias escalated in Taiz city on June 21. Forces loyal to the Hadi government seized control of strategic highlands from al Houthi-Saleh forces near the village of Rahbah in southern Taiz city on June 21. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled a restaurant in western Taiz city on June 21, killing two civilians and wounding six others. Ongoing fighting has weakened medical infrastructure and exacerbated the growing cholera epidemic in Yemen. Taiz city’s largest government hospital closed on June 21 due to insufficient operational capabilities. Nearly 2,000 new cases of cholera are recorded in Yemen each day, according to the World Health Organization. [3]

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda released a photoset on June 20 depicting attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Laqah village, northwestern al Bayda governorate on June 18. One photo shows an ISIS fighter firing a truck-mounted weapon and the other displays a collection of weapons, ammunition, and food supplies seized from al Houthi-Saleh forces. ISIS militants cooperated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants during the attack. AQAP conducted an attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in a neighboring village in al Bayda governorate on June 16.[4]

Gunmen robbed al Omgy Bank in Sheikh Othman district, Aden city on June 20. Men wearing masks and military uniforms broke into the bank and stole $80,000, according to bank management. The bank’s parent company is al Omgy and Brothers Money Exchange. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the company’s two owners, Said Salih Abd Rabbuh al Omgy and Muhammed Salih Abd Rabbuh al Omgy, as financial supporters of AQAP on November 1, 2016.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a government vehicle in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 21. The attack targeted a Deynile district official named Ali Osman Wehliye, who survived. The attack killed one civilian and wounded two others. Al Shabaab detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting a Wadajir district office in Mogadishu on June 20, killing nearly 20 people.[6]

A military court in Baidoa sentenced three suspected al Shabaab militants in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on June 21. The court found the militants guilty of murdering an electoral delegate named Sheikh Mohamed Madeer in Baidoa on June 15. The court sentenced one suspect to death and two suspects to life imprisonment. Al Shabaab initiated an assassination campaign targeting electoral delegates and government officials after President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared war on the group in April 2017.[7]

The Sudanese government hired the U.S. lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs on June 20 to urge the U.S. State Department to lift sanctions on Sudan. The U.S. sanctioned Sudan due to its support for terrorist organizations and war crimes committed in Darfur. The Trump administration can begin to lift sanctions on Sudan starting on July 12 if it determines that Sudan has made progress in ceasing support for terrorism and upholding international law.[8]

Puntland security forces fired several mortars targeting al Shabaab strongholds in the Galgala mountains in northern Somalia on June 21. Puntland security forces claimed to destroy an al Shabaab base, killing dozens of militants. Al Shabaab seized Af Urur town in the Galgala mountains on June 8.[9]

[1] “Saudi Arabia Rewrites Succession as King Replaces Heir With Son, 31,” New York Times, June 21, 2017,; “Saudi Monarch Issues Decree Appointing Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince and Exempting bin Nayef from his Duties,” Al Masdar Online, June 21, 20187,; “Yemeni President Sends a Congratulatory Message to Mohammed bin Salman on the Occasion as his Appointment as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Al Masdar Online, June 21, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 15, 2017,
[2] “State Department Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of Hizballah and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula,” U.S. Department of State, June 21, 2017,
[3] “The largest government hospital in Taiz announced that it was shut down due to a lack of capability,” Al Masdar Online, June 21, 2017,; “Eight civilians were killed and wounded by the shelling of the Houthis on the west of the city of Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 21, 2017,; “Government forces control positions in al Qadha west of Taiz following battles against the Houthis,” Al Masdar Online, June 21, 2017,; and “Death toll reaches 1,170 in Yemen cholera outbreak; over 170,000 suspected cases, says WHO,” First Post, June 21, 2017,
[4] Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 20, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 19, 2017,
[5] “20 Million Riyals Robbed from al Omgy Bank in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, June, 20, 2017,; and “Treasury Designates Financial Supporters of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, November 1, 2016,
[6] “One Dead, Two Injured in Landmine blast in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, June 21, 2017,
[7] “Military court sentences 3 for killing Elder in Baidoa,” Shabelle News, June 21, 2017,
[8] “Sudan Hires U.S. Lobbyist to Roll Back Sanctions,” Foreign Policy, June 20, 2017,
[9] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Puntland Security Forces Fires Several Mortars At Al-Shabaab Hideouts In Galgala Mountains,” Intelligence Briefs, June 21, 2017,

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