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: U.S. CENTCOM confirms airstrike targeting AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; al Houthi movement leader addresses Saudi Arabia; AQAP spokesperson continues video series; Saudi-led coalition targets al Houthi-Saleh faction in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen; IED targets deputy interior minister in Aden; Hadi government-aligned forces resume offensive in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. to establish permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia;  al Shabaab claims attack on Somali Police in Biyo Ade, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab detonates IED in Bardhere, Gedo region; Kenyan police launch counter-al Shabaab operation in Lamu County

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed on June 22 that a U.S. airstrike killed three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Shabwah governorate, southern Yemen on June 16. The strike killed one militant, Abu Khattab Saleh Baleed al Awlaqi, identified by CENTCOM as AQAP’s emir in Shabwah. Yemeni sources identified Abu Khattab as the deputy emir of AQAP in Shabwah. AQAP previously identified Sa’ad Atef al Awlaqi, who reportedly survived a U.S. strike in March 2017, as the emir in Shabwah. His status is unknown.[1]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi addressed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on June 23. Al Houthi warned Saudi Arabia that its policy in Yemen and its strategic relationship with the United States reduce its safety. The statement condemned the Saudi economic boycott of Qatar and expressed solidarity with Islamist movements that Qatar supports.[2]

AQAP spokesman Khaled Batarfi released the fifth episode of his series “Stories of the Prophets” on June 22. Batarfi urged Yemenis to remain committed to their faith in the face of hardship. The series is part of an attempt to strengthen AQAP’s relationship with Yemen’s tribal militias.[3]

Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Jawf governorate on June 23, killing 12 al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile at forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in southwestern al Jawf governorate on June 13. Hadi government forces are attempting to surround Sana’a city by seizing the major roadways connecting al Jawf to the capital.[4] 

Yemeni security forces foiled an assassination attempt targeting the Deputy Interior Minister, Major General Ali Nasser Lakhsha’, in Khormaksar district, Aden city on June 22. Security personnel dismantled an improvised explosive device (IED) near the minister’s home. Suspected AQAP militants killed the son of Major General Lakhsha’, Colonel Nasser Ali Nasser Lakhma’, in Lawder district, Abyan governorate in March 2017.[5]

Hadi government forces continued operations against al Houthi-Saleh forces in western Ma’rib governorate on June 22. Hadi government forces seized two major water wells in the area, killing 12 al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Hadi government forces operate in Sirwah district, western Ma’rib as part of broader effort to encircle Sana’a.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz stated that the U.S. will establish a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia with the opening of a new facility in Mogadishu in October 2017. The U.S. closed its embassy in Somalia in 1991 amid the Somali civil war.[7]  

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack targeting Somali police officers in Biyo Ade, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on June 23. Al Shabaab claims the attack killed two officers.[8]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near a qat chewing house in Bardhere, Gedo region, southern Somalia. The attack killed four Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers and one civilian.[9]

Kenyan police conducted a search operation targeting al Shabaab in Lamu County on June 22. The operation follows reports of an increased presence of armed al Shabaab militants in forested areas near Milihoi town. Al Shabaab frequently conducts IED and ambush attacks targeting Kenyan security forces in Lamu County.[10] 

[1] “Strike Against AQAP and Abu Khattab al Awlaqi in Yemen,” U.S. Central Command, June 22, 2017,; “Source: Casualty in U.S. airstrike in Shabwah a few days ago is Deputy Emir of the Organization,” Aden Tomorrow, June 23, 2017,; and demolinari, Twitter, June 22, 2017,    
[2] “al Houthi Leader Advises the Saudi Regime to Change its Policy toward Yemen and Warns of America,” Al Masdar Online, June 23, 2017,
[3] Pro-AQAP Telegram account releases video titled “Thanks for the blessings and their high quality,” June 22, 2017; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 23, 2017,
[4] “The death of the general supervisors of the Houthis in Basilan and 14 others,” Barakish, June 23, 2017,; and “The operations of the army, the Popular Committees, and the missile force have eroded enemy concentrations,” Saba News, June 13, 2017,
[5] “Attempted Assassination Targets Deputy Interior Minister in Aden,” Yemen Akhbar, June 22, 2017,; and “Guard of Deputy Interior Minister Dismantles Explosive near his Home in Aden,” Al Masdar Online, June 23, 2017,
[6] “Government forces control sites in western Marib,” Al Masdar Online, June 23, 2017,; “Army recovers all positions in the drug front amid the collapse of the Houthis,” Barakish, June 23, 2017,;  and “National Army troops liberated important sites in Mareb,” Yemen Akhbar, June 22, 2017,; and “Army exceeds the narcotic belt and up to Mount Marthad overlooking the Serwah,” Barakish, June 23, 2017,
[7] “US soon to have permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia,” Associated Press, June 23, 2017,
[8] Pro-all Shabaab Telegram account claims attack on Police in Biyo Ade, Middle Shabelle, June 23, 2017.
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 22, 2017,; and Pro-al Shabaab Telegram account claims IED targeted SNA soldiers in Bardhere, June 22, 2017.
[10] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Security Ops to Hunt Suspected Al-Shabaab Operatives Sighted in Milihoi, Lamu County,” Intelligence Briefs, June 22, 2017,

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