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: Houthi attack kills one at Abha airport in Saudi Arabia; pro-STC crowd rallies following clashes in Shabwah; STC intends to form Elite Force in Mahrah

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian security forces kill Ethiopian army general suspected of leading coup against the Amhara State regional government; Somali special forces seize El Salin in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants attack border patrol outpost in Garissa County; Sudanese protesters accept political transition plan; Somali Galmudug State President accepts regional elections

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement attacked Abha International Airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on June 23. The attack killed one person and injured seven others. A Houthi spokesman said that the group launched multiple drone attacks on Abha and Jizan airports in southern Saudi Arabia on June 23. The Houthis fired a likely Iranian cruise missile at Abha airport on June 12, injuring 26 people. The Houthi movement has escalated attacks against Saudi targets amid a broader regional escalation between Iran and the US and Gulf states. The US, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE released a statement on June 24 expressing concern for rising tensions in Yemen and the Gulf of Oman and calling on Iran to cease escalatory actions.[1]

Protesters in Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen rallied in support of the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) and the Shabwani Elite Forces on June 24. The march follows clashes between the Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces and the Hadi government-aligned 21st brigade, led by Hadi government Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, in Shabwah between June 19 and June 21.[2]

The STC released a statement on June 19 calling for the people of Mahrah, Yemen’s easternmost governorate, to forego cooperation with opponents of southern independence. The Emirati-backed STC also stated its intent to form a Mahri Elite Force. The statement reflects a competition for influence that has intensified since Saudi military forces deployed to Mahrah in 2017.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian security forces killed the Ethiopian army brigadier general Asemnew Tsige in a firefight on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, the regional capital of the Amhara State, on June 24. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy stated that Tsige led the attempted coup against the Ethiopian Amhara State regional government on June 22. Unidentified individuals killed Amhara State regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and his adviser, Ezez Wassie, during a meeting in Bahir Dar on June 22. The attack also injured the Amhara state attorney general Migbaru Kebede, who died from his injuries on June 24. A bodyguard also killed the Ethiopian National Army Chief of Staff General Seare Mekonnen and a retired major general in General Seare’s home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, on June 22. Prime Minister Abiy stated that the assassination was connected to the coup attempt in the Amhara state. Ethiopia’s internet was disconnected following the attacks on June 22.[4]

Somali Danab special forces and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops seized El Salin town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia in a joint operation on June 24. Somali National Army (SNA) forces also cleared Koban village in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on June 24. SNA forces killed one al Shabaab militant and seized two vehicles during the operation. Al Shabaab militants ambushed Somali Southwest State regional security forces near Bur Eyle village in Bay region, southern Somalia on June 22. Five al Shabaab militants and 11 Somali security forces were killed in the clash.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a border patrol post in Yumbis town, Garissa County in northeastern Kenya on June 22. The militants seized firearms and vandalized a Safaricom mast. Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) killed three militants.[6]

Sudanese protesters accepted a proposal for political transition on June 23. The plan, put forward by the Ethiopian envoy, would create a civilian majority governing body consisting of eight civilians and seven members of the military. The Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) rejected the plan on June 24. The TMC stated that the Ethiopian and African Union envoys needed to unify their efforts and submit a joint proposal.[7]

The Somali Galmudug State regional president Ahmed Haaf stated that he expects regional elections to be held on time next month in a letter issued on June 23. Haaf’s administration previously reached an agreement with the paramilitary group Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a (ASWJ) that his administration would end in 2021. He stated that this agreement is broken and that his dispute with the Somali Federal Government (SFG) has ended. Haaf left his residence in Dhusamareb, the Galmudug regional capital in northern Somalia, shortly after issuing the statement.[8]

Visit our Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan story streams.

[1] “Saudi Airport Struck by Deadly Attack,” Associated Press, June 23, 2019,; U.S. Department of State, “Joint Statement by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States on Yemen and the Region,” June 24, 2019,; and Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, “Threat Update,” June 20, 2019,

[2] “A strong statement by the mass crowd of the sons of Shabwah,”, June 24, 2019,; and Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” June 21, 2019,

[3] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 22, 2019,

[4] Elias Meseret, “Ethiopia says plotter of failed coup is killed by military,” Associated Press, June 24 2019,; “Ethiopia security forces kill alleged coup leader,” Al Jazeera, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 23, 2019,; “Internet shutdown in Ethiopia amid reports of attempted coup,” NetBlocks, June 22, 2019,

[5] “Al Shabaab pushed out of ‘strategic’ town in southern Somalia,” Garowe, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 24, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 24, 2019,; “Somali forces clash with al Shabaab, 7 killed,” Mareeg, June 22, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 22, 2019,

[6] “Police kill 3 al Shabaab in foiled attack on Yumbis Camp,” Daily Nation, June 22, 2019,; “Al Shabaab militants attack Garissa police post, torch camp,” Radio Kulmiye, June 22, 2019,

[7] “Sudan protesters accept Ethiopia plan for political transition,” Hiiraan, June 23, 2019,; “Sudan’s military rejects Ethiopia’s transition proposal,” Hiiraan, June 24, 2019,

[8] “Somalia: Galmudug leader flees his residence amid bid to oust him” Garowe, June 24, 2019,; “President Haaf accepts regional elections, says Galmudug and Ahlu Sunnah Agreement is ‘broken,’” Goobjoog, June 24, 2019,

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