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: Yemeni government transfers brigades from Aden to al Houthi-Saleh frontline; former Prime Minister Bahah travels to al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate; AQAP kills al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Hadi government-aligned forces continue offensive in Ma’rib governorate; Saudi-led coalition forces target al Houthi-Saleh positions in Hajjah governorate, northwest Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Saudi-led coalition fighters in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases propaganda video dedicated to late leader Ahmed Abdi Godane;  al Shabaab claims to repel unconfirmed U.S.-AMISOM raid; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Kenyan AMISOM convoy in El Wak, Gedo region; ISIS-linked militants clash with villagers in Qandala town, Bari region; severed fiber optic cables create Internet outage throughout Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government deployed nine combat brigades from Aden to the al Houthi-Saleh frontline in south-central Yemen on June 27. Yemen’s military command confirmed that some brigades will move to seize Mukayras city, located on the al Bayda-Abyan governorates border. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is currently the primary force fighting alongside tribal forces against the al Houthi-Saleh bloc in this area. Mukayras is located on a major road network that leads to Sana’a city. Elements of this nine-brigade deployment are also traveling to Taiz governorate to support the ongoing offensive against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz city and northern Mokha district.[1]  

Khaled Bahah, former Yemeni prime minister and vice president, traveled to al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate on June 26. He announced the reopening of the al Rayyan Airport, which had been closed since the start of Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen in March 2015. Bahah recently held a meeting in Saudi Arabia with southern political leaders and is reportedly close to Emirati leadership. President Hadi removed Bahah from his government positions in April 2016.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants killed nine al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Dhi Na’im, central al Bayda governorate on June 27. AQAP militants last attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im on May 23. The majority of AQAP’s claimed attacks in June occurred in al Bayda governorate.[3]

Hadi government forces continued an operation against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate on June 27. Yemeni Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammed al Maqdashi visited the front in Sirwah district and praised the help of the local al Jada'an tribes on June 24. Hadi government-aligned forces are preparing for an offensive on Sana’a city.[4] 

Saudi-led coalition forces targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in Hajjah governorate, northwest Yemen on June 26 as part of a broader operation to secure the Saudi-Yemeni border. Coalition forces launched airstrikes and artillery into Midi district, northwest Hajjah governorate, killing several al Houthi-Saleh fighters. The Saudi-led coalition shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in Midi district on June 14. Coalition aircraft also dropped leaflets into neighboring Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on June 27 that called on residents to support the internationally-recognized Yemeni government.[5]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed five fighters loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi near al Hazm city in southwestern al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on June 27. This is the second attack on forces loyal to President Hadi in southwestern al Jawf governorate since al Houthi Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile at Hadi government forces on June 13.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab released an 84 minute-long propaganda video titled, “The March of Steadfastness” on June 26. The video is a biography dedicated to the group’s late leader Ahmed Abdi Godane (Mukhtar Abu Zubair). A U.S. airstrike killed Godane in early September, 2014. The video revealed the first clear photos of Godane.  Al Shabaab deputy leader Mahad Karate, group spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage (Ali Dheere), and other al Shabaab officials appeared in the video. The video follows al Shabaab’s release of a series of photos showing Eid celebrations in areas the group controls.[7]  

Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers raided an al Shabaab stronghold in Mahday town, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on June 27. SNA forces seized Mahday town from al Shabaab militants in the offensive. Al Shabaab claimed it repelled the attack. The group’s Shahada News Agency stated al Shabaab militants repulsed a joint U.S.- African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operation targeting the group in Mahday town on June 27. The group also claimed it inflicted casualties on U.S. and AMISOM forces in the attack. The U.S. Department of Defense has not commented on the unconfirmed attack. Al Shabaab falsely claimed to repel SNA, AMISOM, and U.S. forces in the Lower Shabelle region on June 10.[8]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Kenyan AMISOM convoy in El Wak, Gedo region, southern Somalia on June 27. Militants attacked AMISOM forces with small arms fire after detonating the IED. Al Shabaab militants killed four AMISOM soldiers in the attack. [9]

Reported Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants renewed clashes with villagers in Qandala town, Bari region, northern Somalia on June 26. This marks the second ISIS attack targeting villagers in Qandala in three days. Reported ISIS militants clashed with residents on June 24.[10]

An unidentified ship severed underwater fiber optic cables off the coast of Somalia on June 25, creating an internet outage throughout Somalia. The outage prevents government agencies and news organizations from accessing and disseminating information throughout the country. It is estimated that the outage will continue for at least one week.[11]

[1] “A Military Source for ‘Aden Lange’ Confirms the Imminent Launch of Forces to Liberate Mukayras,” Aden Lange, June 26, 2017,; “9 Combat Brigades to Complete the Liberation of Taiz,” Al Manatiq, June 27, 2017,; and “Al Qaeda’s Base in Yemen,” Maher Farrukh, June 20, 2017,  
[2] “Former Prime Minister Bahah Returns to Hadramawt and Announces the Return of al Rayyan Airport,” Al Masdar Online, June 26, 2017,; and “Yemeni president sacks prime minister, appoints new senior team: state media,” Reuters, April 3, 2016,
[3] Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, June 27, 2017,; and Killing 9 Houthis and injuring others in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, June 27, 2017.
[4] “The Yemeni army is regaining strategic areas and preparing to expel the militias from the Ma’rib side,” Aden Tomorrow, June 27, 2017,; and “Al Maqdashi visits the front in Sirwah district after the army’s great victories,” Al Masdar Online, June 24, 2017,
[5] “Hajjah...Tens of al Houthi-Saleh forces Killed and Wounded by Coalition Artillery Bombardment and Strikes,” Barakish Net, June 26, 2017,; and “The Yemeni army is regaining strategic areas and preparing to expel the militias from the Ma’rib side,” Aden Tomorrow, June 27, 2017,
[6] “Death and injury of 12 mercenaries in clashes in al Jawf,” Sabanews, June 27, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 23, 2017,
[7] “Shabaab Reveals Face of Mukhtar Abu al-Zubeir in Video Biography of Former Leader,” SITE, available by subscription at; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 26, 2017,
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 27, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims to repel joint U.S. and AMISOM attack in Middle Shabelle region, Telegram, June 27, 2017.
[9] “Four KDF soldiers killed in land mine blast in Somalia,” Shabelle News, June 27, 2017,
[10] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 27, 2017,; and "Gulf of Aden Security Review," AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 26, 2017,
[11] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 25, 2017,

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