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: President Hadi replaces southern governors and military commanders; AQAP kills al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition warplanes strike al Houthi-Saleh forces in western Taiz governorate; clashes continue in southwest Saudi Arabia; UAE intercepts al Houthi-Saleh rockets over Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attempts to intimidate former group commander in Bakool region; al Shabaab releases propaganda video to recruit foreign fighters; al Shabaab claims it attacked U.S.-backed forces in Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab clashes with SNA troops in Gedo region; al Shabaab claims attacks on Somali security forces in Mogadishu; Somali security forces construct roadblocks in Mogadishu amid Stabilization Mission; human rights report blames al Shabaab for spike in Severe Acute Malnutrition in Hiraan region; Puntland accuses Somaliland of supporting al Shabaab

Yemen Security Brief

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi dismissed the Hadramawt, Shabwah and Socotra governors on June 28. The three relieved governors are members of the Transitional Political Council for the South, an Emirati-backed representative body that rivals the Hadi government. Hadi did not dismiss Lahij governor Nasser al Khubaji or al Dhaleh governor Fadhl al Jadi, who are also members of the Council. Khubaji served as acting President of the Council and has denied that it is an opposition group to the Hadi government. Former Aden Governor Aydarus al Zubaidi, whom Hadi ousted earlier this year, presides over the Council. President Hadi appointed Major General Faraj Salemin al Bahsani, second regional military commander in southeast Yemen, Brigadier General Ali bin Rashid al Harthi, former deputy governor of Shabwah, and ِAhmed Abdullah al Socotri as the new governors of the Hadramawt, Shabwah, and Socotra governorates, respectively. President Hadi also replaced a number of military commanders on June 28. Hadi appointed Major General Saleh Qaid al Zindani as Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major General Nasser Abdullah Nasser Ruwais as Head of Operations of the Armed Forces, and Major General Ahmad al Qasr Salem Saeed as fourth regional military commander.[1]  

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Mashabah area, north of al Bayda city, central al Bayda governorate on June 28. The attack killed six al Houthi-Saleh fighters, including a commander. AQAP militants targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im, al Bayda governorate on June 27, killing nine.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition continued airstrikes against al Houthi-Saleh forces in western Taiz governorate on June 29. Coalition warplanes struck Maqabanah district and Mawza’ city, Mawza’ district, killing eight al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Saudi-led coalition warplanes killed 15 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Mawza’ district, Taiz governorate on June 24. These strikes are components of a larger operation to control Yemen’s western coast.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces and Saudi border guards exchanged fire in Najran and Jizan regions, southwestern Saudi Arabia on June 29. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill six coalition fighters with an anti-tank guided missile in Najran area. Al Houthi-Saleh forces and coalition fighters exchanged artillery fire in Jizan region. Coalition forces shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sa'ada governorate, northern Yemen and dropped leaflets in the area urging residents to support the Hadi government.[4]

The UAE’s air defense system intercepted multiple al Houthi-Saleh BM-27 Uragan rockets fired towards Saudi-led coalition forces stationed near Ma’rib city, Ma’rib governorate on June 29. Hadi-aligned government forces advanced west in Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate by gaining control of a road in al Nasib al Ahmar area that leads directly to Sana’a city.[5] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab reportedly deployed militants to Abal Village, Bakool region, central Somalia to intimidate former al Shabaab Deputy Leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur) on June 28. Robow has reportedly protected several al Shabaab defectors in Bakool region. Regional security forces deployed to Abal Village to “reinforce” Robow’s militia. The U.S. Department of State removed its $5 million bounty for Robow on June 23. Robow is reportedly planning to defect to the Somali government. Robow distanced himself from the group due to disagreements with late al Shabaab emir Ahmed Abdi Godane, killed in a U.S. airstrike in early September 2014. Godane accused Robow of maintaining excessive “clannist” beliefs, contrary to Godane’s global ambitions.[6]  

Al Shabaab’s al Kata’ib Media Foundation released a propaganda video urging Kenyan Muslims to join al Shabaab in Somalia if they are unable to launch attacks at home on June 29. The video marks the third part of the group’s “An Analysis of Events” series, which features the final portion of al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage’s (Ali Dhere) speech at a foreign fighter graduation ceremony. [7]

Al Shabaab clashed with Somali National Army (SNA) forces in Ali Foolhere village, Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on June 29. The group claimed U.S. military personnel were supporting the SNA soldiers. Al Shabaab claimed it killed three SNA soldiers and wounded seven others. This marks the second clash in Mahday in three days. Al Shabaab claimed U.S. forces supported a joint African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)-SNA raid on June 27.[8]

Al Shabaab clashed with SNA troops in Laheley village, Gedo region, southern Somalia on June 29. Al Shabaab also attacked SNA forces in Jungal village, Gedo region on June 28. SNA soldiers killed two al Shabaab militants in the clashes. Al Shabaab also attacked Kenyan AMISOM and SNA soldiers in Bardhere, Gedo region, Somalia on June 28. The group claims it killed ten soldiers in the attack.[9]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) convoy in Taredishe district, Mogadishu, Somalia on June 29. Local reports stated that the attack wounded two civilians, although al Shabaab claims it killed five NISA officers in the attack. The group also claimed it assassinated an SNA military trainer in Wadajir district, Mogadishu on June 29.[10]

Somali security forces constructed several checkpoints and roadblocks near Bakara Market in Mogadishu on June 29 in an attempt to enhance security in the capital. The construction of these roadblocks is part of the ongoing Mogadishu Stabilization Mission, which began on May 24. The Somali Federal Government launched the operation to prevent al Shabaab attacks in the capital during Ramadan.[11]

A report by Save the Children accused al Shabaab of obstructing humanitarian aid distribution throughout Hiraan region, central Somalia. Save the Children found that nearly six percent of the population in Mataban district, Hiraan region suffers from Severe Acute Malnutrition as a result of intense drought conditions and al Shabaab’s obstruction of humanitarian efforts. Al Shabaab often constructs roadblocks and detonates IED’s targeting SNA and other humanitarian officials in southern and central Somalia to disrupt the government’s ability to distribute aid.[12]

Puntland Minister of Security Abdi Hirsi Ali Qarjab accused  Somaliland government officials of supporting al Shabaab in the Galgala mountains in northern Somalia. The Puntland Administration also claimed that al Shabaab maintains training camps in Somaliland. Somaliland Minister of Information Abdullahi Osman Sahardid Adani denied the allegations.[13]

[1] “Yemen president Mansour Hadi appoints three new governors,” Al Arabiya, June 29, 2017,; “Hadi Ousts Three Governors who Announced Their Support for the Southern Transitional Council,” Al Masdar Online, June 29, 2017,; and “Hadi appoints al Zindani as Deputy Chief of Staff and Ruwais for Operations and al Basar as commander,” Al Masdar Online, June 29, 2017,
[2] Six al Houthi-Saleh fighters killed by IED, Telegram, June 29, 2017; “Al Houthi Commander and Several Companions Killed in Bomb Attack on his Convoy in al Bayda,” Al Masdar Online, June, 29, 2017,; and Killing 9 Houthis and injuring others in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, June 27, 2017.
[3] “Coalition Aircraft Strike al Houthi-Saleh Reinforcements in Maqabanah and Mawza’ in western Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 29, 2017,; and “15 al Houthis Killed and 22 Wounded in Coalition Fighter Strikes in Mawza’ district, western Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 24, 2017,
[4] “Renewed confrontations between the al Houthis and the Saudi army north of Sa’ada governorate and the coalition drops leaflets,” Al Masdar Online, June 29, 2017,; and “Six Saudi soldiers killed in Najran,” Sabanews, June 29, 2017,
[5] “UAE air defense intercepts ballistic missile in Ma’rib,” Aden Tomorrow, June 29, 2017,; and “Ma’rib: The National Army Controls al Nasib al Ahmar and Death of an al Houthi Supervisor in Sirwah,” Barakish, June 29, 2017,
[6] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Al-Shabaab Terrorists ‘Hunting Former Commander’,” Intelligence Briefs, June 29, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 29, 2017,; Nathaniel Horadam and Jared Sorhaindo, “Mukhtar Robow,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project,
[7] “Shabaab Spokesman Calls for East African Muslims to Migrate, ‘Join Hands to Expel the Disbelievers’,” SITE Intelligence Group, available by subscription at
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 29, 2017,; Al Shabaab claims attack on U.S.-backed SNA forces in Mahday, Telegram, June 29, 2017; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” June 27, 2017,
[9] “Tranquility returns to Leheley location,” Goobjoog News, June 29, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, June 29, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims attack on Kenyan and SNA troops in Bardhere town, Telegram, June 28, 2017.
[10] “Somalia: Landmine blast near Mogadishu wounds two civilians,” Garowe Online, June 29, 2017,; Al Shabaab claims attack on NISA in Mogadishu, Telegram, June 29, 2017; and Al Shabaab claims assassination of SNA trainer in Mogadishu, Telegram, June 29, 2017.
[11] “Partial security operations in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, June 29, 2017,
[12] “Militants blocking aid to starving children in Somalia, charity says,” Goobjoog News, June 29, 2017,
[13] “Puntland accuses Somaliland of supporting Alshabab,” Goobjoog News, June 29, 2017,; and “Somaliland denies Puntland’s allegations on terrorism,” Goobjoog News, June 29, 2017,

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