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 Arabia expels Qatar from Yemen coalition; UNICEF warns that cholera may infect 300,000 Yemenis; Hadi government forces seize Tashrifat military base in eastern Taiz city; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda releases sniper training photos; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim three ballistic missiles attacks on Hadi government forces in Nihm, Sana’a governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Kenyan soldiers in southern Somalia; Somalia-born militant attacks Melbourne neighborhood; al Shabaab attacks police headquarters in Kismayo; AMISOM completes training to prevent al Shabaab child soldier recruitment; al Shabaab attempts assassinations in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Arabia expelled Qatar from the Arab coalition in Yemen on June 5. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE, the internationally recognized Yemeni government, and an unrecognized eastern CorrectionA previous version of the Gulf of Aden Security Review stated that Libya's internationally recognized government suspended ties with Qatar. An interim administration based in eastern Libya, which is not recognized by the UN, suspended ties.Libyan administration suspended diplomatic relations and cut off travel with Qatar on June 5. These countries accused Qatar of supporting the al Houthi-Saleh bloc and promoting terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and ISIS. Approximately 1,000 Qatari troops had participated in operations to secure the Saudi-Yemeni border, including six soldiers reported injured on the border on June 3. The Qatari Foreign Ministry accused Saudi Arabia and the other participating governments of trying to “impose guardianship” over Qatar and violate its sovereignty. Al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Revolutionary Committee Chairman Mohammad Ali al Houthi stated his willingness to cooperate with Qatar and asked that the Saudi-led coalition reconsider its decision to isolate the country.[1]

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director Geert Cappelaere warned that cholera may infect up to 300,000 people in Yemen in the coming month. Cappelaere also stated that the current cholera outbreak is the worst he has ever seen in Yemen. Cholera infected 70,000 people and killed over 600 in the month leading up to June 3. Three million internally displaced persons in Yemen are susceptible to the disease due to poor hygiene services and a lack of medical facilities.[2]

Militias aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government seized Tashrifat military base in eastern Taiz city on June 5 after entering the base on June 2. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Republican Guard forces used Tashrifat as a primary coordination center for operations in Taiz. The Abu Abbas brigade, a militia backed by the Saudi-led coalition that has connections to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is leading an offensive to seize the Presidential Palace adjacent to Tashrifat military base. AQAP has claimed activity as part of this offensive.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda distributed a photoset of its militants participating in a sniper training course on June 4. The images depicted approximately 10 militants training on a variety of sniper rifles in the Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed an attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda on May 30.[4]

AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on June 5. AQAP militants ambushed the al Houthi-Saleh troops near a security headquarters in Quraishi district, northwestern al Bayda governorate. AQAP and ISIS Wilayat al Bayda cooperate on a tactical level against al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen.[5]  

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire three “Zilzal-2” ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces stationed in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on June 3. These attacks are not confirmed. The Hadi government offensive on Nihm is part of a larger effort to encircle the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab raided a Kenyan military camp in Kolbio town, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on June 3. The militants fired mortar rounds before launching an infantry attack and briefly seizing the base and killing dozens of Kenyan troops. Al Shabaab has killed over 30 Kenyan security personnel in the past three weeks. Al Shabaab previously attacked the Kenyan base at Kolbio in January 2017, killing approximately 60 soldiers.[7]

A Somalia-born militant conducted an attack in a neighborhood in Brighton, Melbourne, Australia on June 5. Yacqub Khayre exchanged gunfire with police officers on Bay Street in Brighton before taking a woman hostage in the nearby ‘The Buckingham’ apartment complex. Police officers neutralized Khayre after exchanging fire for nearly two hours. The attack killed one man and wounded three police officers. Khayre called a local news station while barricaded in ‘The Buckingham’ and stated that he conducted the attack on behalf of al Qaeda and ISIS. Khayre was previously arrested and acquitted after allegedly planning a suicide attack targeting Sydney's Holsworthy army barracks in 2009.[8]  

Al Shabaab militants threw a grenade at a police headquarters in Kismayo, Lower Juba region, southern Somalia on June 5. The attack killed five officers and wounded 21 others. The attacks disrupt ongoing security efforts in Kismayo ahead of President Mohamed Farmajo’s visit on June 6.[9]

AMISOM completed a three-day joint training with the Somali National Army (SNA) to prevent al Shabaab’s child soldier recruitment on June 2. Roughly 50 percent of al Shabaab recruits are children. Recruiters approach these children offering educational opportunities and jobs.[10]

Likely al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate the Hodan district commissioner in Mogadishu on June 4. The militants threw grenades into Commissioner Ahmed Salad Ibrahim’s house in the capital. No casualties resulted from the attack. Militants also targeted government vehicles in Mogadishu on June 3. Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the head of Somalia’s Taxation Department. The attack killed one SNA soldier. Militants detonated another IED targeting a Finance Ministry official in Kawo-Godey area, Wadajir district, Mogadishu. The attack caused no casualties. Al Shabaab killed four government officials in the capital last week.[11]

[1] Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Twitter, June 5, 2017,; “Alliance in support of the legitimacy in Yemen announces the end of Qatar’s participation,” SPA, June 5, 2017,; Anne Barnard and David D. Kirkpatrick, “5 Arab States Break Ties With Qatar, Complicating U.S. Coalition-Building,” The New York Times, June 5, 2017,; “Yemen announces its support for the leadership of the coalition’s steps to end the participation of Qatari troops and cut off relations with them,” Sabanew, June 5, 2017,; Jamie Prentis, “Beida government cuts off diplomatic relations with Qatar,” Libya Herald, June 5, 2017,; “Qatar says six of its soldiers wounded on Saudi-Yemeni border,” Reuters, June 3, 2017,; “Qatar deploys 1,000 ground troops to fight in Yemen,” al Jazeera, September 7, 2015,; “Gulf diplomatic crisis: Qatar's reaction in full,” al Jazeera, June 5, 2017,; and Mohammad Ali al Houthi, Twitter, June 5, 2017,
[2] Rick Gladstone, “Unicef Fears Yemen Cholera Outbreak Could Hit 300,000 in Coming Weeks,” New York Times, June 2, 2017,; and “Yemen: Cholera outbreak turning an already dire situation for children into a disaster,” Outbreak News Today, June 4, 2017,
[3] “Government forces liberated the camp Tashrifat and penetrating inside the Presidential Palace in Taiz,” Mareb Press, June 2, 2017,; archicivilians, Twitter, June 4, 2017,; and “Government forces control Tashrifat camp in eastern Taiz after heavy fighting,” al Masdar, June 5, 2017,
[4] “Islamic State Sniper Training in Qayfa- al Bayda, Yemen,” Dawaal Haq, June 4, 2017.
[5] AQAP claims an ambush targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces near a security headquarters in Quraishi, al Bayda, Telegram, June 5.
[6] “Three Zilzal-2 at mercenary forces in Nihm,” Sabanews, June 3, 2017,
[7] “Al-Shabaab attacks Kenyan Military base in Somalia,” Shabelle News, June 3, 2017,
[8] Josh Hanrahan: “Pictured: Somali gunman, 29, shot dead by Melbourne cops after murdering a man in the name of ISIS was once cleared of a terrorist plot to attack a Sydney army barracks,” Daily Mail, June 5, 2017;
[9] “One dead, several injured in Kismayo grenade explosion,” Shabelle News, June 5, 2017,
[10] “AMISOM trained to prevent use of child soldiers,” Shabelle News, June 3, 2017,
[11] Former Hodon DC survives assassination attempt,” Shabelle News, June 5, 2017,; and ““Two Govt officials escape IED bombs in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, June 3, 2017,

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