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: Al Houthi-Saleh council declares UN Special Envoy to Yemen persona non grata; kidnapped American aid worker assisted U.S. SOF in Yemen; Hadi government-aligned forces advance in Taiz city battle; AQAP releases two videos of attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate; pro-Hadi government militias attack al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Shabwah governorate; Saudi-led coalition intercepts ballistic missiles over Mokha, Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Kenyan and Somali soldiers in eastern Kenya; Kenyan forces repel al Shabaab raid on military base in southern Somalia; President Farmajo visits Kismayo in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council President Saleh Ali al Samad declared that UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on June 5 is “not desirable” for future peace negotiations. Al Samad also barred Ould Cheikh Ahmed from terrain controlled by al Houthi-Saleh forces. Al Houthi-Saleh leadership views Ould Cheikh Ahmed as biased toward Saudi Arabia. Officials from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government reiterated support for the UN Special Envoy’s ceasefire proposal on June 6.[1]  

A former American aid worker whom al Houthi-Saleh forces held hostage in 2015 helped to supply U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Yemen, according to a New York Times report. Scott Darden served as country head for Transoceanic Development, a shipping contractor for international aid groups that include UNICEF and the International Committee for the Red Cross. Darden provided logistical support for roughly 125 U.S. SOF advisors in Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces kidnapped him on March 27, 2015. Omani officials secured his release in September 2015.[2]

Hadi government-aligned fighters gained control of the al Hamad Hospital in Taiz city on June 6. The operation is part of an offensive that aims to seize the Central Security Organization in the Tashrifat military base from al Houthi-Saleh forces. Hadi government forces entered the northern gate of Tashrifat military base in eastern Taiz city on June 2. Republican Guard units loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh used Tashrifat military base as a primary operations center in Taiz. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed involvement in the offensive.[3]

AQAP released two videos on June 6 showing attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. One video shows a small arms attack in al Sawma’ah district, southern al Bayda on April 20 that killed four al Houthi-Saleh fighters. The other video shows AQAP militants detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) that killed five al Houthi-Saleh troops in Madhuqin area, southern al Bayda on May 29. AQAP militants also killed an al Houthi-Saleh commander in Damt, near the border between Ibb and al Dhaleh governorates, on June 6.[4]

Popular resistance militias aligned with the Hadi government clashed with al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Usaylan district, northwest Shabwah governorate on June 5. The fight occurred near a major road that traverses the district and connects several governorates in central Yemen.[5]

Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted two al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missiles over Mokha city in western Taiz governorate on June 5. Al Houthi-Saleh forces reportedly launched the missiles from a base to the east in Maqbanah district, Taiz governorate.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a joint Somali National Army (SNA)-Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) convoy in Gerille town, Wajir County in eastern Kenya on June 5. The attack disrupted a joint SNA-KDF search for al Shabaab militants but caused no casualties. Al Shabaab increased its operational tempo in eastern Kenya in the past three weeks, killing approximately 20 KDF soldiers.[7]

Al Shabaab attacked a KDF camp in Abidore town near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia on June 3. KDF troops repelled the attack and killed 14 al Shabaab militants, including a mid-level commander. The militants attempted to enter the KDF camp using two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs). KDF soldiers killed the drivers, preventing them from detonating the explosives. The attack occurred two hours after al Shabaab temporarily seized a joint SNA-KDF base in Kolbio, Lower Jubba region.[8]  

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo visited Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on June 6. Farmajo will visit a military camp in Kismayo ahead of a major SNA operation to remove al Shabaab strongholds in Middle and Lower Jubba regions. Farmajo’s visit follows a week of increased al Shabaab activity in Kismayo. Al Shabaab militants threw a grenade at a local police station and attacked KDF and SNA soldiers on the town’s outskirts on June 5. Al Shabaab maintained a stronghold in Kismayo from 2010 until Kenyan AMISOM soldiers secured the strategic port city in October 2012.[9]

[1] “Yemen rebels reject UN envoy as mediator in conflict,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2017,; “Houthis say UN envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed is "undesirable today,” France 24, June 6, 2017,; and “Yemen government accepts UN proposal for Hodeida,” Gulf News, June 6, 2017,
[2] Adem Goldman and Eric Schmitt, “Aid Coordinator in Yemen Had Secret Job Overseeing U.S. Commando Shipments,” New York Times, June 6, 2017,
[3] “Killing and wounding of four civilians in the bombing of a residential neighborhood in south of the city of Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 6, 2017.; “12 Saudi-paid mercenaries killed in Taiz,” Saba News, June 6, 2017.; “National Army progress towards the north of the Central Security,” Al Tagheer, June 6, 2017,; “Government forces approaching the ‘central security,’ a military official tells developments in Taiz battles,” Mareb Press, June 6, 2017,; “AQAP Claims Sniping Houthis in Taiz, Ambush and Bombing in Al-Bayda,” SITE, June 2, 2017, available by subscription at; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 5, 2017,
[4] “AQAP Assault on Awaan junction, al Bayda,” YouTube, June 6, 2017; “AQAP explosion attack on al Houthis in al Bayda,” YouTube, June 5, 2017; “AQAP liquidation of al Houthi leader,” Telegram, June 6, 2017.
[5] “11 Houthis killed and injured on the Usaylan Front, Shabwah Governorate,” Al Khaleej, June 6, 2017,
[6] “Coalition forces intercepted two missiles fired by Houthis at Mokha,” al Masdar, June 5, 2017,
[7] “KDF and police officers survive Al Shabaab attack,” Shabelle News, June 6, 2017,
[8] “14 militants killed after attempt to raid KDF camp,” Shabelle News, June 5, 2017,
[9] “Somalia: President Farmajo arrives in Kismayo town,” Garowe Online, June 6, 2017,; and . Katherine Zimmerman, Jacqulyn Meyer, Colin Lahiff and Jordan Indermuehle: “US Counterterrorism Objectives in Somalia: Is Mission Failure Likely?” Critical Threats Project, March 1, 2017,

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