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-led coalition strikes al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Yemen; battle for Taiz intensifies; al Hizam forces thwart suicide attack in Abyan governorate; UN Special Envoy for Yemen to be based in Amman, Jordan; Yemeni ambassador to the UN condemns Qatar for supporting terrorism; WHO reports 100,000 cholera cases

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab captures town and base near Boosaaso, Bari region; al Shabaab detonates IED in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; Kenyan security forces arrest five al Shabaab recruits

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Yemen. Coalition aircraft bombed an al-Houthi-Saleh checkpoint in Razih district, Sa’ada governorate on June 8 and conducted eight airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh weapons stores in Midi district, Hajjah governorate on June 7. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to damage a coalition F-16 fighter plane with a surface-to-air missile over Sana’a on June 7. Al Houthi-Saleh forces previously claimed to down a coalition jet over Sa’ada governorate on May 21.[1]

Clashes between coalition-backed forces and al Houthi-Saleh forces intensified in Taiz governorate on June 8. Coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh positions on the perimeter of the Central Security Organization in the Tashrifat military base in eastern Taiz city on June 8. Hadi government-aligned forces claimed to control the base on June 5, but it remains contested. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to divert attention by shelling coalition troops and residential neighborhoods in western Taiz city on June 8. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also announced an offensive on coalition forces in al Mokha, western Taiz governorate to disrupt the Hadi government's attempt to take control of Yemen’s western coast on June 7. Coalition aircraft killed ten al Houthi-Saleh fighters and injured 16 others in al Khokha district, southern Hudaydah governorate on June 7 to support ground forces’ advancing northward toward al Hudaydah port.[2] 

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces detained a militant attempting to bomb a passenger bus in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on June 7. Security forces secured the hand-held improvised explosive device (IED) and detonated it in the desert. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is likely responsible for the attempted attack. Suspected AQAP militants also attempted to assassinate the security director of Abyan governorate on June 7.[3]

The Jordanian foreign ministry announced on June 8 that United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed will be based in Amman, Jordan. Al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council President Saleh Ali al Samad declared Ould Cheikh Ahmed a persona non grata in Sana’a on June 5. Unconfirmed Libyan reports claimed that Ould Cheikh Ahmed will replace Martin Kobler as the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).[4]

The Yemeni ambassador to the United Nations, Khaled Hussein al Yemani, accused Qatar of supporting terrorism in Yemen by aiding al Houthi-Saleh forces on June 8. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE, and the internationally recognized government of Yemen cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5.[5]

The World Health Organization recorded 101,820 cases of cholera and 789 deaths in Yemen since April 27. WHO previously reported 70,000 cases on June 3. The epidemic affects 19 of Yemen’s 22 governorates. Oxfam International reported that one cholera death occurs every hour. Malnutrition, insufficient healthcare, irregular sanitation services, and continued conflict are accelerating the spread of the disease.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab captured Af Urur town and attacked a Puntland military base, killing 20-50 soldiers. Al Shabaab claimed to kill more than 130 Puntland soldiers. Af Urur town is located in the Galgala Mountains approximately 43 miles west of the Boosaaso in Bari region, northern Somalia.  The militants took several hostages and seized 16 military vehicles. The attack marks an escalation of al Shabaab’s campaign in northern Somalia. Puntland authorities interdicted an al Shabaab militant attempting to smuggle explosive materials into Boosaaso on May 31. The group has also claimed responsibility for several improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in the strategic port city and Galgala Mountains since 2014. The group controlled territory in the Galgala Mountains from 2010 until Puntland security forces ousted them in 2014.[7] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on June 8. The attack killed three Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers and wounded two others. This marks the second attack targeting a SNA convoy in Jowhar in three days.[8] 

Kenya’s Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) arrested five al Shabaab recruits in eastern Kenya on June 7. ATPU officers arrested the recruits while they were traveling to Somalia to join al Shabaab. ATPU forces arrested three recruits on Isiolo-Garba-Tula road in Isiolo County, while officers stopped the others in Bute, Wajir County. ATPU officers claim the recruits were traveling from Tulluroba and Chechelesi estates in Isiolo County, which are known al Shabaab recruiting centers . The five recruits were under 20 years of age.[9]

[1] “Sa'ada: The Coalition Bombs al Houthi Position in Razih and Battles in al Buqa’,” Barakish Net, June 8, 2017,; “Air Defense Unit Announces Damage to Coalition F-16 over Sana’a,” Sabanews, June 8, 2017,; and “Coalition Destroys al Houthi Weapons Stores in Midi,” Barakish Net, June 8, 2017,   
[2] “Intensified fighting in the city of Taiz as the army progresses,” Barakish, June 8, 2017,;  “Government forces exercise control over the Tashrifat military base after violent clashes in eastern Taiz City,” Al Masdar Online, June 5, 2017,; “Mercenaries are killed and wounded in the army's offensive on Taiz,” Sabanews, June 7, 2015,; and “Renewed Battles between Government Forces and al Houthis North of Mokha and the Coalition Launches Four Strikes,” al Masdar Online, June 8, 2017,
[3] “Security Sources: Explosion Foiled on a Passenger Bus East of Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, June 8, 2017,
[4] “UN Special Envoy for Yemen headquarters to move to Amman,” Al Arabiyya, June 8, 2017,; “Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace Martin Kobler as Head of UNSMIL, reports,” Libyan Express, June 7, 2017,
[5] “Ambassador al Yemeni in the United Nations: Isolating Qatar will stop hostile attitudes,” Aden Lange, June 8, 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,
[6] WHO Yemen, Twitter, June 8, 2017,; “100 Thousand Cases of Cholera in Yemen and 798 Deaths,” 7adramout Net, June 8, 2017,; and Oxfam International, Twitter, June 8, 2017,    
[7] “Al-Shabab claims killing 61 in Puntland army base raid,” Shabelle News, June 8, 2017,; “Al-Shabab attacks Puntland Military base in in Af-Urur,” Shabelle News, June 8, 2017,; “Somalia battles al-Shabab for Galgala mountains,” BBC, October 1, 2014,; and Caleb Weiss: “Shabaab targets soldiers in Puntland ambush,” Long War Journal, April 23, 2017,
[8] “Three soldiers killed, Two injured in Jowhar attack,” Shabelle News, June 8, 2017,
[9] “Kenya arrests five youth en route to join Al shabaab,” Goobjoog News, June 7, 2017,

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