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: Tensions over governor reshuffle escalate in Aden; Hadi government claims U.S. support for reshuffle, consulate plans; AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi emphasizes AQAP’s role as Sunni unifier; U.S. airstrike kills AQAP senior official in Shabwah governorate; reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants in Ma’rib, Shabwah, and Abyan governorates; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to halt Hadi government offensive in Mokha district, Taiz governorate; al Houthi-Saleh naval mine kills fisherman near al Hudaydah; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missiles toward Hadi government and Saudi targets
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants temporarily seize city in Bakool province, southwestern Somalia; al Shabaab court orders stoning in Hiraan region, south-central Somalia; al Shabaab reports aid delivery to 300 families in El Bur, central Somalia; suspected al Shabaab militants attempt to assassinate Somali MP in Mogadishu; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Protesters demonstrated in response to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s removal of Aden’s governor, Aydarus al Zubaidi, on April 27. Demonstrations are ongoing. President Hadi swore in new Aden governor Abdulaziz al Muflahi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 30. Saudi Arabia reportedly plans to send two battalions of National Guard troops to to protect Muflahi during his planned return on May 4. Aden Counterterrorism Commander Yusran Magtari swore loyalty to former governor Zubaidi on May 1 following a meeting between Zubaidi, Lahij Governor Nasser al Khubaji, and other members of the Southern Movement. Hadi government Interior Minister Hussein Arab warned the Southern Movement that the security situation in Aden is a “red line” on May 1.
U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller told incoming Aden governor Abdulaziz al Muflahi on April 29 that the U.S. intends to establish a consulate in Aden, according to Hadi government sources. Pro-Hadi sources also claim that Tueller expressed support for President Hadi’s decision to reshuffle his cabinet during a meeting in Riyadh on May 1.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emir Qasim al Raymi emphasized AQAP’s role in unifying Yemeni Sunnis against al Houthi-Saleh forces in an April 30 interview. Al Raymi stated that his forces will cooperate with a wide range of Muslim groups including Salafi militias, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni tribal forces in order to facilitate unification. Al Raymi emphasized that AQAP does not want to rule Yemen but instead seeks to support a Shari’a government, like the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Al Raymi accused the U.S. of working with the al Houthi-Saleh bloc against Sunnis in Yemen. He also warned Yemenis that Emirati-backed forces will use them as a “cheap tool.” Al Raymi claimed that AQAP attempted to reach an agreement with the Hadi government in 2013 in which AQAP would halt attacks against Hadi government forces in exchange for the implementation of Shari’a-based governance and an end to U.S. airstrikes.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis reported that a U.S. airstrike killed senior AQAP official Abu Ahmed al Awlaki in , eastern Yemen on April 23. Al Awlaki led AQAP operations in Shabwah, planned external attacks, and facilitated the transfer of arms in Yemen.
Reported U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in Shabwah, Ma’rib, and Abyan governorates on April 29 and 30. U.S. warplanes struck an AQAP vehicle in, Shabwah governorate on April 29, according to local media. An AQAP-affiliated social media account confirmed that a U.S. airstrike killed three of its militants in Shabwah. Reported U.S. warplanes also killed five AQAP militants in , south of Ma’rib city, on April 30. A U.S. airstrike east of , Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on April 30 caused no casualties, according to local residents.
AQAP attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on April 29. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces next to the Bin Laden resort in . AQAP militants also detonated an IED killing five al Houthi-Saleh troops in , southern al Bayda governorate on April 29.
AQAP militants detonated an IED targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam forces near a government complex in Lahij governorate on May 1. The IED injured multiple al Hizam troops in a vehicle in, near the Lahij-Aden governorate border. AQAP’s last claimed attack in Lahij targeted a government headquarters in late March 2017.
Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to repel a Hadi government offensive in northern , Taiz governorate on April 27. The Hadi government commander in Mokha, Abu Zara’hu al Mahrahmi, denied that his forces retreated from the frontline in Mokha district on April 28. Hadi government forces seek to advance northward from Taiz governorate into al Hudaydah governorate, where the Saudi-led coalition plans to launch an offensive on al Hudaydah port. Hadi government forces have not advanced since March.
An al Houthi-Saleh naval mine detonated alongside a fishing boat in the Red Sea, near northern , on May 1. The blast killed a fisherman. Yemeni National Association for Mine Action chairman Taher al Mikhlafi warned that naval mines near the Yemeni coast threaten international commerce. Hadi government forces also claimed to disarm several naval mines off the coast of , northwestern Hajjah governorate, on May 1.
Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire two ballistic missiles from , western Taiz governorate, toward Hadi government forces stationed near on May 1. Saudi-led coalition air defenses intercepted the missiles. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to fire two Qaher-M2 ballistic missiles into Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia, on April 29. This attack is not confirmed.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Wjid city, , southwestern Somalia on April 30. Militants attacked a police station and government offices in Wjid, forcing Somali Federal Government (SFG)-allied militias to withdraw to a nearby African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base.
Al Shabaab militants carried out a hadd punishment in , central Somalia on May 1. An al Shabaab Islamic court sentenced an individual to be stoned for raping a woman and killing her brother in Buq’aqable city. Al Shabaab media claimed that hundreds of residents witnessed the stoning.
Al Shabaab militants claimed to distribute food aid to 300 families in El Bur city, , central Somalia on April 28. Al Shabaab claims to control El Bur and provided governance to the city.
Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate a Somali Member of Parliament (MP) in Hodon district, on April 28. The attackers detonated an IED alongside the MP’s vehicle, injuring two of his bodyguards and one civilian.
Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack targeting an Ethiopian AMISOM convoy in on May 1. Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) before assaulting the convoy with small arms near Leego village.
 “Muflahi sworn in in front of Hadi as new governor of Aden,” Aden Lange, April 30, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67905/; “Aden airport director reveals news to Aden Lange about the arrival of a Saudi force to the airport,” Aden Lange, May 1, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67974/; “Imminent return of the bin Daghir government to Aden,” Aden Lange, April 1, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67973/; “Anti-terrorism unit commander in Aden warns of compromising the security of the capital,” Aden Lange, April 30, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67897/; “Leaders of the Southern Resistance meet al Zubaidi in Aden,” Aden Lange, April 30, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67856/; and “Interior Minister sends a warning to protesters against Hadi’s decision,” Aden Lange, May 1, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67979/.
 “U.S. Ambassador to our country confirms the opening of an office of the State Department in Aden,” Sabanew, April 29, 2017, http://sabanew.net/viewstory.php?id=16665; “U.S. Ambassador tells new Aden Governor living in Riyadh about U.S. embassy office in Aden,” Twitter, April 29, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/858391554850828288; and “President receives U.S. Ambassador to our country,” Sabanew, May 1, 2017, http://sabanew.net/viewstory.php?id=16721.
 “AQAP releases interview with group’s leader discussing events in Yemen,” SITE, April 30, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-News/aqap-releases-interview-with-group-s-leader-discussing-events-in-yemen.html.
 “US Airstrike Killed 8 Al-Qaida Operatives in Yemen,” Military, April 29, 2017, http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/04/29/pentagon-us-airstrike-killed-8-al-qaida-operatives-yemen.html.
 “US drone aircraft targeted a car to al-Qaida in Gharir Shabwa,” Aden Lang, April 29, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67822/; Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, April 29, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/858348746794577920; “Al Qaeda gunmen killed in U.S. raid in Ma’rib,” Aden Lang, April 30, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67902/; and “Urgent: An intense plane flight in Mudiyah district of Abyan,” Aden Lang, April 30, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67928/.
 AQAP claims attacks in Ibb and al Bayda governorate, Telegram, April 29, 2017.
 AQAP claims its militants detonated IED targeting al Hizam forces in Lahij, Telegram, May 1, 2017; and “The attempted bombing of a security kit in Hawta Lahij leads a number of individuals lightly injured,” Aden tomorrow, May 1, 2017, http://adenghd.net/news/257235/.
 “Advance of invaders towards the north of Mokha disrupted,” Sabanews, April 27, 2017, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news463258.htm; and “Mokha front commander denies his withdrawal and confirms desire of fighters to eliminate the coup plotters,” Aden Lange, April 28, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67746/.
 “Militias continue to booby-trap the coast of al Hudaydah with naval mines,” Aden Lange, May 1, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/67966/; and “The disposal of naval mines near the coast of Midi by engineering teams,” Aden Tomorrow, May 1, 2017, http://adenghd.net/news/257177/.
 “Rocket force continues to target Saudi army positions in number of fronts during the past few hours,” Sabanews, May 1, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news463513.htm; “Alliance defenses intercept ballistic missiles fired by Houthis toward sites in Mokha,” al Masdar, May 1, 2017, http://www.almasdaronline.com/article/90847; and “Rocket forces fire Qaher-M2 at Saudi enemies in Jizan,” Sabanews, April 29, 2017, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news463306.htm.
 “Shabaab Claims Attack on Somali Forces in Wajid, Bakool, Implementing Stoning Punishment in Hiran,” SITE, May 1, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/shabaab-claims-attack-on-somali-forces-in-wajid-bakool-implementing-stoning-punishment-in-hiran.html.
 “Shabaab Claims Attack on Somali Forces in Wajid, Bakool, Implementing Stoning Punishment in Hiran,” SITE, May 1, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/shabaab-claims-attack-on-somali-forces-in-wajid-bakool-implementing-stoning-punishment-in-hiran.html; and al Shabaab reports on stoning punishment in Hiraan, Telegram, May 1, 2017.
 Al Shabaab clams to provide aid to 300 people in al Bur, central Somalia, Telegram, April 28, 2017.
 “Somalia: Federal lawmaker survives assassination attempt in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, April 29, 2017, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-federal-lawmaker-survives-assassination-attempt-in-mogadishu.
 “Somalia: Al-Shabaab Militants Attack AU Troops in Somalia,” All Africa, May 1, 2017, http://allafrica.com/stories/201705010667.html.