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: Hadi government attempts to prevent support for Transitional Political Council of the South; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; cholera epidemic spreads throughout Yemen; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda distributes video showing an attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces; al Houthi-Saleh forces capture town in al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces kill two Sudanese soldiers in Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire a ballistic missile toward Mokha city in Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Uganda to double AMISOM deployment in Somalia; donors sign Somalia security pact at London conference; SFG officials to review provisional constitution

Yemen Security Brief

The internationally recognized Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi attempted to prevent Gulf states from supporting the newly-formed Transitional Political Council of the South. The Council’s self-declared president, former Aden governor Aydarus al Zubaidi, met with Saudi-led coalition officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between May 13 and 15. Hadi government Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi called his Emirati, Kuwaiti, and Qatari counterparts on May 13 for assurances that they would not side with the Transitional Political Council. Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash revised his previous comments accusing the Hadi government of nepotism and stated that “the role of the UAE in Yemen is supporting Saudi Arabia… it is committed to support the legitimate government in Yemen.” Bahraini Interior Minister Rashid al Khalifa and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi also expressed their countries’ support for the Hadi government on May 14, according to official Hadi government sources. Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif al Zayani also endorsed the Hadi government. Zubaidi and Council Vice President Hani bin Brik reportedly plan to meet with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh. Pro-Hadi government media denies that the group will meet.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on May 13 and 14. AQAP militants targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device (IED) in separate instances al Zahir area, southern al Bayda governorate on May 13. AQAP militants also ambushed al Houthi-Saleh forces near al Zuqab village in western al Bayda on May 13. AQAP militants killed two al Houthi-Saleh troops and seized their weapons near ‘Awayan village southern al Bayda governorate May 14. AQAP militants also threw a hand grenade at al Houthi-Saleh forces in Damt city, near the Ibb-al Dhaleh governorate border on May 14.[2]

An ongoing cholera outbreak in Yemen has killed at least 180 people and infected 11,000 others since April 27. The United Nations estimates that two-thirds of Yemenis lack access to clean drinking water. Hospitals in Sana’a reported the majority of cases, with 115 deaths. The recent outbreak also reached Aden, Abyan, Shabwah, Ibb, and Taiz governorates in central and southern Yemen. The World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and the Red Cross are working with local officials throughout Yemen to combat the spread of cholera.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda distributed a video of its militants firing an artillery piece at al Houthi-Saleh forces in Jamid area, western al Bayda governorate on May 12. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed an attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces on April 29.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces seized the village of Rabia’tain in Juban district, central al Dhaleh district, on May 15 after two days of intense fighting. Hadi government forces retreated after al Houthi-Saleh forces outnumbered them.[5]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed two Sudanese soldiers in Yemen on May 13. The Sudanese Armed Forces announced that the soldiers died during Saudi-led coalition combat operations in an unspecified location. Sudanese troops arrived in Midi and Marad districts, northwest Hajjah governorate, to assist Hadi government forces against al Houthi-Saleh forces on May 8. Sudanese forces have also operated in Aden and Taiz governorates.[6]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a Katyusha rocket or a ballistic missile toward Hadi government forces in Mokha city in western Taiz governorate on May 14. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted the missile over Camp Khaled ibn Walid.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that Uganda will double its troop commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in a May 15 statement. President Museveni identified al Shabaab as the largest obstacle to stability in the region during his statement. An estimated 2,700 Ugandan troops operate in Somalia. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on May 11 that Kenyan AMISOM troops will remain in Somalia indefinitely until Somali forces can independently provide security.[8]

Somalia and 42 other countries signed the National Security Architecture, a ten-year security framework that aims to stabilize Somalia, in London on May 11. The agreement outlines phased milestones to strengthen Somalia’s security institutions, including the requirement that Somali forces be capable of providing security for the 2021 elections. The agreement also states that AMISOM forces will begin to reduce their force presence in Somalia in late 2018 if Somalia is sufficiently stable. The signing of the National Security Architecture marks the end of the 2017 Somalia Conference in London. Participants in the May 14-15 Doha Forum in Qatar are also expected to pledge support to the Somali Federal Government (SFG).[9]

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs initiated a three-day forum to review the provisional constitution in Mogadishu on May 14. Minister of Interior and Federal Affairs Abdi Farah Saed “Juha,” speaker of the Federal Parliament Osman Jawari, and constitutional officials will attend the meeting. The Somali Federal Government and regional administrations will deliberate constitutional amendment procedures and public consultation before implementing a public referendum.[10]

[1] “Foreign Minister holds telephone conference with Saudi, Emirati, Kuwaiti, and Qatari counterparts,” Sabanew, May 13, 2017,; “Gargash: UAE’s role in Yemen is in support of Saudi Arabia,” Al Arabiya, May 14, 2017,; Twitter, Anwar Gargash, April 28, 2017,; “Bahrain confirms its firm position supporting legitimacy in Yemen,” Sabanew, May 14, 2017,; “Oman confirms its principled position in support of Yemen and its leadership,” Sabanew, May 14, 2017,; “Sec-Gen of the Arab League confirms his full support for Yemeni unity,” Sabanew, May 13, 2017,; “GCC confirms that the solution to the issue of S. Yemen must be legitimacy,” al Masdar, May 12, 2017,; “A meeting between UN Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and President of the Council to move Major General Aydarus al Zubaidi,” Aden Tomorrow, May 13, 2017,; and “Sources deny any meeting between UN Envoy and Zubaidi, former Aden governor,” al Masdar, May 14, 2017,  
[2] AQAP militants claim four attack targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, May 14, 2017.
[3] “Cholera death toll in Yemen reaches at least 180: Red Cross,” Reuters, May 15, 2017,; “Cholera kills Lawder inhabitants,” Aden Tomorrow, May 15, 2017,; “First cases of cholera appear in Mahfad district,” Aden Lange, May 14, 2017,; “Hospitals in Ibb recorded more than 600 cases of cholera, including 3 deaths,” al Masdar, May 15, 2017,; “President of the SPC inspects patients and the progress of the Ministry of Health,” Sabanews, May 13, 2017,; “Health Ministry discusses with international organizations how to intervene to stop cholera epidemic,” May 14, 2017,; “MSF calls on international organizations to increase Yemen aid to fight cholera,” Sabanews, May 14, 2017,; and “Deputy PM meets ICRC President in Yemen,” Sabanew, May 15, 2017,
[4] “# Yemen: Islamic state hit areas of Houthis sites in Qayfa - al Bayda,” Dawaal Haq, May 12, 2017.
[5] “Houthis control Rabia’atin village in Juban after two days of fighting,” al Masdar, May 15, 2017,; “Eight militiamen killed and others wounded in northern Dhaleh, Juban,” Aden Tomorrow, May 13, 2017,
[6] “The Sudanese army announces the death of two of its soldiers in Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, May 13, 2017,; “Sudan announces two of its soldiers killed fighting alongside the Arab coalition in Yemen,” al Masdar, May 13, 2017,; and “Sudanese troops reach Hajjah to participate in defeating al Houthi-Saleh militias,” Aden Tomorrow, May 8, 2017,
[7] “Alliance intercepts a ballistic missile launched by the Houthis in Mokha,” Aden Lange, May 15, 2017,; “Arab alliance defenses intercept a ballistic missile in the sky over Mokha,” Aden Tomorrow, May 14, 2017,; “Missile forces target communities of mercenaries north of Mokha in Taiz,” Sabanews, May 14, 2017,
[8] “Uganda announces doubling its troops in Somalia,” The Peninsula Qatar, May 15, 2017,
[9] “Highlights of the Security Pact between Somalia and donors during London Conference,” Goob Joob, May 14, 2017,; and “Somalia’s Prime Minister attends Doha Forum,” Garowe Online, May 14, 2017,
[10] “Somalia: Government holds constitutional review meeting in Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, May 14, 2017,

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