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: Reported U.S. airstrike kills three AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile at military base in southwestern Saudi Arabia; AQAP militants assassinate local leader in central Yemen; U.S. Department of State condemns al Houthi actions against Baha’i religious community

Horn of Africa: Somaliland and Puntland forces clash in Sool region, northern Somalia; al Shabaab video features militants in Golis Mountains, northern Somalia; ISIS claims attack in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

A reported U.S. airstrike killed three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Khawrah area, Markhah district, west of Ataq city in Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen on May 14. The U.S. has reportedly conducted three airstrikes targeting AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate since April.[1]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 ballistic missile targeting King Faisal military base in Jizan city, southwestern Saudi Arabia on May 15. Saudi air defenses intercepted the missile, according to Saudi state media.[2] 

AQAP militants assassinated a local leader named Ali Mohammed al Tayabi in al Batha area, Dhi Na’im district in southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on May 6. AQAP frequently attacks al Houthi forces in al Bayda to gain the trust of local populations and frame itself as the protector of Sunni Muslims.[3]

The U.S. Department of State condemned al Houthi actions against members of the Baha’i religious community in Yemen in a press statement on May 14. The U.S. Department of State press statement highlighted al Houthi attempts to coerce the Baha’is to renounce their faith through harassment, anti-Baha’i rhetoric, and detentions. The al Houthi movement sentenced Baha’i member Hamed Bin Haydara to death on January 2. The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religious minority in Yemen that draws upon elements of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.[4] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somaliland security forces attacked Puntland military forces near Tuko Raq, Sool region, northern Somalia on May 15. Somaliland and Puntland forces also shelled each other’s military positions. UN Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating discussed resolving the territorial dispute with Puntland officials in Garowe on May 12. Somaliland and Puntland both claim the Sanaag and Sool regions in northern Somalia. Somaliland forces expelled Puntland officials from Tuko Raq in 2017.[5]

Al Shabaab’s al Kitab Media Foundation released a video featuring its militant’s daily activities in the Golis Mountains in the Sanaag and Bari regions in northern Somalia. The video also featured an al Shabaab raid on a Puntland military base in Af Urur, Bari region, northern Somalia, sixty miles south of Boosaaso.[6]

ISIS in Somalia claimed to kill a Somali intelligence agent in Bakara Market, Mogadishu on May 14, according to the ISIS-affiliated Amaq News Agency. ISIS has claimed at least four attacks in Bakara Market since April 25. Bakara Market is Somalia’s largest market.[7]

[1] “Suspected US airstrike kills 3 al-Qaeda operative in Yemen,” AP, May 15, 2018,; “UAV targets a vehicle belonging to al Qaeda elements in Khawrah in Shabwah,” Aden Lang, May 14, 2018,; and “Shabwah...Drone strikes,” Barakish, May 15, 2018,
[2] “Houthis say fire rocket at southern Saudi military base,” Reuters, May 15, 2018,; “Saudi forces intercept missile fired by Yemen's Houthis: state media,” Reuters, May 15, 2018,; “Badr 1 ballistic levels King Faisal military base in Jizan,” Al Masirah, May 15, 2018,; and “Leadership of the coalition forces supporting the legitimacy in Yemen: Saudi Royal Air Force intercepts a ballistic missile launched by the Houthi terrorist militia of Iran towards the Kingdom,” SPA, May 15, 2018,
[3] AQAP assassinates Ali Mohammed al Tayabi, Telegram, May 14, 2018.
[4] “Oppression of Baha’is in Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, May 14, 2018,
[5] “Leaders defiant as fighting continues in Tukaraq,” Goobjoog, May 15, 2018,; “Somaliland and Puntland forces clash in Tukaraq, casualties feared” Goobjoog, May 15, 2018,; “Heavy fighting erupts in Tukaraq in the disputed Sool region,” Radio Shabelle, May 15, 2018,
[6] Shabaab Video Shows Life of Fighters in Golis Mountains, Footage from June 2017 Af Urur Raid, SITE, May 14, 2018, available by subscription at
[7] Investigate Dossier, May 14, 2018,

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