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: explosions occur near Yemeni military checkpoints in Aden governorate; Yemeni security forces foil terrorist operations in Sana’a capital; President Hadi announces state of “open war” against AQAP; Yemeni airstrikes target AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen announces that at least half of Yemen’s population in need of humanitarian assistance

Horn of Africa: al Shabaab leader releases statement addressing Kenyan presence in Somalia; two IEDs explode in market in Nairobi

Yemen Security Brief

  • A series of explosions occurred near Yemeni military checkpoints in Aden governorate on May 14. Yemeni security sources allege that terrorist elements planted and detonated the explosives, although no group has yet taken responsibility for the event. No casualties or damage to nearby infrastructure have been reported.[1]
  • The Yemeni Interior Ministry announced on May 15 that security forces had foiled "a number of cowardly terrorist operations that al Qaeda had planned in the capital ‘targeting’ vital government establishments, security and military headquarters as well as some foreign embassies." Yemeni security forces also arrested a number of individuals whom they allege were planning terrorist attacks in Sana’a capital, some of whom were reported as foreign fighters from Syria.[2]
  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced on May 15 that Yemen is in “open war” against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). President Hadi stated that additional military offensives may be extended from Abyan and Shabwah governorates into al Bayda and Ma’rib governorates in order to fully expel AQAP from Yemen’s southern regions.[3]
  • Reported Yemeni airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in Azzan city in Shabwah governorate on May 15. Additional ground forces comprised of Yemeni security forces and Popular Committee members launched a ground offensive in Azzan city and neighboring suburbs on the same day. A Yemeni security source reported that AQAP suffered “great losses” as a result of the offensive.[4]
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, announced during a news conference in Geneva on May 15 that at least 15 million Yemenis, nearly half of Yemen’s total population, are in need of some form of humanitarian aid. Van Der Klaauw urged the international community to continue providing financial support to Yemen as it strives to complete its political transition process.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair, released a statement broadcasted through an al Shabaab-affiliated radio station in Barawe in Lower Shabelle region on May 15. Within the statement, Godane declares that al Shabaab is winning their war against Kenya, which was prompted by Kenya’s 2012 military incursion into southern Somalia under AMISOM. Godane claimed that al Shabaab militants have inflicted setbacks on the Kenyan Defense Forces operating in Somalia, contributing to Kenya’s current economic hardship.[6]
  • Two improvised explosive devices (IED) detonated nearly simultaneously in Gikomba market in Nairobi on May 16. Reports indicate that the first explosion occurred aboard a minibus travelling in the market, whereas the second explosion occurred shortly after in a nearby area of the market. Initial estimates suggest that at least ten people were killed and as many as seventy more were wounded in the explosions. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts, the Kenyan government traditionally blames al Shabaab for such violence. The explosions came less than a week after the Australian, British, French, and US governments each issued official warnings for their citizens travelling to Kenya, citing specific security concerns in the country.[7]

[2] “Yemen says it has foiled al Qaeda attacks in Sanaa,” Reuters, May 16, 2014. Available:
[3] “Yemen president says country in open war against al Qaeda,” Reuters, May 15, 2014. Available:
[5] “UN relief official urges support for over 14 million Yemenis in need of assistance,” UN News Centre, May 15, 2014. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Military incursion plunges Kenya into economic meltdown-Al Shabaab Boss,” Garowe Online, May 15, 2014. Available:
[7] Drazen Jorgic and Humphrey Malalo, “Back-to-back blasts kill at least 10 in Kenyan capital,” Reuters, May 16, 2014. Available:
Josh Halliday and Hannah McNeish,” Nairobi rocked by two deadly explosions,” The Guardian, May 16, 2014. Available:
“Kenya fumes as Western security warnings drive tourists out,” Reuters, May 16, 2014. Available:
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