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 conducts airstrikes in Sana’a; al Qaeda video accuses Islamic State in Yemen of aggression in al Bayda

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab demands ransom for Cuban doctors; Kenya warns of al Shabaab plots during Ramadan; SNA raids al Shabaab positions in Gedo region; SNA soldiers protest in Baidoa

 Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition conducted multiple airstrikes in the al Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sana’a on May 16. The airstrikes targeted al Houthi camps and weapons caches. Al Houthi media claimed that the strikes killed six civilians.[1]

Al Qaeda’s al Hidayah Media group released the seventh episode of its video series “Allah Testifies that they are Liars” on May 14. The episode focuses on the Islamic State in Yemen and its aggression against civilians in the Qayfa area of al Bayda governorate in central Yemen, where the Islamic State has clashed with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab demanded a ransom of 1.5 million US dollars in exchange for the release of two Cuban doctors on May 16. Al Shabaab communicated the demand to clan elders in Jubbaland state in southern Somalia, where the doctors are believed to be held. Al Shabaab kidnapped the doctors on April 12 from a clinic near the Somali border in Kenya’s Mandera County.[3] 

Kenya’s National Police Service warned of possible al Shabaab attacks against places of worship in Kenya on May 16. The police cited al Shabaab’s history of conducting high-profile attacks in Kenya during Ramadan and noted that al Shabaab had recently vowed to avenge the killing of Muslims at a mosque in New Zealand.[4]

The Somali National Army (SNA) raided al Shabaab positions in two villages near Garbaharey town in Gedo region in southwestern Somalia on May 16. SNA forces killed at least eight al Shabaab militants but lost multiple soldiers as well.[5]

SNA forces surrounded and barricaded government offices in Baidoa, the capital of Somalia’s South West State, on May 16. The soldiers were protesting a lack of rations and salaries.[6]

[1] “Saudi-led coalition in Yemen strikes Sana’a, casualties reported,” Reuters, May 16, 2019,; and “Arab Coalition conducts air operations on Houthi targets in Yemen,” Emirati News Agency, May 16, 2019,

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, May 15, 2019,

[3] “Al-Shabaab demand $1.5 million ransom for kidnapped Cuban doctors,” The East African, May 16, 2019,

[4] “Kenyan Police on high alert over possible Al-Shabaab attack,” Garowe, May 16, 2019,

[5] Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 16, 2019,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 16, 2019,

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