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: ISIS Wilayat al Bayda releases first video since October 2017; Emirati forces withdraw from Socotra Island; militants attack Saudi military camp in eastern Yemen; UAE announces death of Emirati soldier in Yemen

Horn of Africa: UNHCR temporarily suspends Sudanese refugee resettlement program; demonstrators protest the disappearance of university staff member in Afar region, northern Ethiopia; al Shabaab claims killing of an SNA soldier and two security and intelligence officials outside of Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda released its first video since October 2017, titled “Good Citizens,” on May 16. The video glamorized jihadi life in al Bayda, provided instructions on firing mortars, and called on foreign fighters to join jihad. The video included a compilation of ISIS attacks on al Houthi forces, including the execution of a captured al Houthi soldier and the crucifixion of an al Houthi soldier that ISIS media had previously shared in August 2017.[1]

Emirati forces withdrew from Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden on May 17. The soldiers and multiple armored vehicles left aboard three Emirati aircraft. The UAE deployed more than 100 soldiers and several armored vehicles to the island on May 2. A Saudi-Yemeni delegation arrived on May 13 to mediate tensions between the UAE and local Hadi government officials over the UAE’s military presence on Socotra.[2] 

Militants attacked a Saudi military camp with small arms fire at the airport in al Ghaydah city, the coastal capital of al Mahrah governorate in eastern Yemen, on March 17. Saudi Arabia began deploying soldiers and security equipment to al Mahrah in November 2017 to counter smuggling in the governorate.[3]

The UAE announced the death of an Emirati soldier participating in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on May 17. The UAE provided no further information regarding the circumstances of the soldier’s death.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The United National High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, temporarily suspended its Sudanese refugee resettlement program due to two ongoing investigations conducted by the UNHCR’s independent inspector general’s office on May 17. UNHCR launched the investigations in February and March after reports from refugees of alleged fraud. Resettlement is an option for refugees who are unable to voluntarily return or locally integrate. The refugees are escaping the ongoing conflict in the region that has displaced millions since 2003.[5]

Protests against the abduction and disappearance of Samara University human resource manager Salih Rashid are spreading in Afar region, northern Ethiopia. Protests began at Samara University on May 17. The reason for Mr. Rashid’s disappearance is unknown, but protesters are linking it to the Ethiopian government’s ongoing crackdown on dissent. The protests have spread to 32 districts. Rashid Saalih, another Samara staff member, disappeared in December 2017, according to his son. Mr. Saalih reportedly held opposition political views.[6]

Al Shabaab claimed its militants killed an SNA soldier and two Somali security and intelligence officials in the outskirts of Mogadishu on May 18, according to al Shahada news agency.[7]

[1] “New video message from The Islamic State: ‘Habitat of Good Things – Wilāyat al-Bayḍā',” Jihadology, May 16, 2018,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, May 17, 2018,
[2] “UAE forces leave Socotra Island,” Al Masdar, May 17, 2018,; and “UAE begins evacuating forces from yemen’s Socotra,” Middle East Monitor, May 18, 2018,
[3] “Urgent: The first armed attack targeting an Arab coalition camp in southern Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, May 17, 2018,; and “An armed attack targeting a security point at the airport east of al Ghaydah,” Al Yemen Today, May 17, 2018,
[4] “The General Command of the Armed Forces announces the martyrdom of Sergeant Saeed Mohammed al Hajri, one of its heroic heroes who is involved in the Restoring Hope operation,” WAM, May 17, 2018,; and “UAE announces death of one of its soldiers in Yemen,” Al Masdar, May 18, 2018,
[5] “UNHR suspends resettlement programme from Sudan as fraud probe gathers steam,” UNHR, May 17, 2018,; and “Sudan: After years of conflict, millions require aid; but is the world paying attention?,” UN News, February 21, 2018,
[6] Protest in Semera, Ethiopia, Addis Standard, May 18, 2018,; “Violence in Afar region is underway,” Voa News, May 17, 2018,; “An academic in Afar region goes missing, claims a son,” Ethiopia Observer, February 24, 2018,; and “Unlawful and arbitrary arrest of Rashid Saalih,” Afar Party, April 9, 2018,
[7] Al Shabaab claims militants kill SNA soldier and two security and intelligence officials, Telegram, May 18, 2018.

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