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: Southern Yemeni groups form “Southern National Coalition” in support of President Hadi; Sudan reconsiders support for the Saudi-led coalition; UAE deploys troops and armored vehicles to Socotra island in the Gulf of Aden; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with Hadi government Foreign Minister and GCC Secretary General in Riyadh

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab emir Ahmed Umar urges AQAP to conduct more attacks; al Shabaab militants kill aid worker in Mogadishu; al Shabaab conducts three attacks targeting Somali forces around Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

The General People’s Congress, the Islah party, the southern resistance, the Southern Peace Movement, and other southern-aligned groups announced the formation of a southern political coalition in order to create a framework for national leadership under the name “Southern National Coalition.” The signatories of the coalition expressed its support for internationally recognized  Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and declared the its commitment to peaceful political action in a statement by the coalition. A member of the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) denied their involvement with the new coalition saying the creation of the coalition undermines the STC. President of the Southern Congress Mohammed Ali Ahmed reiterated his support for the coalition after sources reported Ahmed had withdrawn from the group.[1]

Sudan’s defense minister Ali Salem announced that Sudan is reconsidering its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Sudan is assessing the impacts of its participation on Sudanese soldiers and Sudan’s hard-currency shortage. Sudan has deployed at least 3,000 troops to Yemen.[2]

The UAE deployed more than 100 troops and several armored vehicles to Socotra airport, northern Socotra island in the Gulf of Aden on May 2, according to local sources. The arriving Emirati forces reportedly expelled local security forces affiliated with the First Brigade of Naval Infantry from the airport. The UAE maintains a military presence on Socotra island to train Yemeni soldiers. Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Daghir’s ongoing April 28 visit to Socotra island coincides with the arrival of Emirati troops.[3]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with Hadi government Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi to discuss plans for renewed Yemen negotiations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 2. Griffiths also met with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Latif al Zayani to discuss the GCC’s support for reaching a political solution to the Yemen conflict in Riyadh on May 2. Griffiths announced the start of a new round of consultations with Yemeni stakeholders on April 30.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar called on AQAP militants to increase suicide operations and assassinations targeting security personnel in Yemen on May 1. Umar encouraged AQAP to persist in its fight against the U.S.-backed Yemeni regime and to maintain efforts to oust Saudi and Emirati forces. He also called on Yemeni tribes to support AQAP with money and fighters. Umar addressed the Yemen jihad one week after releasing a statement calling for foreign fighters to go to Syria on April 23.[5] 

Al Shabaab militants killed a World Health Organization (WHO) aid worker in Bakara Market, Mogadishu on May 1. The WHO delivered over four tons of medical supplies to Beledweyne on 29 APR. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo promised humanitarian aid for those affected by flooding in central Somalia after visiting Beledweyne in Hiraan region on April 30. Floods have killed about five people in Beledweyne.[6]

Al Shabaab militants conducted three attacks near Mogadishu on May 2. Al Shabaab militants killed a Somali soldier in Karan district, Mogadishu. Militants killed a Somali soldier and a qat trader in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market. Al Shabaab militants also raided a Somali National Army (SNA) checkpoint in the Hawa Abdi area outside of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab conducted two attacks against Somali security forces on May 1.[7] 

[1] “Mohammed Ali Ahmed denies his withdrawal from the Southern National Coalition,” Aden Ghd, May 2, 2018,; “The announcement of a new component in Yemen under the name of 'Southern National Coalition',” al Masdar, May 2, 2018,; and The first comment from the Transitional Council on the formation of 'Southern National Coalition',” Erem News, May 2, 2018,
[2] “Sudan assessing military participation in Yemen: defense minister,” Reuters, May 2, 2018,
[3] “More than one hundred Emirati soldiers arrive Socotra in conjunction with the presence of the Prime Minister,” Al Masdar, May 2, 2018,; “Breaking: Large Emirati forces arrive in Socotra and are deployed as soon as they arrive and the government there is surprised,” Mareb Press, May 2, 2018,; “Breaking: Major UAE troops including tanks arrive in Socotra,” Aden Tomorrow, May 2, 2018,; and “Yemen officials say Emiratis boost forces on Socotra island,” Washington Post, May 2, 2018,
[4] “Yemen Foreign Minister meets with UN Envoy Martin Griffiths,” Saba New, May 2, 2018,; “Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al Makhlafi met here today with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths,” SPA, May 2, 2018,; “Secretary General of the GCC discusses the Yemeni crisis with UN envoy,” Aden Tomorrow, May 2, 2018,; and “GCC Secretary General Meets UN Envoy to Yemen,” SPA, MAy 2, 2018,
[5] Shabaab leader rallies AQAP in audio speech, advises attack escalation, SITE, May 1, 2018, available by subscription at
[6] “President Farmajo calls for aid to flood victims in Beledweyne,” Radio Shabelle, May 1, 2018,; and “WHO aid worker shot dead in Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, May 1, 2018,
[7] Al Shabaab claims attack on Somali forces, Telegram, May 2, 2018; and “Soldier, khat trader killed in drive-by shooting in Bakaro market,” Goobjoog, May 2, 2018,

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