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: Islamic State claims third attack against AQAP in al Bayda in a week; al Houthi-aligned GPC faction elects new leaders; President Hadi meets U.S. Ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrike in Sana’a; Hadi-aligned forces claim to secure sites in Sa’ada governorate

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike kills al Shabaab commander responsible for death of U.S. soldier; al Shabaab operatives surrender in Gedo; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate IED in Barire town; former al Shabaab deputy’s militia clashes with al Shabaab in Bakool

Yemen Security Brief

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed its third attack against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in a week in the Qayfa area in Wald Rabia district in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on May 2. AQAP released a statement on May 1 claiming that the Islamic State’s previous attacks against AQAP had targeted civilians rather than AQAP fighters as the Islamic State had alleged.[1]

The al Houthi-aligned wing of the General People’s Conference (GPC) convened in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on April 2. The meeting was the first for the al Houthi-aligned wing of the party since the death of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2017. The GPC delegates elected Saleh’s son Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Political Committee Qasem Labouza, and al Houthi-aligned parliamentarian Yahya al Ra'i to serve as vice presidents of the Sana’a-based GPC.[2]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller in Riyadh on May 2. The two discussed the Yemeni Central Bank’s effort towards economic stabilization, the resumption of oil and gas production, and investment in Yemen.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted an airstrike on al-Houthi-controlled Daylami Air Base in Sana’a on May 1.[4]

President Hadi’s army claimed to secure several sites near the Kataf district center in eastern Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen on May 1.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) announced that an April 19 airstrike in southern Somalia killed Abdullahi Jibiyow, an al Shabaab commander who oversaw an attack in 2018 that killed a U.S. soldier in Somalia. Jibiyow had been responsible for the attack on a forward operating base in Sanguni in Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia on June 8, 2018 that killed U.S. Army Staff Sargent Alexander Conrad and multiple Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers.[6]

Militias loyal to former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow clashed with al Shabaab militants in Bakool region in southern Somalia on May 2. Robow defected to the Somali Federal Government (SFG) in August 2017. SFG security forces arrested Robow in December 2018 after he announced his candidacy for President of South West State, which the SFG declared illegal.[7]

Four al Shabaab operatives defected to the SFG in Gedo Region in Southern Somalia on May 2. One of these operatives, Ahmed Aden, was a senior bomb maker for the group. Nine al Shabaab members have defected to the SFG in Gedo this week. Al Shabaab separately claimed that 10 soldiers from the Jubbaland Security Forces defected to al Shabaab in Gedo region in the same period.[8]

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting SNA soldiers in Barire town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on May 2. The explosion caused multiple casualties. Somali Danab special forces captured Barire, which is located 60 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, from al Shabaab on May 1.[9]

Visit our Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia story streams.

[1] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, May 1, 2019,

[2] “The ‘Sana’a’ pro-Houthi conference selects “Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh’ as Abu Ras’s deputy in the leadership of the conference,” Al Mashad al Yemeni, May 2, 2019,

[3] “The meeting of the President of the Republic with the US Ambassador confirms the return of investment companies oil and gas to Yemen,” Yemen Window, May 2, 2019,

[4] “The coalition talks about implementing a qualitative operation in Sana’a,” Mareb Press, May 2, 2019,

[5] “Army tightens noose around Houthi militia stronghold in Sa’ada,” September Net, May 1, 2019,

[6] “Al-Shabaab fighter responsible for US soldier’s death has been killed by US forces,” Army Times, May 1, 2019,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 2, 2019,; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Former Al-Shabab no. 2 arrested in Somalia,” Voice of America, December 13, 2018,

[8] “Somalia welcomes nine defected from Al Shabaab,” Mareeg, May 2, 2019,

[9] “Deadly Explosion Hits Minivan In South Of Somalia,” Mareeg, May 2, 2019,

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