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: U.S. Secretary of State meets with UN Special Envoy to Yemen; Hadi government Interior Minister suggests UAE occupies Yemen; al Houthi forces fire three ballistic missile at Saudi economic and military targets in southwestern Saudi Arabia; AQAP militants kill two al Houthi soldiers in al Bayda governorate; Yemeni counterterrorism forces arrest senior ISIS commander in southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali government appoints new governor for the Lower Shabelle region and president for the Southwest state; Burundi opposition coalition rejects constitutional referendum results; U.S. Secretary of State reinforces U.S. support for Kenya; Kenyan police arrest al Shabaab facilitator in Nairobi

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to discuss renewed peace talks for the Yemeni civil war in Washington, DC on May 18. Secretary Pompeo pledged to support Griffiths’ efforts and encourage international partners to do the same. Secretary Pompeo demanded that Iran ends its involvement in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Afghanistan as a condition for a future nuclear deal with Iran in a separate speech on May 21.[1]

Hadi government Interior Minister Ahmed al Misri suggested that Yemen is under Emirati occupation during an interview with PBS on May 17. Al Misri alleged that Hadi government officials need approval from the UAE to enter or leave Aden city and that Emirati forces control Yemeni prisons. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash rejected allegations of Emirati occupation of Yemen and emphasized the UAE’s mission of defeating the al Houthi movement, supporting the Hadi government, and providing development to Yemen on May 20.[2] 

Al Houthi forces fired three ballistic missiles at Saudi economic and military targets on May 18, 19, and 21. Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 missile at a Saudi “radar” brigade in Khamis Mushayt city, Asir region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on May 19. Al Houthi forces also fired a Badr 1 missile at an economic target in Jizan city, southwestern Saudi Arabia on May 18 and a Badr 1 missile at the Jizan airport on May 21. Saudi air defenses destroyed the May 21 missile over Jizan city. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki claimed the al Houthi movement targeted residential areas on May 21.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants killed two al Houthi soldiers and seized their weapons in Mukayras district in eastern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on May 20, according to an official AQAP media channel. AQAP militants last targeted al Houthi forces in Mukayras district with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) on April 6.[4] 

Rapid Intervention forces arrested a senior Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) commander in Yafa’a district, northern Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on May 19, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior claimed that the detainee is the emir of ISIS in Yafa’a.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) appointed Mohamed Ibrahim Barre to replace Ibrahim Aden Najah as governor of the Lower Shabelle region in Somalia on May 21. Najah simultaneously replaced Mohamed Abdullahi Mursal as state minister of the presidency of the Southwest State. The SFG removed Mursal due to corruption. The Lower Shabelle region borders Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu and is an important farming region. The Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Bakool regions form the Southwest State.[6] 

The Burundian opposition coalition rejected the preliminary results of the May 17 constitutional referendum. The referendum extends the president’s tenure from five to seven year and allows incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza to run again in 2020 for two more consecutive terms. Human rights groups reported abuse and intimidation during the campaign period. The Burundian government will report the final referendum results on May 21.[7]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reinforced U.S. support for Kenya’s security and economic development during talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 18. Pompeo and Kenyatta also discussed combating terrorism, facilitating good governance, and boosting regional security.[8]

Kenyan police arrested a suspected al Shabaab facilitator in Kayole, Nairobi, Kenya on May 20. Police arrested Francis Macharia Karishu two days after placing a $10,000 bounty on him.[9]

[1] “Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths,” U.S. Department of State, May 18, 2018,; and Josh Lederman, “US issues steep list of demands for nuclear treaty with Iran,” AP, May 21, 2018,
[2] “Yemen’s Interior Minister: Our country is occupied by the UAE,” Middle East Monitor, May 21, 2018,; “UAE Foreign Minister rejects claims that UAE is occupying Yemen,” Twitter, May 20, 2018,; and “Ahmed al Misri provides interview to PBS,” PBS, May 17, 2018,
[3] “The rocket force targets Jizan airport with the Badr 1 missile,” Saba News, May 21, 2018,; “Launch of a ballistic missile on the radar brigade in Khamis Mushait,” Saba News, May 19, 2018,; “The missile force targets the Badr 1 city, the economic city of Jizan,” May 18, 2018,; “Command of the Joint Forces of the Alliance Alliance of Legal Support in Yemen: Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces intercept a ballistic missile launched by the Houthi terrorist militia of Iran towards the Kingdom,” Saudi Press Agency, May 21, 2018,
[4] “AQAP claimed to kill two al Houthi soldiers in Mukayras district, al Bayda,” Telegram, May 21, 2018.
[5] “Interior Ministry announces the arrest of the Emir of ISIS and others in Lahj,” Al Masdar, May 19, 2018,
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 21, 2018,
[7] “Burundi opposition leader rejects referendum ahead of result,” Al Jazeera, May 19, 2018,
[8] Kevin J. Kelly, “US top diplomat Mike Pompeo calls Uhuru, offers support,” Hiiraan Online, May 19, 2018,
[9] “Wanted al Shabaab facilitator arrested in Kenya,” Radio Shabelle, May 21, 2018,

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