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: UN Envoy condemns attack on his convoy in Sana’a; Hadi government forces seize Medical College and Central Bank in Taiz city; al Houthi-Saleh forces kill Islah party leader during Ma’rib clashes

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate VBIED near Mogadishu port; al Shabaab militants conduct three IED attacks in northeastern Kenya; USAID announces $329 million in additional aid for South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen

Yemen Security Brief

The UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed condemned the May 22 attack on his convoy near Sana’a International Airport in a May 24 statement. Ould Cheikh Ahmed expressed his “deep concern” over the attack and urged the al Houthi-Saleh leadership to investigate the incident, hold the attackers responsible, and prevent violence against negotiators in the future. Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a preliminary ceasefire deal to the al Houthi-Saleh bloc during his visit that focused on al Hudaydah port and Sana’a International Airport, as well as the unification of the Yemeni Central Bank. Al Houthi-Saleh negotiators reportedly presented additional terms that included the withdrawal of Hadi government forces from parts of Hajjah and Taiz governorates, which Ould Cheikh Ahmed dismissed.[1]

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi seized the Taiz University Medical College and Central Bank office from al Houthi-Saleh forces in eastern Taiz city on May 24. Hadi government forces are still fighting for control of Taiz’s Presidential Palace and the nearby al Ammar School, where al Houthi-Saleh forces are based. The Hadi government’s 22nd Mechanized Brigade, which includes the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-linked Abu Abbas Brigade, began the offensive on May 22.[2] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Hadi government forces in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on May 24. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill Colonel Salah Faqa’s, a prominent Islah party leader from al Otma district, Dhamar governorate, and thirteen Hadi government fighters. Hadi government forces killed 12 al Houthi-Saleh fighters, according to pro-Islah media. Hadi government forces commanded by Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar are attempting to advance west through Ma’rib in order to launch an operation to recapture Sana’a, Yemen’s capital.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near Mogadishu port on May 24. The blast killed at least eight people and wounded 15 others. The militants detonated the parked VBIED outside a popular restaurant in Hamar Jabjab district near the city port. The attack indicates that al Shabaab is capable of thwarting the Somali Federal Government’s intensified security efforts in the city. Somali security forces interdicted two al Shabaab VBIED attacks and arrested dozens of suspected militants in the past week.[4]

Al Shabaab militants detonated three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting Kenyan police forces and government officials in northeastern Kenya on May 24 and 25. The first IED struck a Kenyan police vehicle near Liboi village in Garissa County, located 10 miles from the Kenyan-Somali border, on May 24. The second IED struck the convoy of Mandera County Governor Ali Roba in Mandera town, also located on the Kenyan-Somali border, on May 24. The third IED struck a Kenyan police vehicle in Liboi on May 25. Al Shabaab killed at least 11 Kenyan security forces and wounded 10 others in the attacks. Governor Roba was unharmed. Al Shabaab has intensified cross-border attacks against Kenyan police and civilians in recent weeks in an effort to drive public pressure for the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia ahead of Kenya’s general elections in August.[5] 

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the U.S. will provide more than $329 million in additional humanitarian aid to millions of people in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. The aid will provide emergency food, water, medical supplies, and shelter for people affected by violent conflict, drought and famine conditions, and disease. The additional aid brings total U.S. assistance for these four countries to nearly $1.2 billion in 2017. More than six million people require humanitarian assistance in Somalia.[6]

[1] “Note to Correspondents: UN Special Envoy to Yemen Concludes Visit to Sana’a,” UN Secretary-General, 24 May, 2017,; Jamal Shintir, “Diplomatic source: Ould Cheikh failed in his mission,” Aden Tomorrow, May 25, 2017,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review: May 24, 2017,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, May 24, 2017,
[2] “National army controls eastern Taiz sites, killing 7 militants,” Sabanews, May 24, 2017,; “Continued fighting east of Taiz, government forces repel attacks by al Houthi forces north of the city,” al Masdar, May, 25, 2017,; “Government forces control the College of Medicine hours after taking the central bank,” al Masdar, May 24, 2017,; and “Massive attack east of Taiz as the army seizes buildings leading to the Presidential Palace,” Mosnad, May 22, 2017,
[3] “Details of the mercenary losses in Sirwah, Ma’rib, during the past few hours,” al Masirah, May 24, 2017,; and “12 rebels dead and four captured during battles against government forces in western Ma’rib,” al Masdar, May 24, 2017,
[4] Abdi Guled, “Somalia Car Bomb Kills at Least 8 in Capital, Police Say,” Associated Press, May 24, 2017,
[5] “Somali Islamists kill eight Kenyan officers with roadside bombs,” Reuters, May 24, 2017,; and Joseph Akwiri and Humphrey Malalo, “Two more Kenyan police die in latest roadside bombing,” Reuters, May 25, 2017,
[6] “United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance in Response to Famine, Violence, and Forced Displacement,” USAID Press Office, May 24, 2017,
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