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. House of Representatives advances amendment requiring U.S. Department of Defense to investigate allegations of torture in Yemen; Saudi-led coalition-backed forces seize control of new positions in southern al Hudaydah governorate; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile at Saudi-led coalition military camp in Najran region, Saudi Arabia; UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator calls on Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government to ease food and fuel import restrictions

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike kills 10 al Shabaab militants 15 miles southwest of Mogadishu; African Union confirms ISIS’s expansion into Somalia; Somalia’s international partners call for Somaliland and Puntland forces to cease fighting in Tuko Raq

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. House of Representatives advanced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on May 24 requiring the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate whether or not U.S. allies in Yemen tortured detainees and if U.S. personnel took part in interrogations in which torture was used. Human rights groups have accused the UAE and Emirati-backed security forces of using torture as an interrogation method against detainees in secret Emirati-run prisons across southern and eastern Yemen. U.S. law prohibits the use of any interrogation methods by U.S. personnel not authorized in the U.S. Army field manual on human intelligence collection.[1]

Saudi-led coalition-backed forces seized control of new positions along the border between al Tuhayta district and Zabid district in southern al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on May 24, according to local sources. Coalition backed National Resistance Forces and Southern Giants Brigade forces seized control of Hima port from al Houthi forces in Tuhayta district on May 13.[2]

Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting a Saudi-led coalition military camp in Bir Askar, northwest of Najran city in Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia on May 25. Saudi air defenses intercepted the ballistic missile on May 25, according to coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki.[3]

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock called on the Saudi-led coalition and internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to ease restrictions on food and fuel imports coming through Yemeni ports on May 24. Lowcock added that current escalations in the Yemen conflict risk putting another 10 million Yemenis at risk of starvation.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike that killed 10 al Shabaab militants 15 miles southwest of Mogadishu on May 23. The U.S. significantly increased airstrikes against al Shabaab and ISIS under both President Obama and President Trump.[5] 

The African Union (AU) confirmed that ISIS has expanded into Somalia. The AU confirmed ISIS’s expansion during the fifth meeting of the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services (HISS) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African Community (EAC) member states in Entebbe, central Uganda on May 24.  Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) to Somalia Francisco Madeira stated that ISIS’s expulsion from the Gulf has led the group to use the Indian Ocean coastline to infiltrate Somalia and establish sleeper terrorist cells. Madeira confirmed ISIS is conducting operations in Puntland region, northeastern Somalia and has expanded toward Mogadishu. [6]  

Somalia’s international partners called for Somaliland and Puntland forces to end the fighting in Tuko Raq and engage in dialogue on May 24. The international partners that called for the ceasefire include the U.S., the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Ethiopia, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The international partners expressed concern the fighting is occurring in the midst of an already severe humanitarian crisis, which Cyclone Sager further exacerbated last week. Somaliland and Puntland forces clashed for the second time in May on May 24. [7]

[1] “House votes to Mandate Investigation of U.S. involvement in Yemen’s Secret Torture Prisons,” The Intercept, May 24, 2018,
[2] “Government forces regain control of the first areas of Zabid district,” Al Masdar, May 24, 2018,; “Yemeni Forces cut off road linking Zubaid an al Tahita in Hodeidah as ?Houthi defences collapse,” Khabar Agency, May 24, 2018,; and “Sweeping victories in al Tuhayta and cutting off a major supply line with Zabid - the latest developments in the military scene there,” Mareb Press, May 25, 2018,
[3] “Breaking..Rocket force fires a ballistic missile at Bir Askar in Najran,” Saba, May 25, 2018,; “Badr 1 ballistic missile targets military camp in Najran,” Al Masirah, May 25, 2018,; and “Coalition Forces Command ‘Coalition for Supporting the Legitimacy in Yemen’ Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces Destroy Ballistic Missile Fired by Iran’s Al Houthi Terrorist Militia towards KSA,” SPA, May 25, 2018,
[4] “Human suffering at risk of further deterioration, warns UN aid chief,” UN News, May 24, 2018,; and “U.N. urges Saudi-led coalition to speed Yemen imports, avoid starvation,” Reuters, May 25, 2018,
[5] “10 Al Shabaab Militants Killed in US Airstrike Near Mogadishu, Somalia,” Intelligence Briefs, May 25, 2018,;  “Somalia U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM, May 24, 2015,
[6] “AU confirms ISIS infiltration in countries, including Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, May 24, 2018,
[7] “Puntland and Somaliland Forces Clash Again in Tukaraq,” Intelligence Briefs, May 25 2018,; John Snow, “Somalia: Int’l partners call for ceasefire in Tukaraq town,” Mareeg, May 25, 2018,; and “Somalia’s international partners gravely concerned over clashes near Tukaraq, call for ceasefire,” UNSOm, May 24, 2018,

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