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: Hadi government delegation returns to Aden as southern Transitional Council seeks international support; AQAP denies U.S. account of Ma’rib raid; al Houthi movement breaks with former president Saleh on ceasefire proposals; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire three ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces

Horn of Africa: Former U.S. intelligence specialist gives surveillance drones to Somali police; SNA and AMISOM troops clash with local commissioners

Yemen Security Brief

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir, Aden Governor Abdul Aziz al Muflahi, and Abyan Governor Abu Bakr Hussein returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia on May 26. The group attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Aden’s restored electricity plant. The ceremony followed a “March of Candles” protest against power outages in Aden’s Khormaksar district. The delegation represents the government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which faces a challenge from the Transitional Political Council for the South formed on May 11. Transitional Political Council President Aydarus al Zubaidi traveled to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Cairo between May 19 and 26 in an effort to garner international support. Council members will also meet with officials from the UAE and the Arab League.[1] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement denying that the May 23 U.S. raid in Ma’rib governorate struck an AQAP camp. AQAP identified and praised five members of the Murad tribe who died in the fighting and claimed that the camp was not affiliated with al Qaeda. A pro-AQAP social media account also claimed that the Murad tribesmen forced the U.S. forces to retreat. U.S. Central Command reported that members of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 killed seven AQAP militants during the intelligence-gathering raid.[2]

Al Houthi movement leadership and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh may be pursuing different political lines of effort. The spokesman for the al Houthi Ansar Allah party, Mohammed Abdul Salam, denied that any representatives of the al Houthi-Saleh bloc met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on May 25. This statement contradicts photos published by the al Houthi-Saleh government’s news outlet showing a May 23 meeting between the UN envoy and two Saleh allies, Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Habtour and Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf. Sharaf also met with acting Russian Ambassador to Yemen Andrey Chernovol in Sana’a on May 25 to discuss the UN envoy’s visit.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch three ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces on separate fronts on May 25 and 26. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch a “Zilzal-2” ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Mawza district, western Taiz governorate on May 25, a “Zilzal-1” missile toward al Jawf governorate on May 26, and a “Zilzal-2” missile toward Nihm district, Sana’a governorate. The missile attacks are not confirmed.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Former U.S. intelligence specialist Brett Velicovich donated five surveillance drones to Somali police on May 26. The donation is intended to counter a recent uptick in al Shabaab complex attacks and bombings.[5]  

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers detained the Deputy District Commissioner of Jalalaqsi town in Hiraan region, central Somalia on May 26. Djiboutian AMISOM soldiers detained the commissioner following a disagreement over the management of security in Jalalaqsi town. A Somali National Army (SNA) soldier shot and wounded the Deputy District Commissioner of Elwaq, Sahal Moalim Adan, in his home in Gedo region, southern Somalia on May 25.[6]

[1] “Prime Minister arrives in Aden to open a power plant with 60 MW capacity,” al Masdar, May 26, 2017,; “‘March of Candles’ continues to demand better electricity service in the capital of Aden,” Aden Lange, May 26, 2017,; “Zubaidi leaves Abu Dhabi for Cairo,” Barakish, May 24, 2017,; “Hadramawt governor in Mukalla returning from UAE,” Aden Lange, May 25, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, May 24, 2017,
[2] “AQAP Denies U.S. Special Forces Attacked its Camp in Marib, Praises Tribesmen for Stand Against Enemy,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 26, 2017, available by subscription at; Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper, “Navy SEALs Kill 7 Militants in Yemen Raid but Suffer Injuries,” The New York Times, May 23, 2017,
[3] “Abdul Salam denies Ould Cheikh’s story,” al Masirah, May 25, 2017,; “Prime Minister receives UN Envoy to Yemen,” Sabanews, May 23, 2017,; “Foreign Minister meets with Acting Russian Ambassador in Sana’a,” Sabanews, May 25, 2017,; and Tyler Nocita and Maher Farrukh, “Yemen Situation Report,” Critical Threats Project, April 28, 2017,
[4] “Zilzal-2 launched at mercenaries in Taiz,” Sabanews, May 25, 2017,; “Zilzil-1 fired at mercenaries in al Jawf,” al Masirah, May 26, 2017,; and “Zilzal-2 and Katyushas fired at mercenaries in insatiable,” al Masirah, May 26, 2017,
[5] Abdirahman Hussein and Katharine Houreld, “Exclusive: Somali police get first drones to combat Islamist bombings,” May 26, 2017,
[6] “AMISOM troops detain Jalalaqsi district commissioner,” Goobjoog News, May 26, 2017,; and “Soldier injures top district official in Elwak town,” Shabelle News, May 26, 2017,

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