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: Saudi air defenses intercept al Houthi drone in Jizan region; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Dhaleh governorate; French Foreign Minister reiterates calls for Saudi Arabia and UAE to end war in Yemen

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM conducts two airstrikes against al Shabaab in Puntland; al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM base in Lower Jubba region; Puntland suspends cooperation with SFG; SFG to stop attending meetings in Nairobi due to diplomatic dispute

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted an al Houthi drone near a regional airport in Jizan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia on May 26. Al Houthi forces previously conducted three drone attacks against an airport in neighboring Najran region between May 21 and May 23.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted multiple airstrikes against al Houthi forces in western Qatabah district in northern Dhaleh governorate in central Yemen on May 28. Al Houthi forces and forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi are fighting in central and northern Qatabah district.[2]

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated France’s previous calls for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to end the conflict in Yemen on May 28. Le Drian stated that the French government needs to be “extremely vigilant” with foreign arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE due to their role in the conflict.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM) conducted two airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in the Golis Mountains in Puntland in northern Somalia on May 24 and May 26, respectively. Each airstrike killed three militants. AFRICOM has conducted six airstrikes against the Islamic State in Somalia and al Shabaab in the Golis Mountains since April.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base near the Kenyan border in Qoqani town in Lower Jubba region in southwestern Somalia on May 25. AMISOM forces repulsed the attack. Suspected al Shabaab militants separately assassinated a clan elder in Yaqshid district in the Somali capital Mogadishu on May 27.[5]

The Puntland government suspended all cooperation with the Somali Federal Government (SFG) on May 26. The Puntland government cited a lack of progress by the SFG on addressing Somalia’s constitutional review, federal elections laws, and national security. Puntland and four other Somali Federal Member States suspended ties with the SFG in September 2018. Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni held a summit in the Puntland capital Garowe in early May 2019 to address issues between the Federal Member States and the SFG, but the summit ended without an agreement.[6]

The SFG announced on May 25 that its officials will no longer attend meetings with foreign diplomats and aid organizations in the Kenyan capital Nairobi due to a diplomatic dispute between the SFG and Kenya. The SFG urged all Nairobi-based organizations that are working in Somalia to relocate their offices to Mogadishu. Kenya and the SFG are engaged in a maritime boundary dispute.[7]

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[1] “Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone toward King Abdullah Airport in Jizan,” Emirates News Agency, May 28, 2019,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 28, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 23, 2019,

[2] Coalition bombing militia positions in north of Dhaleh,” Yafa News, May 28, 2019,; and “A counter-attack of the joint forces follow a Houthi attempt to infiltrate north of Qatabah in Dhaleh,” Khabar Agency, May 28, 2019,

[3] “French minister Le Drian urges Saudi and UAE to end war in Yemen,” Reuters, May 28, 2019,; and “New criticism over French foreign arms shipment to Saudi Arabia,” France 24, May 28, 2019,

[4] “Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. airstrikes continue to target al-Shabaab, ISIS-Somalia,” United States Africa Command, May 27, 2019,; “Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. target al-Shabaab network,” United States Africa Command, May 25, 2019,; and “Three militants killed in fresh US airstrike in Somalia,” Garowe, May 28, 2019,

[5] “Deadly assault hits KDF base in Somalia,” Mareeg, May 26, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 25, 2019,; and “Somali well-known elder shot dead in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, May 27, 2019,

[6] “Puntland suspends cooperation with central Government,” Garowe, May 28, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 28, 2019,

[7] “Somali calls on Nairobi-based int’l partners to relocate to Mogadishu,” Garowe, May 28, 2019,; “No more meetings in Nairobi, Mogadishu tells aid partners,” Goobjoog, May 26, 2019,; and “Somalia’s boundary tiff with Kenya takes new turn,” Garowe, May 28, 2019,

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