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-led coalition-backed forces secure primary road along Yemen’s Red Sea coast; Iranian officials agree to cooperate with European nations for a ceasefire in Yemen; UAE forces arrest southern resistance leader in Aden; AQAP releases video on Hadramawt operations; AQAP militants ambush Emirati-backed security forces in southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab fighters ambush AMISOM personnel carrier in Golweyn area, 75 miles south of Mogadishu; Somali president appoints new chairman of the Supreme Court; al Shabaab and ISIS assassinate officials in Mogadishu; Somaliland police arrest protesters and journalists at a pro-Somali Federal Government demonstration in Las Anod; Kenya increases security along its northeastern border

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition-backed forces secured the primary road along Yemen’s western coast linking al Hudaydah city to Mokha port in Taiz governorate. Coalition-backed forces seized al Zaraniq military base and al Darayhimi city, 20 kilometers south of al Hudaydah port, in western Yemen on May 29. National Resistance Forces, the Southern Giants Brigade, the Tihama Resistance, Sudanese forces, and Emirati forces seized multiple other positions in al Tuhayat, Bayt al Faqiah and al Darayhimi districts in southern al Hudaydah governorate between May 25 and 29. Al Houthi forces withdrew towards al Husseiniya and Bayt al Faqiah cities on May 27. Al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi called on al Houthi loyalists and tribesmen to confront the coalition-backed forces in al Hudaydah on May 28. Al Houthi forces fired multiple ballistic missiles at coalition-backed forces on Yemen’s Red Sea coast on May 27 and 29. Al Houthi forces fired a Qaher M-2 ballistic missile on May 27 and a “batch” of ballistic missiles on May 29 at al Hudaydah governorate. Coalition air defenses intercepted six ballistic missiles on May 29, according to local sources.[1]

Iranian officials agreed to cooperate with European nations to achieve a ceasefire between al Houthi forces and the Saudi-led coalition, according to a May 29 Reuters report. European nations and Iran have been engaging in talks since February in an attempt to alleviate U.S. concerns over Iranian expansion in the Middle East and demonstrate Iran’s willingness to compromise with Western powers. The U.S. and Saudi-led coalition maintain that Iran provides ballistic missile technology to al Houthi forces.[2]

Emirati forces arrested southern resistance leader Walid al Idrisi in Aden city on May 27, sparking protests and vandalism targeting Emirati propaganda. Al Idrisi was critical of the UAE’s role in Yemen. Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces clashed with southern resistance fighters in al Mansoura district after the security forces tried to break up the protests. Emirati forces released al Idrisi on May 28 after al Idrisi publicly apologized to the UAE. The Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) accused the Islah party and Hadi government of stoking unrest in Aden and warned that Yemeni liberation will not end with “the expulsion of the last Houthi” on May 28.[3] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) al Malahem Media Foundation published a video highlighting footage of old attacks against Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on May 27. The video, titled “Their Path We Follow,” also contained audio clips from previous AQAP leadership and an overview of AQAP’s operations in Hadramawt governorate.[4]

AQAP militants ambushed Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in al Mahfad district, northern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on May 26. AQAP claimed to kill one soldier in the attack.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab fighters ambushed an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) armored personnel carrier in Golweyn area, 75 miles south of Mogadishu, on May 29. Al Shabaab militants initiated the conflict with a roadside explosion and then ambushed the vehicle. The fighting between al Shabaab and AMISOM forces lasted for hours.[6] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo appointed Bashe Yusuf Ahmed as chairman of the Supreme Court on May 27. Bashe Yusuf Ahmed replaced Ibrahim Idle Suleiman. The decision to fire Suleiman was part of a larger plan to overhaul Somalia’s judicial system, according to a written statement by Farmajo.[7]

Al Shabaab claimed to assassinate two Somali government officials in Mogadishu on May 29. Local sources stated the two victims were civilians. One of the victims of the assassination was a Qur’an school teacher who supported deradicalization. Separately, ISIS claimed the assassination of a Somali intelligence official in Bakara Market, Mogadishu on May 26.[8]

Somaliland police arrested over 40 protesters and two journalists at a demonstration in support of rejoining the Somali Federal Government in Las Anod, Sool region, northern Somalia on May 28. Somaliland and Puntland are engaged in a conflict over the disputed Sool and Sanaag regions.[9]

Kenyan authorities announced increased security in the northeastern region along the border with Somalia on May 29. Kenya increased their border security to prevent al Shabaab attacks during Ramadan. Kenyan counter-terror police arrested three suspected al Shabaab militants in Nyeri County, central region, Kenya on May 29. The arrest occurred after intelligence reports warned of an attack on Kenya Medical Training College in Nyeri town during weekend of May 25.[10]

[1] “Government forces are stationed in the Taif area south of Hodeidah,” Al Masdar, May 28, 2018,; Ahmed Al-Haj, “New bout of heavy fighting in Yemen kills dozens,” AP, May 27, 2018,; “Saudi-led coalition closes in on Yemen port city Hodeidah,” Reuters, May 28, 2018,; “Leader of the Revolution: Battle of the American coast par excellence and the Yemeni people is concerned with the defense of Tihama,” Saba News, May 28, 2018,; “Government forces are approaching more than the city of Hodeidah,” Al Masdar, May 27, 2018,; “The missile force targets the invaders and mercenary camps in the West Coast,” Saba News, May 29, 2018,; “Qaher M-2 ballistic missile levels the invaders and mercenaries on the west coast,” Saba News, May 27, 2018,; and “Breaking: Military source: The Patriot system intercepts six ballistic missiles fired by the militias towards al Khawkha district in the west coast,” Aden Tomorrow, May 29, 2018,
[2] “Iran willing to push for ceasefire in Yemen talks with European powers,” Reuters, May 29, 2018,
[3] “Aden: UAE forces release a leader in the resistance and the last apologizes to them,” Al Masdar, May 28, 2018,; “Confrontations in Aden because of slogans against the UAE,” Al Masdar, May 27, 2018,; “The STC demands security to deal strictly with anti-UAE,” Al Masdar, May 28, 2018,; “The Southern Transitional Council issues an important statement regarding what is happening in the capital Aden,” STC Aden, May 28, 2018,; and “Armor and security crews deployed in the vicinity of Caltex tour in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, May 28, 2018,
[4] “AQAP VIDEO FEATURES ROCKET ATTACK ON ELITE FORCES IN HADRAMAWT,” SITE Intel, May 28, 2018,; and “AQAP video from Hadramawt,” Twitter, May 28, 2018,
[5] AQAP ambushes al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan, May 26, 2018, Telegram.
[6] Abshir Saeed Yousuf, “African Union Forces Repulse Al-Shabaab Ambush Attack In Mogadishu,” Intelligence Briefs, May 29, 2018,
[7] Mohamed Sheikh Nor, “Somalia Leader Replaces Supreme Court Head in Judiciary Overhaul,” Bloomberg, May 28, 2018,; and Jerry Owilli, “Somalia’s President Farmajo sacks chief justice,” CGTN, May 27, 2018,
[8] ISIS militants assassinate Somali intelligence official, Telegram, May 26, 2018; Goldberg Jane Heller, “Al Shabaab Gunmen Assassinate Quran School Teacher; Security Officers Launch Manhunt,” Intelligence Briefs, May 29, 2018,; and “Civilians shot dead in Mogadishu,” Radio Kulmiye, May 29, 2018,
[9] “Somaliland arrests demonstrators, journalists covering rally in Las Anod,” Radio Shabelle, May 29, 2018,
[10] Goldberg Jane Heller, “Kenya Beefs Up Security In North Eastern Province To Avert Likely Al Shabaab Attacks During Ramadhan,” Intelligence Briefs, May 29, 2018,; Goldberg Jane Heller, “3 Al Shabaab Terrorists Arrested In Nyeri County, Kenya By Anti-Terrorism Police,” Intelligence Briefs, May 29, 2018,; and “Kenyan Police Arrest Three Al Shabaab Suspects,” Radio Shabelle, May 29, 2018,

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