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 and al Houthi-Saleh officials participate in ceasefire negotiations in Oman; Abdul Malik al Houthi calls for jihad against Saudi Arabia and U.S. in Ramadan speech; UN Special Envoy to Yemen addresses the UN Security Council; AQAP releases lecture from deceased cleric; demonstrators burn official’s car to protest power outages in Aden; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants clash with Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in Mogadishu; al Shabaab detonates IEDs throughout southern Somalia; Kenyan police ambush al Shabaab militants in Tana River County, Kenya; al Shabaab releases video of Kolbio raid

Yemen Security Brief

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi, traveled to Muscat, Oman on May 29 to negotiate with representatives from the al Houthi-Saleh bloc. U.S., EU, and UN representatives are reportedly participating in the negotiations, according to Turkish state media. British and American officials hosted a separate planning meeting with Yemeni military officials in Amman, Jordan, on May 29 focused on plans to disarm the al Houthi-Saleh bloc and set conditions for a lasting peace. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed failed to establish terms for a ceasefire during his May 23 visit to Sana’a.[1] 

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi released a video on May 29 commemorating the start of Ramadan. Al Houthi called for jihad against Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and their “clients.”[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed spoke before the UN Security Council on May 30. Ould Cheikh Ahmed acknowledged that he is not close to a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict. He expressed frustration with the refusal of the al Houthi Ansar Allah party and the General People’s Congress party to meet with him in Sana’a on May 23.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the ninth edition of its With the Quran series featuring a lecture from deceased AQAP scholar Harith Bin Ghazi al Nadhari, dated February 2014. Al Nadhari pledges that AQAP will continue to fight against al Houthi-Saleh forces. A U.S. airstrike killed al Nadhari, who has appeared in several AQAP propaganda videos, in January 2015. AQAP also released a nasheed (chant) praising Jaysh al Usra, al Shabaab’s offensive military wing, on May 26 and a Ramadan message from AQAP judge Abu Bashar Muhammad Derma on May 30.[4]

Demonstrators in Aden set fire to the car of the Aden Electricity Director on May 30 to protest ongoing electricity outages. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir authorized an investigation into the attack. The Hadi government opened a new power plant in Aden on May 27 after months of outages, but electricity has not returned.[5]

AQAP clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Madahi, al Sawm’aa district, southern al Bayda governorate on May 30 and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) that killed five al Houthi-Saleh troops in nearby Madhawqain, southern al Bayda, on May 29. AQAP militants also attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces with small arms fire in Hammat Sarar, northwestern al Bayda on May 26.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants clashed with Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in Wadajir district, Mogadishu, Somalia on May 30. SNA troops attempted to disarm al Shabaab militants who established an illegal checkpoint in Hawo Tako area, Wadajir district. SNA soldiers also responded to an al Shabaab attack at Bakara Market in Hawl Wadag district, Mogadishu on May 29. SNA forces shot an al Shabaab militant who killed a civilian in the market. The clashes killed two civilians. The SNA increased its security operations in the capital in order to prepare for al Shabaab attacks during Ramadan.[7]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Marka, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on May 29.  AMISOM forces secured the site after the attack but did not arrest an attacker. The attack marks the third IED attack in southern Somalia in two days. Al Shabaab detonated an IED in Mahday district, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on May 27, killing two civilians and injuring five others. The group also detonated an IED at a military checkpoint in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, but caused no casualties.[8] 

Kenyan police ambushed al Shabaab militants in Tana River town, eastern Kenya on May 29. Police killed three al Shabaab militants who were reportedly planning attacks in Kenya during the month of Ramadan. They also seized rifles and ammunition. Al Shabaab intensified operations in Kenya in recent weeks to drive voter demand for a military withdrawal from Somalia. Kenya will hold general elections in August.[9]

Al Shabaab released a 55-minute long video on its January 2017 raid on a Kenyan military base in Kolbio, southern Somalia. The video, titled “They Are Not Welcome (They Shall Burn in Fire-Defending Muslim Lands),” praises al Shabaab’s attacks targeting Kenyan soldiers. The video blames Kenya for transgressions against Muslims on Muslims lands, citing attacks in Garissa and the 1984 Wagalla Massacre. The video also calls for further attacks on Kenyan churches and economic interests. Al Shabaab’s al Kata’ib Media Foundation produced and disseminated the video through the Global Islamic Media Front on May 30. Al Kata’ib distributed a preview for the video on May 28. Al Shabaab released one other propaganda video targeting Kenyan voters this month.[10]

[1] “Negotiations taking place in secrecy between the government and the coup in Oman,” Aden Tomorrow, May 29, 2017,; “Mikhlafi meets Foreign Minister of Sultanate of Oman,” Sabanew, May 29, 2017,; “Foreign Minister arrives in Muscat on official visit,” Aden Tomorrow, May 29, 2017,; and “U.S., EU, and Yemeni officials discuss the Yemeni crisis in Amman,” Aden Lange, May 29, 2017,
[2] “The second lecture of Mr. Abdul Malik Badr al Din al Houthi, entitled ‘Fountain of Faith,’ on Ramadan 1438,” al Masirah, May 29, 2017,
[3] “Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen) 0 Security Council, 7954th meeting,” UN Web TV, May 39, 2017,
[4] AQAP’s al Malahem distributes With the Quran’s Company 9 on social media, Telegram, May 28, 2017.
[5] “Bin Daghir directs Aden Security to investigate the burning of Electricity Director’s car and demands the uncovering of the perpetrators,” Aden Tomorrow, May 30, 2017,; and “Prime Minister to discuss practical measures to cover electricity deficit in the temporary capital,” May 27, 2017,
[6] AQAP claims attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, May 27-30, 2017.
[7] “Somali Govt clash Gunmen in Mogadishu, two injured,” Shabelle News, May 30, 2017,; and Ahmed Mohamed: “Somali security forces kill armed man who shot a civilian in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, May 30, 2017,
[8] “AMISOM convoy targeted in IED blast near Marka city,” Shabelle News, May 29, 2017,; and “Two dead in deadly blast in Southern Somalia,” Shabelle News, May 30, 2017,
[9] “Kenyan police gun down three Al-Shabaab suspects,” Shabelle News, May 30, 2017,
[10] “Shabaab Releases Video on January 2017 Raid on Kenyan Military Base in Kulbiyow,” SITE, May 30, 2017, available by subscription at

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