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 Arabia hosts regional summits on Iran; Islamic State in Yemen claims rocket and IED attacks against AQAP in al Bayda; Russian government approves STC office in Moscow

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims IED attacks against Somali special forces and AMISOM in Mogadishu; suspected al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan base in Lower Jubba region; AFRICOM official defines political settlement as US objective in Somalia; UN Secretary General appoints new Special Representative for Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Arabia opened two regional security summits for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League in Mecca in western Saudi Arabia on May 30. The summits will address escalating tensions with Iran. Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is attending the summits. Saudi officials at the summits repeated Saudi Arabia’s claim that Iran ordered the al Houthi drone attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure earlier in the month.[1]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to wound several al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants with a rocket in Dhi Kalib al Asfal in Qayfa area in western al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on May 28. The Islamic State also claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting AQAP militants in Dhi Kalib al Asfal on the same day.[2]

The Russian government approved the creation of an office of Yemen’s Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) in Moscow on May 30. The STC announced that it would create a Foreign Affairs office in Russia in October 2018. The STC is a UAE-backed southern secessionist group.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed to detonate an IED targeting US-trained Somali Alpha Group special forces in Weydow district in the Somali capital Mogadishu on May 29. Al Shabaab claimed to destroy an Alpha Group vehicle, killing everyone on board. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate an IED targeting a convoy of Burundian soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Mogadishu’s Heliwa district on May 30. Neither attack is confirmed.[4]

Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan AMISOM base in Afmadow town in Lower Jubba region in southwestern Somalia on May 30. Kenyan forces repulsed the attack.[5]

An official from United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM), Ambassador Alexander Laskaris, stated on May 29 that the US goal in Somalia is to weaken al Shabaab in order to achieve a political settlement for the country. Laskaris said that the US aims to slowly degrade al Shabaab to create the conditions for a political settlement between warring parties in Somalia.[6]

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed US diplomat James Swan as UN Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on May 30. Swan previously served as a US ambassador in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Djibouti and as US Special Representative for Somalia.[7]

Visit our Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Russia, and Somalia story streams.

[1] Aziz El Yaakoubi and Marwa Rashad, “Saudi Arabia gathers Arab leaders over attacks on oil assets,” Reuters, May 30, 2019,; and “President Hadi arrives in Mecca to participate in an two Arab and Islamic summits,” Yemen Shabab, May 30, 2019,

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, May 29, 2019,

[3] The Southern Transitional Council announces opening of an office in Russia,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, May 30, 2019,

[4] “Shabaab claims killing Somali Special Forces (Alpha Group) in Blast in Mogadishu, Assassination Attempt on Jubaland President,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 29, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[5] Harun Maruf, Twitter, May 30, 2019,

[6] “US only seeks to weaken Shabaab to reach political settlement,” Daily Nation, May 30, 2019,

[7] “Secretary-General appoints James Swan of the United States as Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia,” UNSOM, May 30, 2019,

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