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: Protesters select Aydarus al Zubaidi as leader of southern Yemen; Saudi-Emirati-Yemeni coordination committee holds first meeting; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen; Hadi government forces claim to retake Camp Omari in southwestern Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Ethiopian AMISOM base near Beledweyne, Hiraan region; Somali security forces accidentally kill Minister of Public Works in Mogadishu; Somali president announces plan to defeat al Shabaab within two years

Yemen Security Brief

Organizers of a demonstration against President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government announced that Aydarus al Zubaidi, the former governor of Aden, will lead a council to govern southern Yemen. Zubaidi will hold all powers necessary to administer and represent southern Yemen, according to a statement issued by the organizers of the protest in Aden on May 4. The announcement affirmed that al Zubaidi will continue to cooperate with the Saudi-led coalition. The Hadi government has yet to respond. President Hadi replaced Zubaidi as the governor of Aden on April 27 following reports that the UAE, which supports Zubaidi and other leading Southern Movement figures, participated in negotiations with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Russia. Two million protesters from several southern governorates demonstrated in Aden in support of Zubaidi on May 4.[1]

The Trilateral High Committee, which aims to increase coordination between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Hadi government, held its first meeting on May 4. Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar chairs the committee. The committee discussed the current security situation in Yemen and issued a statement thanking Saudi Arabia for its contributions to Yemen. President Hadi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz agreed to form the committee following a meeting on April 29.[2] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on May 3. AQAP militants clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in the al Taffa area, central al Bayda. AQAP militants also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Hamat Sarar, western al Bayda on May 3.[3]

Hadi government and popular resistance forces claimed to seize Camp Omari and the surrounding area from al Houthi-Saleh forces in southwestern Taiz governorate on May 4. Hadi government forces previously claimed to seize Camp Omari in early January, but fighting continued. Camp Omari is a strategic site on the main road that runs along Yemen’s western coast. Hadi government forces are attempting to control southwestern Taiz in order to maintain supply lines for Operational Golden Spear, an offensive that aims to seize al Hudaydah port.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants attacked an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Halgan village in Hiraan region, central Somalia, on May 4. Heavily armed militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and exchanged gunfire with AMISOM forces. Al Shabaab previously controlled Halgan but withdrew to avoid direct confrontation with nearby AMISOM forces. Ethiopian troops seized the village on May 3. Halgan is located 50 miles south of Beledweyne, the regional capital of Hiraan. Al Shabaab seized several towns after Ethiopian AMISOM forces withdrew from bases in central Somalia in recent weeks.[5] 

Somali security forces accidentally shot and killed Public Works Minister Abdullahi Sheikh Abas in Mogadishu on May 3. The security forces shot Minister Abas after mistaking him for an al Shabaab militant as he drove near the presidential palace in Mogadishu. Abas was Somalia’s youngest Member of Parliament. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo cut short an official state visit to Ethiopia to attend the state burial. Al Shabaab intensified a campaign of mass-casualty attacks and assassinations in recent months in an effort to unsettle security forces in the capital.[6] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo announced a plan to defeat al Shabaab in two years during a joint press conference from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 3. President Farmajo did not elaborate on the plan, but said that continued regional cooperation is essential for defeating the group. He made the announcement with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn during an official state visit to Ethiopia. Al Shabaab attacks against Somali and AMISOM forces in Somalia have increased since President Farmajo’s election in February 2017.[7]

[1] “Demonstration # Aden delegate Zubaidi to declare a political leadership of the South - the text of the statement,” Barakish, May 4, 2017,
[2] “Trilateral High Committee to Underpin Coordination in Restoring Hope to Yemen,” Asharq Al-Awst, May 4, 2017,; and “This is what was discussed by the Supreme Tripartite Commission between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Yemen in its meeting today!,” Aden Lang, May 4, 2017,
[3] AQAP claims attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces, Telegram, May 3 and 4, 2017.
[4] “National Army controls the Omari camp west of Taiz,” Saba News, May 4, 2017,
[5] “Al Shabaab raids AU military base in central Somalia,” Shabelle News, May 4, 2017,; and “Ethiopian troops pull out of Elbur,” Goobjoog News, April 3, 2017,
[6] “Minister Abdullahi Sheikh Abas killed in Mogadishu,” BBC News, May 4, 2017,; and “President Farmajo orders probe into killing of Minister, cuts short Ethiopia visit,” Goobjoog News, May 4, 2017,
[7] “Somalia announces plan to defeat al Shabaab,” Shabelle News, May 3, 2017,
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