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: Emirati forces prevent local Yemeni officials from greeting Saudi committee on Socotra Island; Hadi government forces recapture al Houthi positions in Sa’ada governorate; Sudan reiterates commitment to the Saudi-led coalition; scientists report Yemen’s rainy season to cause a surge in cholera cases

Horn of Africa: Sudan grants Ethiopia stake in Port Sudan; ISIS militants assassinate Somali police officer in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market; al Shabaab militants kill at least four quarry miners in Mandera County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati forces prevented local Yemeni political and military officials from greeting a Saudi committee that arrived at the airport on Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden on May 4, according to local sources. The Saudi committee is reportedly tasked to review Emirati military developments on the island. The UAE deployed more than 100 troops and several armored vehicles to Socotra airport and expelled Yemeni forces from the location on May 2, according to local sources.[1]

Hadi government forces backed by Saudi-led coalition air assets recaptured al Houthi positions in Baqim district, northwestern Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on May 3, according to anti-al Houthi sources. The 3rd and 5th Border Guard Brigades advanced to the outskirts of Suhar al Sham area in Baqim and seized al Houthi Zilzal 1 rockets in al Sabhan village. Hadi government forces have previously seized this territory.[2]

The commander of Sudanese forces participating in the Saudi-led coalition assured the coalition that Sudanese forces will remain in Yemen until “legitimacy is restored” on May 4. Sudan’s defense minister Ali Salem announced that Sudan was reconsidering its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on May 2. Sudan has deployed at least 3,000 troops to Yemen.[3]

Scientists warned that Yemen’s rainy season will cause a surge in cholera cases in a peer-reviewed medical journal on May 3. Yemen’s rainy season runs from mid-April to the end of August. The daily number of cholera cases increased one hundred times in the first month of the rainy season in 2017. Cholera spreads through contaminated water and food. More than one million suspected cholera cases have been reported since the start of the epidemic in 2016.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir granted Ethiopia a stake in Port Sudan in a deal on May 3. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with Bashir in Khartoum for the agreement. Port Sudan is Sudan’s largest sea gateway port. Prime Minister Ahmed recently agreed to a port deal with Djibouti that guaranteed Ethiopia access to Djibouti’s port in exchange for granting Djibouti stakes in Ethiopian state-owned firms on April 28. Ethiopia relies on Djibouti’s port for the majority of Ethiopia’s foreign commercial interests. Ethiopia also took stake in Berbera port in Somaliland in March 2018.[5] 

ISIS militants assassinated a Somali police officer in Bakara Market, Mogadishu on May 3. ISIS recently released photographs of militants assassinating a Somali intelligence officer in Bakara Market on April 25. Al Shabaab also assassinated a Somali National Army (SNA) officer in Bondhere district in the capital on May 3.[6]

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) and police repelled an al Shabaab attack targeting quarry miners in Shimbir Fatuma sub-county in Mandera County, northeastern Kenya on May 3. Al Shabaab militants killed at least four miners in the attack. KDF and police forces rescued about 150 quarry workers on May 4. Mandera County temporarily closed all quarries to protect workers from terrorist attacks from December 2015–January 2016 and has since enforced a curfew.[7]

[1] “A Saudi committee arrives in Socotra and UAE forces prevent local officials from entering the airport,” Al Masdar, May 4, 2018,; and “Government official: UAE armored vehicles headed towards an army camp in Socotra and tension foreshadows a military confrontation,” Al Masdar, May 4, 2018,
[2] “Yemeni Army frees new sites in Sa’ada and West Taiz,” Al Tagheer, May 4, 2018,; “The National Army and Resistance forces announced the control of the northern Saada positions,” Aden Lang, May 3, 2018,; “National Army forces booby-trapped a large arsenal of rockets and weapons in Saada province,” Aden Lang, May 3, 2018,; and “The Houthi sites are crumbling in their stronghold,” Aden Lang, May 3, 2018,
[3] “Sudan assessing military participation in Yemen: defense minister,” Reuters, May 2, 2018,; and “Sudan has ensured that its forces remain in Yemen until its legitimacy is achieved,” 26SepNews, May 4, 2018,
[4] “Cholera epidemic in Yemen, 2016–18: an analysis of surveillance data,” The Lancet, May 2018,; and “Yemen risks new cholera outbreak as rainy season begins,” Reuters, March 4, 2018,
[5] “Ethiopia agrees stake in Port Sudan, prisoner release on PM Abiy's Sudan trip,” Africanews, May 4, 2018,; “Ethiopia to take a stake in Sudan's main sea gateway port,” Reuters, May 3, 2018,; and “Ethiopia to Help Sudan Develop Port as It Builds Export Routes,” Bloomberg, May 3, 2018,
[6] ISIS militants assassinate Somali police officer in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market, Telegram, May 3, 2018; and Al Shabaab militants assassinate SNA officer in Bondhere district in Mogadishu, Telegram, May 3, 2018.
[7] “Three quarry workers massacred by al Shabaab in Mandera,” The Star, May 4, 2018,; “Al-Shabaab attacks quarry workers in Mandera,” Daily Nation, May 4, 2018,; “156 Quarry Workers Rescued From Al Shabaab Attack By Kenya Police-KDF Operation In El-Wak, Mandera County,” Strategic Intelligence News, May 4, 2018,

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