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 accuses UAE of landing separatist forces in Socotra; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrike in northern Dhaleh governorate; al Islah-aligned forces raid homes of Abu Abbas Brigade members in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: U.S. and Kenya hold inaugural Bilateral Strategic Dialogue; Kenyan court sentences al Shabaab-linked UK citizen on terrorism-related charges; Eritrea and China pledge to boost cooperation

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government accused the UAE on May 8 of transporting 100 al Hizam Security Force troops to the Yemeni island of Socotra the day prior. Hadi’s Minister of the Interior Ahmed al Maysiri criticized the Emirati government for supporting southern secessionists rather than focusing on combating the al Houthi movement. Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash denied that the UAE is attempting to take control of Socotra.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes targeting al Houthi forces near Shakhab west of Qatabah city in northern Dhaleh governorate in central Yemen on May 9. Al Houthi and Hadi government-aligned forces are fighting for control of Qatabah district.[2]

Forces aligned with the al Islah, a Yemeni Islamist party, raided the home of Abu Abbas Brigade Head of Operations Muhamad Najib in Taiz city in south-central Yemen on May 8. Commander of the Abu Abbas Brigade Adel Abdu Farea, AKA Abu Abbas, accused al Islahi militias of raiding the homes of other Abu Abbas Brigade members as well. Abu Abbas Brigade forces withdrew from Taiz city on April 25 following clashes with al Islah-aligned forces.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The U.S. and Kenyan governments held the inaugural U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC, on May 7 and May 8. The two countries agreed to deepen economic ties and enhance counterterrorism, defense, and maritime surveillance cooperation while continuing to degrade al Shabaab. U.S. President Donald Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta established the dialogue at a White House summit in August 2018, during which they elevated the U.S.-Kenya relationship to a Strategic Partnership.[4]

A Kenyan court sentenced UK citizen Jermaine Grant to four years in prison on terrorism-related charges on May 9. Kenyan police arrested Grant in Mombasa, a southeastern Kenyan city, in 2011. Grant is already serving a nine-year sentence for trying to obtain a Kenyan ID and other documents illegally. Kenyan prosecutors allege that Grant is linked to al Shabaab as well as UK citizen Samantha Lewthwaite, the wife of one of the suicide bombers in the July 7, 2005, London bombings.[5]

Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pledged to boost cooperation between their countries during a meeting in Beijing on May 6.[6]

[1] “Yemen government accuses UAE of landing separatists on remote island,” Reuters, May 9, 2019,; Anwar Gargash, Twitter, May 8, 2019,; and “The United Arab Emirates is responding to the Yemeni government regarding sending separatist soldiers to Socotra,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, May 9, 2019,

[2] “Coalition fighters strike the militias in Qatabah,” Aden Lng, May 9, 2019,

[3] “The Popular gatherings militiamen raided the house of a leader of the Abu Abbas Brigades,” Aden Lng, May 9, 2019,; and “The Abu Abbas Brigades accuse the Islah militias of violating the sanctity of homes in the old city of Taiz,” Aden Time, May 9, 2019,

[4] “Press Releases: Joint Statement on the Inaugural U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue,” U.S. Department of State, May 8, 2019,; and “Kenya and US make joint pledge to ‘degrage’ Al-Shabaab,” Daily Nation, May 9, 2019,

[5] “Jermaine Grant gets 4 years in jail,” Daily Nation, May 9, 2019,; “Briton Jermain Grant sentenced to 4 more years in terror case,” Capital FM, May 9, 2019,; and “Briton Jermain Grant found guilty in Kenya of possessing bomb-making materials,” Associate Press, April 24, 2019,

[6] “Eritrea, China commit to building mutually beneficial relations,” Africa News, May 8, 2019,; and Yemane G. Meskel, Twitter, May 9, 2019,

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