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-led coalition calls on UN to manage Sana’a airport security; AQAP magazine encourages train derailments; AQAP militants blow up al Houthi-Saleh water tanker in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Yemeni House of Representatives to elect new speaker; Hadi government-aligned forces renew offensive on western Taiz city in western Yemen; militants assassinate Islah Party representative in Dhamar governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. UAV strikes target al Shabaab militants in Banadir region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab attacks former deputy leader in Bakool region, central Somalia; al Shabaab suicide bomber attacks security personnel in Mogadishu Central Prison; Kenyan electoral commission delays announcing presidential election results

Yemen Security Brief

Spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition Colonel Turki al Maliki called on the United Nations to manage airport security at Sana’a International Airport on August 10. Al Maliki stated that humanitarian aid delivery into Sana’a airport will resume in full once the UN ensures the safety of all flights and prevents arms smuggling. President Abdu Mansour Rabbu Hadi’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi, echoed the coalition’s statement. The UN, international aid organizations, and the British Ambassador to Yemen have recently pressured Saudi Arabia to reopen the airport. The Saudi-led coalition has blocked nearly all flights into the airport for over a year, contributing to mass food insecurity and a worsening cholera outbreak.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) encouraged supporters to derail trains in the West on August 11. A promotional video for AQAP’s Inspire Magazine highlights the vulnerability of railway networks and depicts metal devices that can be used to overturn trains. AQAP’s English-language Inspire Magazine, which was last published in November 2016, seeks to motivate a global audience to carry out attacks on the West.[2]

AQAP militants blew up an al Houthi-Saleh water tanker in Wald Rabia district, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on August 11. AQAP militants are fighting alongside tribal militias and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda militants against al Houthi-Saleh forces in northwestern al Bayda governorate.[3]   

President Hadi’s deputy prime minister, Abdulaziz al Jabari, announced that the Yemeni parliament will elect a new speaker of the House of Representatives during an upcoming session in Aden city. The internationally recognized parliament has not met since 2015. The Southern Movement, which seeks increased autonomy for southern Yemen, condemned the upcoming meeting as a threat to southern Yemeni rights.[4] 

Hadi government-aligned forces renewed an offensive on western Taiz city on August 11. Forces loyal to the Hadi government claimed to secure several hills and villages surrounding Mount Han in western Taiz city. Al Houthi-Saleh forces responded by firing artillery and Katyusha rockets on Hadi government positions in Mount Han and Madarat district, western Taiz city. The frontline in Taiz governorate remains stalled despite frequent Hadi government offensives.[5]    

Unidentified assailants assassinated a local Islah Party leader, Abdul Razzaq al Sarari, with an improvised explosive device (IED) in al Hadda district, Dhamar governorate, central Yemen on August 10. Al Houthi-Saleh forces control most of Dhamar governorate. AQAP operates in neighboring al Bayda governorate. Islah, the primary Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated political party in Yemen, plays a significant role in the Hadi government.[6]   

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted two unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes targeting al Shabaab militants outside of Mogadishu in Banadir region on August 10. Somali President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo stated that the strikes targeted a senior al Shabaab leader. AFRICOM confirmed the strikes but did not release additional details.[7]

Al Shabaab militants attempted to capture former deputy leader Mukhtar Robow in a raid in Abal village, Bakool region, central Somalia on August 11. The militants failed to capture Robow, who is negotiating his defection to the Somali Federal Government and receives support from Somali security forces. Al Shabaab temporarily seized Robow’s compound in Abal village on August 9.[8] 

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) targeting security officials at the entrance of a mosque in Mogadishu Central Prison. The attack targeted Custodial Corps Commander Hussein Hassan Osman, who survived. Al Shabaab also attempted to conduct a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on the Makka al Mukarama Hotel in Mogadishu. Security forces interdicted the SVBIED at a checkpoint on Makka al Mukarama Road.[9]

Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) did not announce the presidential election results as planned at 12:00 local time (05:00 EST) on August 11. Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga urged the IEBC do declare him the winner and claimed to produce evidence of his victory over incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, who leads by a significant margin of tallied votes. The Kenyan constitution grants the IEBC seven days after the election to declare a winner.[10]

[1] “Official Coalition Spokesman Asks UN to Run Sana’a International Airport,” Saudi Press Agency, August 10, 2017,; Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi, Twitter, August 10, 2017,; “The coalition calls on the United Nations to contribute to the administration of Sana’a airport, provided that the Yemeni government is concerned,” Al Masdar Online, August 10, 2017,; and WHO Yemen, Twitter, August 10, 2017,
[2] “AQAP’S INSPIRE 17 TO COVER ‘TRAIN DERAIL OPERATIONS’ TO HIT TRANSPORTATION SECTOR, WESTERN ECONOMIES,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 11, 2017, available by subscription at
[3] AQAP militants blow up al Houthi-Saleh water tanker, Telegram, August 11, 2017; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, August 11, 2017,
[4] “Jabari: the session of the Council of Representatives to be held in Aden will elect a new Presidency of the Council,” Aden Lange, August 11, 2017,; “The southern resistance issued a statement on the convening of the House of Representatives in Aden,” Aden Lange, August 11, 2017,; “Hadi will return to Aden during the next few days to open the first parliamentary sessions,” Al Masdar Online, August 2, 2017,; and “Yemeni President decides to transfer headquarters of parliament to Aden,” Saudi Press Agency, January 28, 2017,  
[5] “The intensification of confrontations west of Taiz and the slow progress of government forces amid the minefields,” Al Masdar Online, August 11, 2017,; and “The rocket and artillery force destroyed the positions of the Saudi enemy army and its mercenaries,” Sabanews, August 11, 2017,   
[6] “Leader of Islah Party in Dhamar assassinated when bomb explodes in front of his house,” Al Masdar Online, August 10, 2017,
[7] “U.S. strikes against al-Shabaab,” AFRICOM, August 10, 2017,; and “Somalia says airstrikes kill senior Al-Shabaab leader,” Xinhuanet, August 10, 2017,
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 11, 2017,
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 11, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 10, 2017,
[10] “Country on edge as final results due in disputed poll,” Daily Nation, August 11, 2017,

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