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: UN Envoy urges Iran to facilitate negotiations with the al Houthi-Saleh faction; Emirati-backed soldiers clash with Islah party supporters in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen; Yemeni parliament nominates new speaker during meeting with Saudi officials in Jeddah; AQAP shells al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga to contest election results in Supreme Court; UAV crashes outside of Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims assassination of HirShabelle Administration official; al Shabaab attacks Kenyan police convoy in Garissa town, eastern Kenya; Puntland announces support for Saudi Arabia and UAE in diplomatic rift with Qatar

Yemen Security Brief

The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that Iran is willing to act as a mediator between the al Houthi-Saleh faction and the UN on August 15. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Iranian officials in Tehran on August 12. The al Houthi-Saleh faction refuses to engage in any negotiations brokered by the current UN envoy, whom the faction designated a persona non grata in early June for alleged bias toward the Saudi-led coalition. The al Houthi-Saleh bloc has refused to engage in Chinese-mediated negotiations with Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The Saudi-led coalition continues to reject any UN-led mediation involving Iran.[1]

Emirati-backed southern Yemeni forces reportedly clashed with fighters loyal to the Qatari-backed Islah (Reform) party in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on August 15. The Islah party is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. An Islah party leader and parliamentarian, Ja’bil Taiman, called for dialogue with the al Houthi-Saleh faction on August 11. Al Houthi political leader Mohammed Ali al Houthi praised the Islah party’s call for dialogue and expressed openness to negotiations. Local sources reported that fighters loyal to the Islah party defected from the Yemeni army on August 11 following an agreement between Islah and the al Houthi-Saleh faction.[2]

Yemeni parliamentarians nominated Yemeni Ambassador to Jordan Ali Ahmed al Amrani for speaker of the House of Representatives during a meeting with Saudi officials in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 15. The Yemeni parliament announced on August 11 that it will elect a new speaker during an upcoming session in Aden city. The parliamentarians also called on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to support the internationally recognized Yemeni government’s effort to restart parliamentary sessions in Aden. Yemen’s internationally recognized parliament has not met since 2015. The al Houthi-Saleh faction formed a rival parliament in Sana’a in August 2016.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in Jamajim area, al Bayda governorate on August 15. AQAP militants last targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Jamajim area on July 23. AQAP frequently cooperates with local tribal militias against the al Houthi-Saleh faction in al Bayda governorate.[4] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga announced that he will challenge the results of the August 8 elections in the Supreme Court in a press conference on August 16. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Raila Odinga by a wide margin. Odinga accused Kenya’s electoral commission of inflating Kenyatta’s tally. International observers from the U.S., European Union, and African Union verified the election results. Odinga insisted his decision to challenge the results stems from President Kenyatta’s attempt to dismantle two rights organizations in Kenya.[5]

A reported unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed in Daynile district in Mogadishu on August 16. Somali security forces recovered the wreckage of the drone, which local sources claimed was American. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab outside of Mogadishu on August 10.[6]

Al Shabaab claimed to assassinate a HirShabelle Administration official in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on August 16. Al Shabaab conducts an assassination campaign throughout Somalia in an attempt to destabilize the Somali government.[7] 

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan police convoy in Garissa town, Garissa County, eastern Kenya on August 15. Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) before ambushing the convoy. This attack is al Shabaab’s first in Kenya since the country’s presidential election on August 8.[8]

The semi-autonomous Puntland Administration announced its support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the diplomatic rift with Qatar on August 16. The Puntland Administration also urged the Somali Federal Government to reconsiders its neutrality on the rift. Puntland Administration officials did not state if they plan to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar. Puntland maintains low-level diplomatic relations with a small number of countries, including Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and several East African countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in early June.[9]

[1] “Cheikh: Iran will urge the Houthis to cooperate with the United Nations,” Al Masdar Online, August 15, 2017,; “Yemeni officials: Houthi group blocked Chinese mediation to reconnect Ould Cheikh,” Al Masdar Online, August 12, 2017,; and “Official Source: The Kingdom has not requested any mediation with Republic of Iran,” Saudi Press Agency, August 16, 2017,
[2] “URGENT: One dead and four injured in clashes between southern soldiers and others affiliated with the Islah party in Ma’rib,” Aden Tomorrow, August 16, 2017,; “Prominent Islah leader calls for dialogue with the al Houthi group,” Aden Tomorrow, August 11, 2017,; “The head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee welcomes the positive statements of some leaders of the Islah party calling for dialogue,” Al Masirah, August 11, 2017,; and “Allegations: Fighters of the Islah Party leave the fronts and declare their support for the Houthi group,” Aden Tomorrow, August 11, 2017,
[3] “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets members of the Yemeni parliament in Jeddah,” Al Masdar Online, August 15, 2017,; “Yemeni parliamentarians nominate MP al Amrani as speaker of the parliament in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, August 16, 2017,; and “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,
[4] AQAP launches mortars at al Houthis in Jamajim area, Telegram, August 15, 2016; and AQAP shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, July 23, 2017.
[5] Harry Misiko and Samuel Owino, “See you in court, Raila Odinga tells Uhuru Kenyatta,” Daily Nation, August 16, 2017,
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 16, 2017,; and Garowe Online, Twitter, August 16, .
[7] Al Shabaab claims to assassinate Hirshabelle Official, Telegram, August 16, 2017.
[8] “Suspected al-Shabab attack kills 5 policemen in Kenya’s east,” Goobjoog News, August 15, 2017,
[9] Garowe Online, Twitter, August 16, 2017,

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