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 report accuses Saudi-led coalition of human rights violations against Yemeni children; al Houthi-Saleh forces arrest Yemeni activists in Sana'a city, northern Yemen; Mohammed Ali al Houthi condemns American role in Yemeni civil war; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Emirati ship in Mokha port, Taiz governorate, western Yemen; AQAP militants attack security forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh faction in Taiz, al Bayda, and Shabwah governorates

Horn of Africa: U.S. airstrikes hit al Shabaab militants in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab claims to assassinates NISA officer in Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims to attack Burundian AMISOM in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia; Turkish Airlines delivers food aid to Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

A draft copy of the UN’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict accuses the Saudi-led coalition of committing human rights violations against children in Yemen, according to Foreign Policy. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba will reportedly recommend that the Saudi-led coalition be added to a list of entities accused of killing and maiming children in wartime. The report states that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have killed 502 Yemeni children in the past year. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have reportedly pressured the UN to delay publishing the report. International organizations frequently accuse the coalition of human rights violations for blocking humanitarian aid and indiscriminately bombing al Houthi-Saleh positions in Yemen.[1]

Al Houthi-Saleh security forces arrested several Yemeni activists, journalists, and UN staff in Sana’a city on August 15. Local sources reported that al Houthi Saleh forces detained Hisham al Oimsey, Osama al Ansi, and Issam al Muhwiti and took the men to an unknown location. The three are reportedly former employees at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a. The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a suspended its operations in February 2015 following violent protests by the al Houthi movement.[2]

Mohammed Ali al Houthi, a political leader of the al Houthi movement, accused the U.S. of fueling the Yemeni civil war and obstructing attempts to reach a political resolution on August 16. Al Houthi directly criticized U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller’s recent statements, which accused the al Houthi bloc of impeding peace negotiations. Al Houthi also announced the start of a “second phase” in the war in which he seeks to inform his followers about America’s role in driving the conflict. Al Houthi authorities in Sana’a reportedly installed two statues modeled after the U.S. Statue of Liberty, with bloody teeth and carrying American-made missiles.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked an Emirati warship in Mokha port using a remote-controlled explosive boat on August 16. Saudi-led coalition forces claimed to destroy the boat before it could reach the Emirati ship. The al Houthi-Saleh faction has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Saudi-led coalition forces claimed to disrupt a nearly identical al Houthi-Saleh attack in Mokha port on August 12. The British Merchant Navy issued a notice to all commercial ships passing through the Gulf of Aden, warning that they could be attacked by remote-controlled explosive boats.[4]

AQAP militants conducted two attacks against Yemeni security forces in southern Yemen. AQAP militants attacked a water tanker belonging to the Yemeni Army’s 115th Infantry Brigade in northern Lawder city in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on August 17. Suspected AQAP militants also shelled a checkpoint controlled by al Hizam security forces in Khabr al Muraqisha area in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on August 16. Yemeni security forces, backed by U.S. and Emirati special forces, renewed counterterrorism efforts in Abyan governorate in early August. AQAP also released a statement on August 17 claiming responsibility for the assassination of Mohammed Nasser Saeed al Marmi, a relative of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the leader of his presidential protection forces. Militants killed al Marmi in Sheikh Othman district in Aden city on August 9.[5] 

Clashes intensified between al Houthi-Saleh fighters and Hadi government-aligned forces in Taiz, al Bayda, and Shabwah governorates on August 16. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a “Zilzal-2” ballistic missile at Camp Khalid ibn al Walid in western Taiz governorate, which Hadi government-aligned forces seized in late July. Hadi government forces and al Houthi-Saleh fighters also exchanged artillery fire in al Hamli area, Mawza’ district in western Taiz governorate. Popular resistance forces aligned with the Hadi government clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im district, central al Bayda governorate. AQAP militants frequently fight alongside popular resistance forces against the al Houthi-Saleh faction in al Bayda governorate. Hadi government-aligned artillery fire also killed six al Houthi-Saleh fighters in western Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen.[6] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted three precision airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on August 16 and 17. President Farmajo stated that the airstrikes killed seven al Shabaab militants, including a senior leader. This marks AFRICOM’s second airstrike operation in Somalia in eight days. AFRICOM conducted two strikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Banadir region on August 9.[7]

Al Shabaab claimed to assassinate a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officer in Waberi district, Mogadishu on August 17. Al Shabaab escalated its assassination campaign in Mogadishu after President Farmajo declared war on the group in April 2017.[8] 

Al Shabaab claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on August 17. Al Shabaab frequently attacks AMISOM forces in Mahaday in order to obstruct ground lines of communication connecting Mogadishu to north-central Somalia.[9]

Turkish airlines delivered 60 tons of food supplies to Mogadishu on August 17. The American Refugee Committee in Somalia stated the food will be distributed to 12 towns in Somalia. Somalia is on the brink of famine due to an ongoing drought. Nearly six million people in Somalia rely on humanitarian aid.[10]

[1] “Confidential UN Report Accuses Saudi Coalition of Killing Hundreds of Yemeni Kids,” August 16, 2017, Foreign Policy,; and “Saudi Coalition to Blame for Half of Yemen Child Casualties: Draft U.N Report,” The New York Times, August 17, 2017,
[2] “Al Houthi militia arrests three employees at US embassy in Sana’a,” Aden Lange, August 16, 2017,; and “Al Houthi militia launches arrests of UN staff in Sana’a,” Barakish, August 16, 2017,      
[3] “Revolutionary Supreme Leader announces the second phase of the US campaign to kill the Yemeni people,” Sabanews, August 16, 2017,; and “He said that the conflict continued to long… U.S. Ambassador to Yemen: we will give room for ‘moderate voices,’” Al Masdar Online, July 30, 2017,
[4] “For the third time in a row… al Houthis target the port of Mokha with a boob-trapped boat,” Aden Tomorrow, August 16, 2017,; “Explosive boat attack foiled targeting UAE ship,” Al Arabiya, August 16, 2017,; “Yemen’s Houthis target coalition warship, agency reports,” Reuters, August 12, 2017,; and “Britain warns of attacks on commercial ships off Yemen by booby-trapped boats,” Barakish, August 17, 2017,  
[5] “Al Qaeda-linked militants set fire to a water tanker belonging to the 115th Infantry Brigade in northern Abyan,” Barakish, August 17, 2017,; “Gunmen fired a rocket at the checkpoint of Commander al Kudba in the security zone of Khabr al Muraqisha, which was believed to be al Qaeda,” Aden Tomorrow, August 16, 2017,; AQAP claims responsibility for assassinating Mohammed Nasser Saeed al Marmi, Telegram, August 17, 2017; and AQAP destroys a military vehicle belonging to the 115th Infantry Brigade in northern Lawder city, Telegram, August 17, 2017.      
[6] “Renewed fighting between the al Houthis and government forces in Taiz, al Bayda, and Shabwah governorates,” Al Masdar Online, August 16, 2017,; “‘Zilzal-2’ heads toward a gathering of invaders and mercenaries west of Camp Khalid in Taiz,” Sabanews, August 16, 2017,
[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 17, 2017,; AFRICOM, Twitter, August 17, 2017,
[8] Al Shabaab claims to assassinate Intelligence official in Mogadishu, Telegram, August 17, 2017.
[9] Al Shabaab claims to detonate IED targeting AMISOM in Mahaday, Telegram, August 17, 2017
[10] Mohammed Dhaysan, “Turkish Airlines bring 60 tons of food aid to Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, August 17, 2017,

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