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: Mohammed Ali al Houthi calls for demonstrations on anniversary of GPC founding; Saleh urges Russian Charge d’Affaires to appoint new UN Envoy; AQAP threatens to kill al Houthi captives and warns Yemenis not to work with UAE; UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator condemns Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh faction for restricting aid; Hadi government forces advance in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen; Saudi troops deploy to Aden city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants behead civilians in Maleli village, Lamu County, eastern Kenya; one million South Sudanese refugees flee to Uganda; al Shabaab assassinates head of Somali Football Referees organization in Mogadishu; Swedish soldiers join counter-piracy operation in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Mohammed Ali al Houthi, a political leader of the al Houthi movement, called on his followers to gather on August 24 to celebrate the al Houthis’ revolution against President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government on September 21, 2014. Al Houthi called on his followers to organize sit-ins at various entrance points into Sana’a city. The pro-al Houthi demonstrations coincide with rallies marking the 35th anniversary of the General People’s Congress party, founded by former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.[1]

Former president Saleh urged Russia’s Charge d'Affaires to Yemen, Andrey Chernovol, to appoint former UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi as the new UN Special Envoy for Yemen during a meeting in Sana’a city on August 17. Saleh also urged Chernovol to adopt a resolution in the UN Security Council’s meeting on August 18 condemning the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen. Southern Yemeni sources reported on August 14 that the UN will not renew UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s term in September, citing diplomatic sources.[2]

ِAl Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants threatened the al Houthi-Saleh faction and urged southern Yemenis to remain resilient in the face of Emirati- and American-backed counterterrorism operations in Abyan governorate. AQAP released four pictures of al Houthi prisoners on August 18 and warned the al Houthi-Saleh faction not to execute its AQAP captives. The al Houthi-Saleh criminal court sentenced multiple AQAP prisoners to death on August 15. AQAP also warned Abyani tribes that it will attack Yemenis that cooperate with Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate.[3]

The UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned both the Hadi government and the al Houthi-Saleh faction for preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. McGoldrick specifically criticized local militias in Taiz governorate, who have looted several humanitarian aid shipments in areas controlled by the Hadi government since January 2017.[4]

Forces loyal to the Hadi government, supported by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, renewed an offensive in northern Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on August 17. Hadi government-aligned forces seized strategic highlands and cut al Houthi-Saleh supply lines near Baqim district in northern Sa’ada governorate. Major General Amin al Waeli, commander of the Yemeni government’s northwestern forces, announced an effort to surround Sa’ada governorate with 12 military brigades on July 26. Hadi government-aligned forces seek to seize Sa’ada as part of shaping operations to surround Sana’a city.[5] 

Saudi forces arrived in Aden city to secure the governorate’s airport, seaport, and energy infrastructure on August 18. The Saudi soldiers will also provide protection for upcoming visits by President Hadi and the Yemeni parliament. Rogue security officers, local militias, and AQAP militants frequently clash with security forces in Aden governorate. Coalition-backed security forces also compete for influence in Aden.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants beheaded three civilians and burned several houses during a raid on Maleli village near Witu town, Lamu County, eastern Kenya on August 18. The group claimed to kill five Christians in the attack. Al Shabaab beheaded nine Christians in Jima village, Lamu County in July. Al Shabaab imposes costs on the Kenyan state in an effort to coerce it to end its military intervention in Somalia.[7]

The UN Refugee Agency stated on August 17 that over one million South Sudanese civilians have fled to Uganda to escape armed conflict, hunger, and sexual violence. Nearly 1,800 South Sudanese refugees cross into Uganda every day. South Sudan is experiencing Africa’s largest displacement crisis.[8]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated the head of the Somali Football Referees organization at a mosque in Mogadishu on August 17. Al Shabaab conducts an assassination campaign throughout Somalia to destabilize the Somali government and undermine security operations.[9]

Sweden deployed 34 soldiers to Somalia to participate in counter-piracy operations with the Royal Netherlands Navy on August 17. The Swedish troops will serve on the Dutch HNLMS Rotterdam, an amphibious warship.[10]

[1] Mohammed Ali al Houthi, Facebook, August 17, 2017,; and “‘Houthi rallying his supporters to close the entrances of the capital in conjunction with the celebration of Saleh’s party,” Al Masdar Online, August 18, 2017,
[2] Ali Abdullah Saleh, Facebook, August 17, 2017,; and “The United Nations: Ould Cheikh to be the last UN Envoy to Yemen,” Barakish, August 14, 2017,  
[3] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, August 18, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, August 18, 2017,; AQAP releases statement and pictures of four al Houthi captives, Telegram, August 17, 2017; AQAP issues statement advising southern Yemenis in Abyan governorate, Telegram, August 18, 2017; and “Al Amana’s death penalty is a punishment for a member of the Sana’a cell,” Sabanews, August 15, 2017,
[4] “Statement by the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Mr. Jamie McGoldrick on Shrinking Humanitarian Space in Yemen,” Relief Web, August 17, 2017,; and “Official Coalition Spokesman Asks UN to Run Sana’a International Airport,” Saudi Press Agency, August 10, 2017,
[5] “Government forces are making military gains in Baqam district, north of Sa’ada governorate,” Al Masdar Online, August 17, 2017,; and “A military official says the army has surrounded Sa’ada and that 12 brigades are ready to liberate the province,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,  
[6] “URGENT: Full-scale Saudi forces arrive in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, August 18, 2017,; “Details of the plan of deployment of Saudi military forces in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, August 18, 2017,; and “Boiling tensions: Yemen’s pro-coalition forces fight for Aden airport,” The New Arab, February 13, 2017,
[7] “Al-Shabaab: Islamist terrorists behead three people in Kenya attack,” Goobjoog News, August 18, 2017,; and Gulf of Aden Security Review, AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 10, 2017,
[8] Nick Cummings-Bruce, “Over One Million South Sudanese Flee From Violence to Uganda,” The New York Times, August 17, 2017,
[9] Hussein Mohamed, Twitter, August 17, 2017,
[10] “Swedish soldiers to fend off pirates near Somalia,” The Local, August 17, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Sep '17
Aug '17
Jul '17