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: President Hadi to hold parliamentary meeting in Aden city, southern Yemen; suspected Salafi militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Aden city; Kuwait denies Iranian weapons smuggling in Kuwaiti waters; AQAP militants attack Yemeni security forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition blocks fuel to UN aid planes in Sana’a city, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: China opens first overseas military base in Djibouti; al Shabaab opens fire on motorists in Witu, Lamu County, eastern Kenya; Somali security forces detain al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi will return to Aden city to open the first session of parliament for the internationally recognized Yemeni government since 2015. The al Houthi-Saleh bloc formed a rival parliament in Sana’a in August 2016. Several Yemeni parliamentarians arrived in Aden city on August 2 in preparation for the session. Southern Movement leaders condemned the upcoming meeting as an attempt by the Hadi government to reduce southern Yemeni autonomy.[1]

Suspected Salafi militants attacked a police station used by Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Sheikh Othman district in Aden city on August 2. Local sources reported that the Salafi Louay Zamki Bab al Mandab militia conducted the attack to free several detained militants, but the militia denied involvement. Emirati-backed security forces deployed additional units to quell the clashes. Sudan, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, will deploy additional troops to Aden, where armed gunmen frequently attack government and security targets. Southern Yemeni leaders frequently criticize the Hadi government for failing to provide adequate security in southern Yemen.[2]

A spokesman for the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry denied recent reports that Iran is using Kuwaiti waters to smuggle arms shipments to the al Houthi-Saleh bloc in Yemen on August 2. The spokesman claimed that Kuwait’s territorial waters are under full the control of the Kuwaiti navy and coast guard. Reuters reported on August 1 that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) transfers weapons components and cash to small boats in Kuwaiti waters in order to bypass the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade on Yemen.[3]

ِAl Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Yemeni security forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on August 2. AQAP militants killed and wounded five Yemeni soldiers in Shaqra city in southern Abyan governorate and blew up an Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces police station near Sinaj village in al Mahfid district in northeastern Abyan governorate. AQAP increased its attack tempo in Abyan governorate after the Hadi government deployed additional counterterrorism units to the area.[4]  

The Saudi-led coalition is preventing UN humanitarian aid planes from refueling in Sana’a city. A UN official stated that UN aid planes are not able to obtain jet fuel in Sana’a to complete their return flights to Jordan and Djibouti. The Saudi-led coalition, which controls Yemen’s airspace, is preventing the UN from delivering fuel from Aden to Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition is frequently accused of blocking aid shipments to Yemen, which faces one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

China officially opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti on August 1. The Chinese military will base approximately 10,000 troops in Djibouti until 2026. China claims that the base will be used for logistics and counter-piracy operations. China began construction of the base in April 2016 and deployed troops to man it in July 2017. The U.S., France, Italy, and Japan also have military bases in Djibouti.[6]

Al Shabaab militants opened fire on a bus and security vehicle in Witu town, Lamu County, eastern Kenya on August 2. Al Shabaab attacked the vehicles along a major highway connecting Lamu and Tana River Counties. Al Shabaab killed three civilian motorcyclists riding in the vicinity of the attack. Al Shabaab conducts attacks in eastern Kenya in an effort to incite public backlash against Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.[7]

Somali security forces conducted several raids targeting al Shabaab militants in multiple villages near Bulo Marer, Lower Shabelle region on July 31. Security forces conducted the raids after an al Shabaab attack on a Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Bulo Marer on July 30. AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) troops detained 48 suspected militants.[8]

Al Shabaab militants shelled an AMISOM base in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on August 2. AMISOM forces conducted a search operation targeting al Shabaab in Qoryooley in response to the attack. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an AMISOM convoy in Wanlaweyne, Lower Shabelle region on August 2.[9]

[1] “Hadi will return to Aden during the next few days to open the first parliamentary sessions,” Al Masdar Online, August 2, 2017,; “The South refuses a meeting of the Yemeni parliament to be held in Aden and threatens escalation,” Aden Lange, August 2, 2017,; and “Yemeni President decides to transfer headquarters of parliament to Aden,” Saudi Press Agency, January 28, 2017,
[2] “Clashes between security personnel and gunmen attacked a police station in Aden,” Al Masdar Online, August 2, 2017,; “URGENT: Escalation of clashes between the security belt and the leader Louay Zamki in Sheikh Othman,” Aden Lange, August 2, 2017,; “Leader of the al Zamki: I have no connection to the clashes in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, August 2, 2017,; “URGENT: Arab coalition planes fly over northern Aden districts,” Aden Lange, August 2, 2017,; “Expected arrival of Sudanese troops to Aden, Barakish, August 2, 2017,; and “Southern politician Lufti Shatara,” Aden Tomorrow, August 2, 2017,
[3] “Kuwait denies using Iran’s territorial waters to transfer weapons to al Houthi militants,” Al Masdar Online, August 2, 2017,; and “Kuwait denies its waters used for Iran supplies to Houthis,” Reuters, August 2, 2017,
[4] AQAP militants attack Yemeni security forces in Abyan governorate, Telegram, August 2, 2017; and AQAP militants blow up a police station in Abyan governorate, Telegram, August 2, 2017.
[5] “Saudi coalition blocks fuel for UN aid planes to Yemen,” Al Jazeera, August 1, 2017,; and “UN official accuses Arab alliance and Yemeni government of obstructing aid to Sana’a,” Al Masdar Online, August 2, 2017,
[6] “China opens first overseas base in Djibouti,” Goobjoog, August 2, 2017,
[7] “‘Al-Shaabab’ kills 3 in Lamu attack,” Shabelle News, August 2, 2017,
[8] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “48 Al-Shabaab Suspects Rounded-Up In An Operation Conducted In Lower Shabelle Region,” Intelligence Briefs, July 31, 2017,
[9] “Al shabaab fires mortars at AMISOM base in Qoryoley town,” Shabelle News, August 2, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims to detonate IED targeting AMISOM in Wanlaweyn, Telegram, August 2, 2017.

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