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: Tensions rise between Saleh loyalists and al Houthi movement; reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants in northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda crucifies al Houthi-Saleh commander in al Bayda governorate; tribal fighters and security forces clash in Aden city, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali security forces capture Barire town from al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; Kenyan NASA party files petition to challenge election results; militants murder election official in Siaya County, western Kenya; al Shabaab temporarily seizes Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia; KDF escalates bombing campaign against al Shabaab in Boni Forest, Lamu County, eastern Kenya; Kenyan police kill al Shabaab’s logistics leader in Mombasa, eastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Tensions are rising between former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the al Houthi movement. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi accused Saleh of making treasonous deals with the Saudi-led coalition during a speech on August 19. He also accused Saleh loyalists of shirking their responsibilities on the frontline. Saleh denied the accusations and criticized the al Houthi movement for dominating government structures and failing to distribute salaries to civil servants during a broadcast on August 20. Al Houthi loyalists destroyed posters of Saleh in Sana’a city. Saleh’s supporters responded by defacing al Houthi movement posters on August 20. Saleh met with representatives of his General People’s Congress (GPC) party and the Supreme Political Council, the al Houthi-Saleh joint governing structure, on August 21 in an attempt to reinforce his partnership with the al Houthis. Saleh also discussed means to ensure the safety of the GPC’s 35th anniversary celebration in Sana’a city on August 24. Al Houthi movement leaders will hold a simultaneous demonstration against the Saudi-led coalition.[1]

Reported U.S. airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yakal area, northwestern al Bayda governorate on August 19. Reported U.S. warplanes and helicopters conducted four airstrikes on four AQAP vehicles in Yakal area, according to local media sources. A U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) ground raid on an AQAP headquarters in Yakal area in January 2017 resulted in the death of one U.S. service member.[2] 

ISIS Wilayat al Bayda crucified an al Houthi-Saleh commander near Laqah village, northwestern al Bayda governorate on August 21. The execution followed a reported al Houthi-Saleh attack near Laqah.  AQAP, the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda, and local tribal militias are fighting al Houthi-Saleh forces on multiple fronts in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Zaharah area on August 17 and in Dhi Na’im district on August 18. AQAP also claimed to fight alongside local tribal militias on several fronts against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qayfa area on August 20. AQAP claimed to kill 25 al Houthi-Saleh fighters and a local commander in these attacks, which were most intense in Nawfan area, northwestern al Bayda. AQAP and ISIS cooperate with local tribal militias to present themselves as the protectors of Yemen’s Sunni population against the Shia al Houthi movement.[3]

Clashes between forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government intensified in Aden city on August 19. Protesting tribal forces clashed with Aden security forces during demonstrations demanding the arrest of those responsible for killing the director of security of Rasad district, Abyan governorate on August 14. Aden security officials announced that they had arrested everyone responsible for the attack on August 19. Yemeni security forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition Black Hawk helicopters, deployed to Aden city on August 19 to quell these clashes ahead of upcoming parliamentary sessions. Saudi forces deployed to Aden city on August 18 to secure the governorate’s port, airport, and presidential palace. Rogue security forces, militants, and AQAP fighters frequently clash in Aden.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces captured Barire town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia after forcing al Shabaab militants to retreat on August 19. SNA and AMISOM forces constructed a base in Barire shortly after the raid in an attempt to permanently re-establish Somali Federal Government control of the town. SNA and AMISOM forces are established temporary administrations in recaptured towns throughout Lower Shabelle region until the Somali government deploys administrators to the region. SNA and AMISOM offer education, health benefits, and financial assistance to local informants who disclose the locations of al Shabaab hideouts.[5]

Kenya’s National Super Alliance (NASA) party officials filed a petition at the Supreme Court on August 18 challenging the results of Kenya’s presidential elections. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta defeated NASA’s Raila Odinga in the election on August 8. International observers from the U.S., European Union and African Union verified the election’s results.[6]

Unidentified attackers murdered a Kenyan election official in Sega town, Siaya County, western Kenya on August 19. Preliminary autopsy reports indicate that Caroline Odinga, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) deputy presiding officer, was sexually assaulted before her death. Caroline Odinga has no familial relation to NASA party presidential candidate Raila Odinga. This marks the second murder of an electoral official in western Kenya in three weeks. Unidentified assailants tortured and murdered IEBC IT Manager Chris Msando on July 31.[7]

Al Shabaab temporarily seized Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia after clashing with SNA and Burundian AMISOM troops on August 21. Al Shabaab’s brief seizure of Mahaday marks the group’s eighth attack in the town in two weeks.[8]

The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) resumed Operation Linda Boni, escalating its aerial bombardment of al Shabaab strongholds in Boni Forest, Lamu County, eastern Kenya on August 21. The Kenyan government launched Operation Linda Boni in September 2015 in an attempt to reclaim the Boni Forest from al Shabaab. The Kenyan government slowed its bombing campaign in the months leading up to the country’s August 8 presidential elections.[9]  

Kenyan police killed al Shabaab’s Kenyan Head of Logistics, Hussein Said Omar (Babley), during a raid on his hideout in Bamburi, Mombasa, eastern Kenya on August 18. Omar commanded al Shabaab forces in Boni Forest, Lamu County until 2015, when he went into hiding. Omar, one of Kenya’s most wanted terrorists, masterminded attacks in Mpeketoni, Lamu County in June 2014 that killed at least 48 civilians.[10]

[1] “Tensions rise within Yemen’s rebel alliance,” Associated Press, August 20, 2017,; Ali Abdullah Saleh, Facebook, August 20, 2017,; “Saleh accuses the Houthis of looting salaries and says there are resources to ensure their delivery to employees,” Al Masdar Online, August 21, 2017,; “Al Houthi attacks his ally Saleh and accuses him of neglecting his warriors,” Al Masdar Online August 19, 2017,; “Al Houthis accused of shredding giant posters of the former president in the 70th square in Sana’a,” Al Masdar Online, August 20, 2017;; Ali Abdullah Saleh, Facebook, August 21, 2017,; and “Abdul Malik Badr al Din al Houthi’s speech on the meeting of Yemen's dignitaries,” Al Masirah, August 19, 2017,      
[2] “Fighters likely to be American bombed the presumed positions of al Qaeda in Yakal, al Bayda governorate,” Al Masdar Online, August 19, 2017,; and “America continues its air war against al Qaeda in Yemen,” Aden Lange, August 20, 2017,     
[3] AQAP claims to kill four al Houthi fighters in al Zaharah, Telegram, August 19, 2017; AQAP claims to kill an al Houthi fighter in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, August 19, 2017; AQAP claims to kill al Houthi leader in Qayfa district, Telegram, August 19, 2017; AQAP claims multiple attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qayfa district, al Bayda governorate, Telegram, August 19, 2017; AQAP claims to kill 25 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Qayfa district, Telegram, August 20, 2017; Demolinari, Twitter, August 21, 2017,; and Maher Farrukh, Twitter, August 21, 2017,
[4] “Clashes between gunmen and security forces in Khor Maksar district in Aden and the warplanes are flying,” Al Masdar Online, August 19, 2017,; “Munir al Yafi’i Commander of the First Brigade sends support,” Aden Tomorrow, August 19, 2017,; “Saudi forces deployed in Yemen’s port of Aden amid friction,” Associated Press, August 18, 2017,; and “URGENT: Heavy deployment of security forces in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, August 19, 2017,  
[5] “Alshabab loses Barire town to Somali government forces with Amisom,” Goobjoog News, August 19, 2017,; “Joint forces to await set up of local administrations in captured areas before exit,” Goobjoog News, August 20, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 19, 2017,
[6] Citizen TV Kenya, Twitter, August 18, 2017,
[7] “IEBC deputy presiding officer murdered in Siaya County,” Daily Nation, August 19, 2017,
[8] Morad News, Twitter, August 21, 2017,
[9] “KDF bombs Boni Forest to flush out Shabaab,” Daily Nation, August 21, 2017,
[10] “Police gun down wanted Mpeketoni attack mastermind,” The Star, August 18, 2017,

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