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: AQAP condemns U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Hadi government forces enter southernmost district of al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen; President Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to ease blockade; al Houthi movement consolidates control in Sana’a; Emirati-backed forces arrest AQAP officer in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab spokesman urges Muslims to retaliate against U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital; Uganda begins AMISOM troop withdrawal; reported U.S. airstrike targets al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; six al Shabaab militants surrender to Somali forces in Bay region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) condemned U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called on all Muslims to support the mujahideen with money and weapons to defend holy territory in a December 6 statement. AQAP accused the U.S. of being subservient to Zionism and pointed to the decision as evidence of the Gulf States normalizing relations with Israel.[1]

Hadi government-aligned forces, reportedly backed by pro-Saleh and Saudi-led coalition ground forces, advanced farther into al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on December 7 than at any other point in the conflict. Hadi government-aligned forces seized Abu Musa and al Ashari military camps, northeast of al Khawkhah town, southern al Hudaydah governorate on December 7 after launching an offensive on December 6. Hadi government forces had been stalled in Yakhtul, western Taiz governorate for several months.[2] 

U.S. President Donald Trump called on Saudi Arabia to allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people immediately on December 6. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters that former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s death will likely worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in the short term on December 5. The Saudi-led coalition prevented oil tankers from entering al Hudaydah port, northern Yemen for a month despite them being approved by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen. Commercial ships carrying food and fuel reportedly arrived for the first time at al Hudaydah port on December 6.[3]

The al Houthi movement is consolidating control in Sana’a city, northern Yemen. Al Houthi forces reportedly placed thirteen members of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party under house arrest on December 7, including Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf. The al Houthi movement also reportedly blocked major social networking sites and instant messaging apps in Sana’a on December 7. Al Houthi forces seized gold, weapons, and cash from Saleh’s home to deposit in the al Houthi-controlled Central Bank and to distribute to al Houthi forces.[4]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces arrested AQAP officer Abu Salem al Walidi in Kawkab area, east of Mudiyah city, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 6. Al Hizam forces transferred al Walidi who is reportedly AQAP’s Abyan financial officer to Jaar city, Khanfir district to hand him over to Saudi-led coalition forces.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohammed Rage called on Muslims to fight in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Rage framed the decision as an “escalation” in the Trump administration’s “aggression against Islam.”[6]

Kenyan attorney general Githu Muigai threatened on December 7 to charge opposition leader Raila Odinga with treason if the opposition party swears him in as president. The opposition party plans to inaugurate Odinga as president on Kenya’s Independence Day, December 12. Several counties passed motions supporting Odinga.[7]

Uganda began to withdraw its forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on December 7. Uganda will remove 281 of its 6,000 troops from Somalia by December 31, 2017. The UN Security Council voted in August 2017 to withdraw 1,000 AMISOM forces from Somalia before 2018 and all 22,000 forces by the end of 2020.[8] 

A reported U.S. airstrike targeted al Shabaab militants transporting bomb-making supplies near Ilimey village, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on November 6. Al Shabaab’s regional governor claimed that the strike killed several civilians. The U.S. has conducted 14 airstrikes in Somalia since November 1 to defend Somali National Army (SNA) positions and clear al Shabaab hideouts. Ilimey is located six miles from Farsoley, a major al Shabaab stronghold.[9] 

Six al Shabaab militants surrendered to SNA forces in Dinsoor, Bay region, southern Somalia on December 7. The militants possessed an improvised attack vehicle and a weapons cache. SNA forces began counter-al Shabaab operations in the Bay region on December 6 as part of a renewed offensive.[10]

[1] AQAP responds to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel, Telegram, December 6, 2017; “AQAP calls Muslims to support Palestinian fighters in face of U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” SITE, November 13, 2017, available by subscription at; and Demolinari, Twitter, December 7, 2017,
[2] “Saudi-backed fighters capture coastal area in Yemen from Houthis,” Reuters, December 7, 2017,; “Yemeni government forces control the first area of Hudaydah,” Aden Tomorrow, December 6, 2017,; “Republican Guard surprised everyone and announce joining the National Army forces in this governorate,” Barq Press, December 6, 2017,; Mubarak al Kathiri, Twitter, December 6, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, December 7, 2017,; and “Leader of al Khawkhah front informs President of the Republic the progress of the fighting against the militia,” President Hadi, December 7, 2017,
[3] “Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Yemen,” The White House, December 6, 2017,; and “UPDATE 2-"Glimmer of hope" as food and fuel arrives in Yemen ports - NRC,” Reuters, December 6, 2017,
[4] “The al Houthi group is imposing house arrest on ministers of Saleh’s party in Sana’a,” Al Masdar, December 7, 2017,; “Houthis block social networking sites and instant messaging applications,” Al Masdar, December 7, 2017,; and “Regulating quantities of gold and monetary sums in the house of Afash,” Al Masirah, December 7, 2017,
[5] “We arrested a leader of al Qaeda but not Abu Salim, the leader in Aden,” Al Mashhad Al Araby, December 7, 2017,; and “We arrested a leader of al Qaeda but not Abu Salim, the leader in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, December 6, 2017,
[6] “Shabaab spokesman urges Muslims respond with Weapons to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital,” SITE, December 6, 2017, available by subscription at
[7] Wambui Mbuthia, “Kenyans react after AG Githu Muigai says swearing-in Raila is treason,” The Standard, December 7, 2017,
[8] “Dozens of Ugandan troops withdrawn from Somalia duty,” Washington Post, December, 7, 2017,
[9] “Air strike reported near Somalia's capital, official says Shabaab targeted,” Reuters, November 7, 2017,; and “Somalia: Drone strike kills five suspected militants,” Garowe Online, December 7, 2017,
[10] “Six Al-Shabaab militants in Bakool surrender as military offensives intensify,” Goobjoog, December 7, 2017,

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