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: Hadi government forces seize road linking Sa’ada and al Jawf governorates, northern Yemen; al Houthi movement leader condemns U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Saudi-backed forces arrive in al Mahrah, eastern Yemen; AQAP militants shell Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Western diplomats meet with Kenyan opposition; Kenyan police kill suspected al Shabaab recruiter in Mombasa county, southeastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Forces loyal to the internationally recognized Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government, backed by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, seized the al Buqa’-Yatamah road connecting Kitaf district, Sa’ada governorate and Khab wa ash Sha’af district, al Jawf governorate in northern Yemen from al Houthi forces on December 7. Hadi government forces reportedly cleared six al Houthi camps in the area. Hadi government forces have been stalled in al Jawf for the past year.[1] 

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi condemned the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and stated that the U.S. made this decision in coordination with some Arab countries on December 7. Demonstrators protested the U.S. decision on December 8 in Sana’a and Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen. Al Houthi movement political leader Mohammed Ali al Houthi announced that Yemenis are ready to defend Islamic holy sites and rejected normalization of relations with Israel on December 7.[2]

Saudi-backed forces delivered military vehicles and equipment to al Ghaydah city, al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on December 7. The Saudi-led coalition began efforts to counter smuggling through eastern Yemen in mid-November.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants fired a 82mm mortar at Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 7. AQAP frames its attacks against Emirati-backed forces as in reprisal for transgressions against the local population.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec and other Western ambassadors met with Kenyan opposition party leaders on December 8 to discuss the party’s planned inauguration of leader Raila Odinga on December 12. Godec urged the opposition party to seek other methods to protest the majority government within the framework of the Kenya constitution on December 7. Opposition party leaders stated that the inauguration will occur as scheduled and called on foreign envoys to not recognize incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta won a re-run presidential election and was inaugurated for his second term on November 28.[5]

Kenyan police killed a suspected al Shabaab recruiter in Likoni, Mombasa county, southeastern Kenya on December 8. The suspect attacked police with a sword and attempted to steal an officer’s firearm before police shot him. Al Shabaab uses a stronghold in the Boni Forest area, southeastern Kenya to conduct attacks along the Somali-Kenyan border.[6] 


[1] “Yemeni National Army provides a road (Yatamah-Buqa’) supported by coalition aircraft,” Saudi News Agency, December 7, 2017,; “Legitimacy secures the al Buqa’-Yatamah road,” Asharq Al Awsat, December 8, 2017,; and “The National Army controls the positions in al Jawf and captures ten militia,” Saba New, December 7, 2017,
[2] “Mr. Abdul Malik calls for mass demonstrations on Friday in Sanaa and all provinces to support Jerusalem,” Al Masirah, December 7, 2017,; “The Supreme Revolutionary President: The declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of the enemy entity is an aggressive American step, with the collusion of Arab regimes,” Al Masirah, December 7, 2017,; and “Masses participate in the march to support the Palestinian people and holy places and condemning the hostile American position,” Al Masirah, December 8, 2017,
[3] “The arrival of military reinforcements of the Arab Alliance to al Mahrah,” Aden Tomorrow, December 8, 2017,
[4] AQAP fires 82mm mortar at al Hizam, Telegram, December 7, 2017; and Demolinari, Twitter, December 7, 2017,
[5] Nancy Agutu, “After rebuking US, Raila meets envoys on NASA's position,” The Star, December 8, 2017,
[6] “Suspected Al Shabaab recruiter gunned down in Likoni,” The Standard, December 8, 2017,

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