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: U.S. airstrikes kill key AQAP leaders; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile at Saudi special forces camp; nephew of Ali Abdullah Saleh calls on Saudi-led coalition to stop war; AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces in central Yemen

Horn of Africa: SNA and KDF troops clash in Gedo region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported on January 10 that U.S. airstrikes killed multiple key al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leaders. An airstrike killed Habib al Sana’ani, a deputy arms facilitator and liaison with senior AQAP leaders, in Ma’rib governorate on December 19, 2017. Airstrikes also killed Miqdad al Sana’ani, an external operations facilitator, and Abu Umar al Sana’ani, an AQAP da’wa committee member, in al Bayda governorate on December 15, 2017 and November 20, 2017, respectively. CENTCOM also reported continued U.S. operations in coordination with the Yemeni government against AQAP and ISIS to degrade the groups’ abilities to conduct external attacks and hold local territory.[1]

Al Houthi forces fired a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at an Apache helicopter facility in a Saudi special forces camp near the Saudi-Yemeni border in Najran, southwestern Saudi Arabia on January 11. Al Houthi forces frequently target Saudi territory near the Yemeni border in reprisal for Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.[2] 

Tariq Saleh, a nephew of deceased former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, called on the Saudi-led coalition to stop the war on January 11. Tariq Saleh made the statement during his first public appearance since rumors of his death appeared in December 2017. He visited Ataq city, Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen to offer condolences to the family of former General People’s Congress (GPC) Secretary-General Aref al Zouka, whom al Houthi forces killed at the same time as Ali Abdullah Saleh. Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces guarded Tariq during his visit.[3]

AQAP militants attacked al Houthi forces with two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in central Yemen on January 11, according to AQAP’s official social media channel. AQAP militants killed four al Houthi troops in Juban district, al Dhaleh governorate and three al Houthi troops in Rada’a city, al Bayda governorate.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) forces clashed with a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) contingent after mistaking one another for al Shabaab militants in Elwaq, Gedo region, southern Somalia on January 12. The KDF troops were members of a special Kenyan counterterrorism unit operating clandestinely in Somalia.[5] 

[1] “U.S. Airstrikes Kill Senior Terrorists in Yemen,” U.S. Department of Defense, January 11, 2018,
[2] “Yemeni ballistic missile targeted Apache heliport in the Saudi special forces camp in Najran,” Al Masirah, January 11, 2018,; “Yemen's Houthis say they fired ballistic missile at Saudi,” Fox News, January 11, 2018,
[3] “Nephew of killed Yemeni president calls on Saudi-led coalition to stop war,” Reuters, January 10, 2018,; Demolinari, Twitter, January 11, 2018,; “Tariq Saleh appeared for the first time in the area of Shabwah, protected by Shabwani Elite Forces,” Al Masdar, January 11, 2018,
[4] AQAP attacks al Houthi forces in Juban,” Telegram, January 12, 2018; and AQAP attacks al Houthi forces in Rada’a city,” Telegram, January 12, 2018.
[5] “1 Killed As Somali, Kenyan Troops Clash In Border Town,” Radio Shabelle, January 12, 2018,

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