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: Southern secessionists consolidate control over Aden city; al Houthi forces claim to fire ballistic missile at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; U.S. airstrikes kill AQAP militants in central and southern Yemen; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenyan opposition inaugurates leader as “people’s president;” al Shabaab conducts IED attacks against KDF in southern Somalia and Puntland forces in northern Somalia; Jubbaland state president orders arrest of state MP

Yemen Security Brief

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) consolidated its control over Aden city on January 29 and 30. STC forces seized key administrative and military sites, confining the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir to the Ma’ashiq Presidential Palace in Craiter district, southern Aden. The U.S. Department of State called for political dialogue between forces clashing in Aden, emphasizing the need for political negotiations to establish a unified Yemeni state on January 29. The STC is an Emirati-backed representative body that seeks autonomy in southern and eastern Yemen. The STC issued an ultimatum on January 21 threatening to topple the Daghir government if internationally recognized President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi failed to dismiss Daghir’s government by January 28.[1] 

The al Houthi movement claimed to fire a long-range Borkan-H2 ballistic missile at King Khalid international airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 30. Saudi Arabia has not responded to the alleged launch. The al Houthi movement previously fired a Borkan-H2 at Riyadh in December 2017.[2]

U.S. airstrikes killed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in central and southern Yemen.  Reported U.S. airstrikes killed two AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate on January 29 and three AQAP militants in Abyan governorate on January 28. The U.S. has conducted five reported airstrikes targeting AQAP militants since January 27.[3]

AQAP militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces at a security checkpoint, northeast of Ataq city, Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen. AQAP militants attacked the checkpoint with small arms after detonating the SVBIED. AQAP’s social media statement on the attack announced AQAP militants conduct these types of operations in retaliation for counterterrorism raids and arbitrary arrests by the Shabwani Elite Forces. AQAP did not report using a SVBIED in the attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA) inaugurated its leader, Raila Odinga, as the “people’s president” in Nairobi, Kenya on January 30. Kenyan authorities blocked three private television stations in an attempt to prevent live coverage of the event. President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the media against covering the event, and the Kenyan attorney general described the inauguration as treason. Odinga ran for president against Kenyatta in August 2017. The Kenyan Supreme Court struck down Kenyatta’s victory. Kenyatta won a re-run election, which Odinga’s supporters boycotted, in October 2017. Clashes between protesters and Kenyan police forces have killed about 50 people since the August vote. The dispute has become a protracted political crisis in Kenya.[5]  

Al Shabaab militants conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) near the Somali-Kenyan border in Hoosingo in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on January 30. Al Shabaab claimed the attack and stated that the border is artificial. Al Shabaab has conducted multiple attacks against KDF troops in northern Kenya in January 2018. The group also claimed an IED attack on a truck carrying Puntland security forces in Galgala, near the regional capital, Boosaso.[6]

Jubbaland state president Ahmed Mohamed Islam ordered the arrest of state member of parliament (MP) Ahmed Tajir in Kismayo, the state capital on January 30. Tajir proposed impeachment articles against the state president, which the state assembly accepted and tabled for debate. Tajir claimed the arrest was unconstitutional. President Islam has removed three MPs since he took power in May 2013.[7]

[1] Saleh al-Batati and Asa Fitch, “Yemen Separatists Seize Southern Military Base,” The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2018,; “Yemen separatists capture Aden, government confined to palace: residents,” Reuters, January 30, 2018,; and “Death toll rises on second day of clashes in Yemeni port of Aden,” Reuters, January 29, 2018,

[2] “The missile force launches the Borkah-H2 at King Khaled airport in Riyadh,” Ansar Allah, January 30, 2018,

[3] “Five al Qaeda members killed in two air raids in al Bayda,” Aden Lang, January 30, 2018,; and “Two members of the resistance were killed by U.S. airstrikes in al Bayda,” Al Masdar, January 29, 2018,

[4] “Eleven dead in suicide attack at Yemen checkpoint: officials,” Reuters, January 30, 2018,; and “14 members of the Shabwani Elite were killed by a suicide attack in Ataq, Shabwah,” Al Masdar, January 30, 2018,

[5] “Kenyans Name a ‘People’s President,’ and TV Broadcasts Are Cut,” The New York Times, January 30, 2018,; “Kenya TV coverage curbs for Raila Odinga 'inauguration',” BBC, January 30. 2018,; and “Kenya's government suspends broadcasters as Odinga takes symbolic oath,” Reuters, January 30, 2018,

[6] “ Shabaab Claims Explosive Attacks on Kenyan Forces Near Border, Puntland Forces in Puntland,” January 30, 2018, available by subscription at; and “Blast kills two Kenyan soldiers, injure 3 others near border town,” January 29, 2018,

[7] “Jubbland state MP arrested in Kismayo town,” Goobjoog News, January 30, 2018,

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