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: Saudi officials meet with international partners in Jeddah; AQAP and ISIS attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate; counterterrorism forces sweep Aden districts; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz governorate; anti-al Houthi militias clash in Taiz governorate; al Hizam security forces demand salaries in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: Security forces launch offensive targeting al Shabaab in Gedo region; al Shabaab urges attacks against Western forces in East Africa; U.S. Secretary of State promises “renewed urgency” in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia; al Shabaab attacks SNA soldiers in Mogadishu; Puntland soldiers detain al Shabaab militants in Garowe, Nugaal region; Kenyan police release photos of wanted militants; China deploys troops to prepare military base in Djibouti

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi officials met with international partners in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this week. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed counter-threat financing with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir on July 12. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed discussed the Saudi-led coalition’s progress in Yemen with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi General Intelligence head Khalid Humaidan on July 11.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh fighters with heavy machine guns in Tayab area, Dhi Na’im district, central al Bayda governorate on July 12. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda killed three al Houthi-Saleh fighters with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Qayfa area, al Bayda governorate on July 11. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claimed a similar attack on July 8. Militias aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government killed four al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Sawma’ah district, al Bayda governorate on July 12. AQAP frequently attacks al Houthi-Saleh fighters in coordination with ISIS and tribal militias in al Bayda governorate.[2]  

Counterterrorism forces swept suspected militant locations in Mansoura and al Buraiqeh districts, Aden city on July 11. Security officials called for the public’s help in reporting and preventing the gathering of armed groups. Protesters demonstrated outside of a security headquarters in Aden city over arbitrary detentions in southern Yemeni prisons.[3]

Forces aligned with the Hadi government clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz governorate. They killed seven al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Ma’fir district, central Taiz governorate on July 12. Hadi government-aligned forces also took control of strategic highlands in the area in an effort to disrupt an al Houthi-Saleh supply line from Taiz city. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill four Hadi government-aligned soldiers at the Tashrifat military base in Taiz city on July 11. Hadi government-aligned forces claimed to control the base on June 5.[4]

Anti-al Houthi militias fought amongst themselves in Taiz governorate on July 12. Militias exchanged fire in Taiz city, injuring three civilians. Local militias also clashed in Taiz city during protests over the Hadi government’s failure to distribute salaries on June 27.[5]

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces protested in al Mahfad district, eastern Abyan governorate on July 11. The soldiers threatened to block roads in Abyan governorate until they receive their salaries. The Hadi government announced an effort to address the soldiers’ grievances and ensure the roads in Abyan governorate remain open.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) and Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers launched an offensive targeting al Shabaab strongholds in Gedo region, southern Somalia on July 11. Security forces reclaimed territory from al Shabaab on the outskirts of Bardhere town, which lies along Wadi Jubba and a major highway in southwestern Somalia. Security forces intend to expand the operation beyond Bardhere in an attempt to reclaim every al Shabaab stronghold in the region. Al Shabaab uses its Gedo region strongholds to stage attacks along the Kenyan-Somali border.[7]

Al Shabaab released a propaganda video urging attacks against U.S., European, and African forces deployed throughout Africa on July 11. The video features a deceased Kenyan foreign fighter who urges Muslims in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to attack foreign security forces. The video also features deceased Kenyan cleric Shekhe Ibrahim Rogo, who urges Muslims to leave Kenya. The video is the second installment in al Shabaab’s “Inspire the Believers” video series.[8] 

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo the U.S. is “ready to support Somalia and cooperate on eradicating the threats of terror” in a phone call on July 11. Secretary Tillerson claimed the U.S. must fight al Shabaab with “renewed urgency.” U.S. AFRICOM conducted an airstrike intended to reinforce SNA troops amid an al Shabaab raid near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on July 4.[9]

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on SNA soldiers in Yaqshid district, Mogadishu on July 12. The attack killed one soldier and wounded another. Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting an AMISOM convoy at Sinka Dher area near Mogadishu on July 12. The attack inflicted an unspecified number of casualties. Al Shabaab claimed to kill contractors from the U.S. security firm Bancroft in the attack. This claim is not confirmed.[10]

Puntland soldiers detained 14 al Shabaab militants in an operation near Garowe, Nugaal region, northern Somalia on July 11. The detainees include two women and a foreign fighter of unspecified nationality. The Puntland security operation follows a series of raids targeting al Shabaab militants in the Galgala Mountains, Bari region, northern Somalia. Puntland forces destroyed several al Shabaab bases in the Galgala Mountains on July 9.[11]

China deployed troops to Djibouti to prepare for the opening of its first foreign military base. An unspecified number of Chinese naval vessels departed from Zhanjiang port in Guangdong province, southern China on July 11. The Chinese government stated that it will use the support base to enhance peacekeeping and humanitarian aid initiatives in Africa and Middle East. Construction began in April 2016.[12]

[1] “Foreign Minister meets US Secretary of State,” Saudi Presse Agency, July 12,; “King Salman and Tillerson Discuss Counterterrorism,” Barakish, July 12, 2017,; and “Crown Prince meets UN envoy to Yemen, discusses developments in Yemeni arena,” Saudi Presse Agency, July 11, 2017,
[2] AQAP targets al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Bayda, Telegram, July 12, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 12, 2017,; and “Four rebels killed after the outbreak of fierce battles in the al Sawmah, al Bayda governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, July 12, 2017,
[3] Counterterrorism Team - Aden Security, Facebook, July 11, 2017,; “Anti-terror forces carry out a large-scale military campaign in Aden,” Aden Lange, July 12, 2017,; and “Tension in Aden after a Call to Protest in front of Coalition Headquarters after the Deployment of Security in the Area,” Aden Tomorrow, July 12, 2017,  
[4] “Government forces advance in western Taiz province and kill 7 Houthis, including a leader,” Al Masdar Online, July 12, 2017,; and “Destroying a tank and targeting concentrations of mercenaries in Taiz,” Sabanews, July 11, 2017,
[5] “Three injured by renewed clashes between the resistance factions in Gamal Street in downtown Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, July 12, 2017,; and “A military commander survives an assassination attempt and soldiers burn down tires in downtown Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 27, 2017,
[6] “Al Hizam security forces in al Mahfad district, Abyan Demand a Solution to their Problems,” Aden Lange, July 12, 2017,; and “Al Hizam security forces in al Mahfad Demand an Improvement to their Situation and Warn of being Ignored,” Aden Tomorrow, July 11, 2017,
[7] “​Somalia: Allied troops launch offensive against al-Shabaab in Gedo,” Garowe Online, July 11, 2017,
[8] “Kenyan Shabaab Fighter Incites Muslims in East Africa to Fight Collectively in Posthumous Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 11, 2017, available by subscription at
[9] “Rex Tillerson reaffirms US commitment to support Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 12, 2017,
[10] Al Shabaab kills SNA soldier in Mogadishu, Telegram, July 12, 2017; Al Shabaab claims attack on AMISOM convoy near Mogadishu, Telegram, July 12, 2017; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 12, 2017,
[11] “Puntland troops capture 14 alleged Al-Shabaab militants,” Shabelle News, July 11, 2017,
[12] “Djibouti: Chinese troops depart for first overseas military base,” BBC, July 12, 2017,

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