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: China facilitates negotiations between UN and al Houthi-Saleh faction; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition shells al Houthi-Saleh fighters on Saudi-Yemeni border; coalition warplanes strike al Houthi-Saleh forces in southwestern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Hadi government-aligned forces in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh fighters attack Hadi government-aligned soldiers in western Ma'rib governorate; gunmen attempt to rob a bank in Aden city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab abducts Kenyan officials in Lamu County, Kenya; al Shabaab claims IED attack on Kenyan troops in Elram, Mandera County, Kenya; al Shabaab targets security forces in Mogadishu; al Shabaab clashes with SNA troops in Bardhere, Gedo region; al Shabaab claims attack on SNA near Hodur, Bakool region; U.S. President Donald Trump delays decision on removing Sudan sanctions

Yemen Security Brief

China is mediating negotiations between the United Nations and the al Houthi-Saleh faction in pursuit of a ceasefire in Yemen. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced to the UN Security Council on July 12 that China is facilitating communications with the al Houthi-Saleh faction for the transfer of al Hudaydah port to a neutral third party. Ould Cheikh Ahmed called on the Saudi-led coalition to allow civil flights into Sana’a International Airport. He also advocated efficient salary payments and reactivation of government institutions throughout Yemen. The al Houthi-Saleh faction designated Ould Cheikh Ahmed as a persona non grata on June 5. President of the UNSC and Permanent Representative to China, Mr. Liu Jieyi, reiterated support for Ould Cheikh Ahmed. UN Humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien criticized the belligerents in the Yemeni Civil War for facilitating the conflict during an address to the UNSC.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in Malla town, al ‘Arsh district, western al Bayda governorate on July 12. AQAP militants claimed to attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in Tayab area, Dhi Na’im district, central al Bayda governorate on July 12. AQAP frequently fights alongside tribal militias against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate.[2]

Saudi-led coalition forces targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Hajjah governorate on July 12. Coalition forces fired on al Houthi-Saleh fighters with artillery as they attempted to cross the Saudi-Yemeni border near Haradh city, northwestern Hajjah governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh forces frequently attack coalition positions in Najran, Jazan, and Asir regions, southwestern Saudi Arabia.[3]

Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh forces in southwestern Yemen on July 13. Coalition airstrikes killed 11 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Maqbanah and Mawza’ districts, Taiz governorate. Coalition warplanes targeted al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Madiribah district, western Lahij governorate, killing nine. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government-aligned forces also captured ten al Houthi-Saleh fighters, including an al Houthi-Saleh commander, in al Madiribah. The coalition recently accelerated airstrikes in western Taiz governorate in preparation for a ground offensive to seize the port of al Hudaydah on Yemen’s western coast.[4]

 Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked forces aligned with the Hadi government in al Matan district, al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on July 12. Al Houthi-Saleh forces and Hadi government-aligned troops clashed in al Matan district on July 7. Al Jawf governorate is a staging ground for al Houthi-Saleh raids into Saudi Arabia. Hadi government forces have also sought to secure military locations in southern al Jawf governorate to support operations in central Yemen.[5]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill four Hadi government-aligned soldiers in Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate on July 12. Forces aligned with the Hadi government acquired control over most of Marthad mountain in Sirwah district on June 28. Al Houthi-Saleh forces are attempting to repel a Hadi government offensive toward Sana’a city.[6]

Unidentified gunmen attempted to rob a bank in Aden city on July 13, injuring three civilians. The gunmen clashed with a security guard at the al Ahli branch of the Central Bank in al Mansoura district. Gunmen robbed al Omgy Bank in Sheikh Othman district, Aden city in a separate incident on June 20.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab carjacked a SUV carrying Kenyan officials in Milihoi, Lamu County, eastern Kenya on July 13. This marks al Shabaab’s third attack in Lamu County in eight days. The group clashed with police officers in Pandanguo in July 5 and beheaded nine civilians on July 8. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) convoy in Elram  near Elwaq, Mandera County, eastern Kenya on July 13.[8]

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks in Mogadishu on July 12. Al Shabaab conducted a grenade attack targeting Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers at the Mogadishu International Airport entrance, in which it claimed to kill two soldiers. Al Shabaab also claimed to kill two SNA soldiers in a grenade attack in Afgoi town in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab threw grenades targeting a Somali police station in Hawl Wadag district, Mogadishu. The attack injured two children. Al Shabaab also attacked a Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) barracks near Bakara Market in Mogadishu. Militants also extorted money from businesses at Bakara Market, reportedly demanding payments of $30,000 from large companies.[9]

Al Shabaab clashed with SNA soldiers in Daar Maclin near Bardhere, Gedo region, southern Somalia on July 12. SNA soldiers killed two al Shabaab militants in the clashes, which are part of an SNA operation targeting al Shabaab strongholds throughout Gedo region. Al Shabaab also claimed to fire mortars at Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Garbaharey, Gedo region on July 12.[10]

Al Shabaab conducted an attack targeting a SNA convoy in Hodur, Bakool region, central Somalia on July 13. The group killed two officers and seized their motorcycles.[11]

The Trump administration delayed its decision on the removal of sanctions on Sudan by three months on July 12. President Trump was expected to decide whether to lift the sanctions by July 15. The U.S. indicated it would remove the sanctions if Sudan made progress in ceasing support for terrorism and breaches of international law. Sudan suspended talks with the U.S. in response to the delay.[12]

[1] “Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (Special Envoy) on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council, 7999th meeting,” The United Nations Web TV, July 12, 2017,; “UN envoy asks to study resumption of flights to Sanaa,” Al Arabiya, July 12, 2017,; “Yemen rebels reject UN envoy as mediator in conflict,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2017,; “SC President, Liu Jieyi (China) on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council Media Stakeout (12 July 2017),” The United Nations, July 12, 2017,; and “U.N. slams warring parties in Yemen for fueling cholera outbreak,” Reuters, July 12, 2017,    
[2] AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in Bayda, Telegram, July 12, 2017; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 12, 2017,
[3] “Saudi forces kill 20 Houthis who tried to cross the border,” Aden Tomorrow, July 13, 2017,
[4] “Coalition raids on Houthi sites west of Taiz, killing 11 Houthis and wounding 15,” Al Masdar Online, July 13, 2017,; and “Nine al Houthis killed and nine others captured in Battles against Government Forces in al Madiriba, west Lahij,” Al Masdar Online, July 13, 2017,
[5] “Mercenaries Killed and Wounded in al Matan, al Jawf,” Sabanews, July 12, 2017,; “Clearing of Site in al Matan, al Jawf,” Sabanews, July 12, 2017,; and "Tense Battles between the Army and Resistance in al Hazm, al Jawf," Barakish, September 14, 2016,    
[6] “Four mercenaries killed in the aggression towards Sirwah,” Sabanews, July 12, 2017,
[7] “Gunmen fire on bank in Aden, source says three people were injured National Bank of Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, July 13, 2017,
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 13, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims attack on Kenyan military convoy in Mandera County, Telegram, July 13, 2017. 
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 12, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 12, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims several attacks in Mogadishu, Telegram, July 12, 2017.
[10] “Two militants reportedly killed in Gedo fighting,” Shabelle News, July 12, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims it shelled Ethiopian AMISOM in Garbaharey, Telegram, July 12, 20017.
[11] Mogadishu Update, Twitter, July 13, 2017,; Garowe Online, Twitter, July 13, 2017,; and Al Shabaab claims attack on security forces in Hodur, Telegram, July 13, 2017.
[12] “Sudan freezes talks with US over sanctions,” Al Jazeera, July 12, 2017,

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