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: ISIS media highlights attacks in Yemen; Hadi government imports Russian-printed Yemeni riyals; al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council President demands end to coalition blockade of al Hudaydah port; coalition-backed militias clash in Taiz city; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell Saudi border positions in Jazan and Najran regions; tribal militias prevent government troop deployment in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. and SNA forces conduct joint raid targeting al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab urges foreign fighter recruitment; al Shabaab claims ambush on Kenyan convoys in Lamu County

Yemen Security Brief

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) media accounts are highlighting attacks in Yemen. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda reported additional details from three claimed attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al ‘Ajma area, near al Qurshiyah district, and in Rada’a city in al Bayda governorate on June 8 and June 11. ISIS’s weekly al Naba magazine also highlighted recent attacks in al Bayda governorate for the first time in nearly three months.[1]

The Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is importing Yemeni riyals valued at 100 million USD from Russia. The plane carrying the currency is currently in Saudi Arabia en route to Aden city in southern Yemen. The Hadi government imported two other shipments of Russian-printed Yemeni riyals on June 1 and June 9. It intends to use the money to pay government salaries, which have been delayed for over ten months.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council President Saleh Ali al Samad stated on July 13 that the transfer of al Hudaydah port is contingent upon an end to the Saudi-led coalition’s coastal blockade. China is mediating negotiations between the UN and the al Houthi-Saleh faction for the transfer of al Hudaydah port to a neutral third party. Al Samad stated that the al Houthi-Saleh bloc is committed to peace and called for dialogue with the Hadi government.[3] 

Coalition-backed militias clashed with each other in central Taiz city on July 14. The Ghazwan Mikhlafi militia, a Hadi government-aligned force, clashed with the Abu Abbas Brigade, a coalition-backed Salafi militia that participates in a Hadi government brigade, in Deluxe Market. The militias fought over sales revenues. They also exchanged fire on July 12, injuring three civilians.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to shell Saudi-led coalition forces in Jazan and Najran regions, southwestern Saudi Arabia on July 14. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to kill three Saudi border guards with sniper fire in Jazan region. Coalition forces shelled al Houthi-Saleh fighters as they attempted to cross the Saudi-Yemeni border near Haradh city, northwestern Hajjah governorate on July 12.[5]

Tribal militias protecting an oil pipeline prevented Hadi government-aligned forces from deploying in Jardan district, northern Shabwah governorate on July 13. A tribal source stated that government forces did not inform the tribal militias of their movements. The tribes serve as the primary security force for the Shabwah pipeline in Jardan that supplies electricity to southern Yemen.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted a joint operation with Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers targeting al Shabaab in Kunya Barrow, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. U.S. and Somali forces attacked an al Shabaab detention center in Kunya Barrow, freeing an unspecified number of detainees. The joint forces also detained militants. Al Shabaab claimed to repel the attack. Local sources reported that the attack killed al Shabaab spokesperson Ali Mohamed Rage (Ali Dheere). His death is not confirmed. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson underscored the United States’ readiness to conduct counterterrorism operations with “renewed urgency” during a call with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on July 11.[7]

Al Shabaab released a propaganda video urging Muslims to travel to Somalia to fight oppressive governments. The video features a Ugandan foreign fighter. The video also includes a speech from deceased Kenyan cleric Shekhe Aboud Rogo urging Muslims to join al Shabaab in Somalia. The release marks the third propaganda video in its “Inspire the Believers” series.[8]

Al Shabaab claimed to ambush three Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) convoys in Lamu County, Kenya on July 14. The group claimed to kill five KDF soldiers. This attack, if confirmed, marks the fourth al Shabaab attack in Lamu County in nine days. Al Shabaab killed five people and kidnapped six others, including Kenyan Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam El Maawy, in Lamu County on July 13. Al Shabaab has strongholds in the nearby Boni Forest.[9]

[1] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda adds details to attacks in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, July 13, 2017; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 14, 2017,
[2] “Hadi government in Aden will receive new funds.” Aden Tomorrow, July 14, 2017,; “Hadi Government begins a new money printing operation,” Aden Tomorrow, June 9, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEIs Critical Threats Project, June 2, 2017,
[3] “President al Samad Responds to Unsolicited Letter of the Envoy,” Al Masirah, July 13, 2017,; “Al Houthi Leader Calls Opponents to Dialogue and Responds to Ould Cheikh: We Will Not Surrender the Port of al Hudaydah,” Al Masdar Online, July 14, 2017,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 13, 2017,  
[4] “Taiz: The Expansion of Clashes in Deluxe Market and an Attack on a Group of Abu Abbas Brigade in Tahrir,” Barakish, July 14, 2017,; “Breaking: Violent Clashes and a Huge Fire Broke out in the Market of Downtown Taiz,” Barakish, July 14, 2017,; and “Witnesses: Three Wounded in Renewed Clashes between Resistance Factions in Jamal Street, Taiz city center,” Al Masdar Online, July 12, 2017,  
[5] “The Army and the Popular Committees continue to inflict losses on the Saudi enemy,” Sabanews, July 14, 2017,; and “Saudi forces kill 20 Houthis who tried to cross the border,” Aden Tomorrow, July 13, 2017,
[6] “Shabwah: Militias Prevent the Deployment of Government Forces to Protect Gas Pipeline,” Barakish, July 13, 2017,
[7] “US, Somalia forces raid al-Shabab, kill several: Official,” Washington Post, July 14, 2017,; Morad News, Twitter, July 14,
[8] “Ugandan Shabaab Fighter Promotes Jihad in Posthumous Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 13, 2017, available by subscription at
[9] Al Shabaab claims to ambush KDF in Lamu County, Telegram, July 14, 2017; “Three killed, PS Maawy injured in Al-Shabaab raid, ”The Nation, July 13, 2017,; and The Nation Breaking News, Twitter, July 14, 2017,

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