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: Hadhrami Elite Forces arrest AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate, southern Yemen; al Houthi officials reportedly fire soldiers loyal to former president Saleh; coalition forces repel al Houthi-Saleh attacks along Saudi-Yemeni border; Hadi government-aligned forces advance in southern Taiz city, western Yemen; Russian plane delivers aid to Aden city; Turkish ship delivers aid to Aden port

Horn of Africa: Kenyan soldiers kill al Shabaab commander in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab kills two civilians in Lamu County, eastern Kenya; al Shabaab attempts VBIED attack in Mogadishu; Somali intelligence officers to wear plain clothes due to al Shabaab assassination campaign; Kenya offers reward for five suspected al Shabaab militants; Somali police identify 500 AMISOM abuses against Somali civilians and security forces; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a clashes with villagers in Galgudud region

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces arrested three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in western Hadramawt governorate on July 20. Yemeni security officials stated that the militants participated in an attack on a Hadhrami Elite Forces camp in Daw’an district, western Hadramawt governorate on June 12.[1]   

Al Houthi officials laid off thousands of Republican Guard soldiers loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh from the Ministry of Defense in Sana’a city, according to southern Yemeni sources. Reports claimed that al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi supported the dismissals to ensure the safety of al Houthi fighters on the battlefield. The al Houthi-Saleh faction criminalized any criticism of their partnership on July 18 to counter accusations of a growing rift.[2]

Saudi-led coalition forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces along the southwestern Saudi border on July 20. Saudi-led coalition soldiers reported al Houthi-Saleh casualties following an engagement involving small arms and mortar fire near Jazan province. Saudi-led coalition forces engaged al Houthi-Saleh forces along the southern Najran province border, with casualties reported on both sides. Al Houthi-Saleh ground forces attacked Saudi-led coalition positions in Saudi Arabia on July 17.[3] 

Forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government advanced in southern Taiz city on July 19. Hadi government forces seized Salheen hill, killing two al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Hadi government-aligned forces are attempting to consolidate their control over strategic areas near the Taiz-Aden road in southeastern Taiz governorate. The Hadi government also deployed military police to Taiz city center in response to recent clashes between Hadi government-aligned militias in the area.[4]

A Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations plane departed Russia carrying more than 23 tons of relief goods bound for Aden city on July 20. A Russian plane delivered approximately 20 tons of humanitarian aid to Yemen through the Sana’a International Airport on July 17. The plane evacuated 62 Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States citizens from Sana’a to Moscow on July 18.[5]

A Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid entered al Mualla port, southern Aden city on July 20. Yemeni presidential protection troops briefly prevented the ship from entering the port, according to local reports. The Yemeni government’s High Relief Committee denied the incident.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers claimed to kill an al Shabaab senior commander in a raid on Dhobley town in Afmadow district, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 19. Jubbaland security forces also participated in the raid, which targeted an al Shabaab leader named Hassan Issack Ibrahim (Belia). Ibrahim oversaw al Shabaab operations in Gelef area, south of Afmadow. Security forces displayed Ibrahim’s body in Dhobley town after the raid.[7]

Al Shabaab shot and killed two civilians in Mararani village, Lamu County, Eastern Kenya on July 20. Security forces found the bodies after the two victims disappeared from Mararani village. Al Shabaab maintains a stronghold in the Boni Forest in Lamu County, which serve as a launch pad for frequent attacks in the area.[8] 

Likely al Shabaab militants attempted a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 20. Somali security forces interdicted the attack, intercepting the truck loaded with explosive material at a checkpoint outside of the capital.[9]

The Somali government will reportedly order its National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers to exchange official uniforms for plain clothes. The decision follows al Shabaab’s months-long assassination campaign targeting elected and security officials.[10]

Kenya released the names and photographs of five suspected al Shabaab militants believed to be plotting attacks in Kenya on July 19. The Kenyan government offered nearly $20,000 in exchange for information leading to their arrests. The names of the suspected militants are Gufu Tari Gufu, Mohamed Tajir Ali, Suleiman Irungu Mwangi, Abdikadir Mohamed ‘Ikrima,’ and Salad Tari Gufu. Salad Tari Gufu, a college student in Kenya, surrendered himself to police and claimed the accusation is false.[11]

The Somali Traffic Police Department documented over 500 incidents involving African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) personnel, including civilian shootings and traffic accidents. Somali Traffic Police accused AMISOM of destroying civilian, commercial, and military vehicles. Somalia Traffic Police Official Ali Hirsi stated that AMISOM has resolved only 20 of the incidents.[12]

Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) militants clashed with villagers in Herale village, Galgudud region, central Somalia on July 20. Five people died in the clashes.  ASWJ is a Sufi militant group that operates in south-central Somalia.[13]

[1] “Government forces arrest three al Qaeda members in Daw'an, Hadramawt,” Al Masdar Online, July 20, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 26, 2017,
[2] “The Houthis removed Ali Saleh’s supporters from their posts in the Ministry of Defense,” Aden Tomorrow, July 20, 2017,; and “The Houthis and Saleh Conference sign an agreement to criminalize and hold accountable anyone who criticizes the practices of their alliance,” Al Masdar Online, July 18, 2017,
[3] “Saudi forces repel a night attack by al Houthis off Jazan,” Aden Tomorrow, July 20, 2017,; “Mercenaries killed and wounded in an attack on al Tala’ah, Najran,” Saba news, July 20, 2017,; and “Army kills 3 Saudi soldiers, fires artillery on others in border cities,” Sabanews, July 17, 2017,  
[4] “Government forces control Salheen hill in the south of Taiz, killing three soldiers and five Houthis,” Al Masdar Online, July 19, 2017,; and “The military police reinforce their deployment in the center of the city of Taiz to support the security forces and control the chaos,” Al Masdar Online, July 20, 2017,
[5] “Emergency Ministry’s I1-76 plane delivering another humanitarian cargo to Yemen,” Relief Web, July 20, 2017,; and “Russia evacuates its citizens from Sana’a,” Aden Lange, July 19, 2017,
[6] “Aden: End of tension at port after Turkish delegation allowed entry,” Barakish, July 20, 2017,; and “Coordinator of the High Committee for Relief denies denying a Turkish ship entry into the port of Aden,” Al Masdar Online, July 20, 2017,
[7] “Kenyan soldiers kill Al-Shabaab chief in southern Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 20, 2017,
[8] NationBreakingNews, Twitter, July 20, 2017,
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 20, 2017,
[10] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 19, 2017,
[11] “Al Shabaab suspect Salad Tari Gufu surrenders to police - says he is the person on the list,” Standard Media, July 20, 2017,; and “Police release photos, names of Shabaab 'terrorists' planning fresh attacks,” Daily Nation, July 19, 2017,
[12] “AMISOM Linked To 500 Accidents In Somalia,” Radio Dalsan, July 19, 2017,
[13] Morad News, Twitter, July 20, 2017,

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