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: AQAP calls for defense of al Aqsa Mosque; al Houthi leader condemns U.S. involvement in Yemen; AQAP criticizes ISIS Wilayat al Bayda; Southern Yemeni council confirms commitment to peace with north; former president Saleh calls for dialogue with Saudi-led coalition; UN human rights office condemns coalition airstrike in Taiz governorate; coalition advances in Taiz governorate, western Yemen; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Hadi government soldiers in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab abducts aid workers in Far Labah, Hiraan region, central Somalia; al Shabaab claims to seize Bulogud town from U.S. and AMISOM forces in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; SNA raids al Shabaab stronghold in Tortorow, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab fires mortars at Jowhar airport, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia; President Farmajo calls for end to clashes in Herale, Hiraan region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) urged Muslims to defend the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in a nashid (chant) titled “al Aqsa Appeal” on July 20. The video includes English subtitles and depicts clashes between Israeli security forces and Muslims worshipers. AQAP and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) condemned Israel’s temporary prohibition of prayer at al Aqsa in a joint statement on July 16. AQAP also released a nashid titled “Knights of al Aqsa” calling for defense of the Muslim holy site. Israel temporarily banned prayer for men under 50 and installed metal detectors at al Aqsa Mosque this week after three Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem on July 14.[1]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi condemned U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in a speech on July 20. Al Houthi claimed that the U.S. military is committed to escalating Yemen’s conflict to further divide and control the country. He also stated that Yemenis are ready to join Hezbollah in its conflict with Israel. Al Houthi called for citizens to march in Sana’a in solidarity with Palestinians in response to the al Aqsa Mosque incident.[2]

An AQAP-run social media account criticized the weakness of the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda in Yemen on July 20. AQAP claimed that ISIS Wilayat al Bayda lies to its followers and maintains a small presence in only a few areas of al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. AQAP and ISIS cooperate on a tactical level against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate.[3]    

Transitional Political Council for the South officials affirmed their commitment to peace and security in Yemen on July 20. The Emirati-backed council recently formed a governing structure that rivals the internationally recognized Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The council’s vice president, Hani bin Brik, promised that a future southern Yemeni state will not attack northern Yemen. Aqil Mohammed al Attas, the council’s minister of public labor, stated that Hadramawt governorate will be included in a future southern Yemeni state after meeting with local political leaders in al Mukalla.[4]

Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh called for negotiations with the Saudi-led coalition over the transfer of al Hudaydah port from the al Houthi-Saleh faction to a neutral third party. Saleh stated that his political party, the General People’s Congress, has been proactive in negotiations throughout the Yemeni conflict. He endorsed political reconciliation between all parties in the conflict on July 17.[5]

The Spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the Saudi-led coalition’s July 18 airstrike in Mawza’ district, western Taiz governorate. The strike killed twenty internally displaced civilians. The UN office stated that there were no military targets in the area of the strike and called for a comprehensive investigation.[6]

Saudi-led coalition forces launched an air and ground offensive on Camp Khalid bin Walid in western Taiz governorate on July 20. Coalition warplanes and warships launched 39 strikes on al Houthi-Saleh positions at Camp Khalid and al Hamli area, Mawza’ district, killing and wounding approximately twenty al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Hadi government-aligned ground forces advanced toward the camp from the north and the west. Camp Khalid bin Walid is located near a strategic junction along the road linking Taiz and al Hudaydah governorates. Coalition forces seek to disrupt the supply lines to al Houthi-Saleh forces in Camp Khalid bin Walid to facilitate the Hadi government’s northward advance toward al Hudaydah port.[7]

Forces loyal to the Hadi government clashed with al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Midi district, northern Hajjah governorate on July 20. Hadi government-aligned forces lost one soldier and killed several al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Saudi-led coalition forces seek to secure Midi district to defend Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border with Yemen.[8]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Hadi government-aligned troops in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on July 21. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill several soldiers loyal to the Hadi government in al Maslub district, southern al Jawf governorate.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants abducted four Somali aid workers and seized their vehicles in Far Labah area outside of Beledweyne, Hiraan region, central Somalia on July 21. The victims work for Hello Trust, a NGO operating in central Somalia. Al Shabaab abducted seven aid workers in Gasarta village near Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on July 15. Al Shabaab often attacks aid workers in an attempt to undermine the Somali Federal Government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.[10] 

Al Shabaab seized Bulogud town near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 21, according to local reports. The group claimed to attack U.S. forces stationed at an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in the town. Local reports stated that the attack prompted AMISOM and U.S. forces to withdraw from the town. Al Shabaab also claimed inflict casualties by firing mortars at the base. [11]

The Somali National Army (SNA) raided an al Shabaab compound in Tortorow near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on July 21. SNA soldiers destroyed the compound, which served as a base for attacks throughout Lower Shabelle and Bay regions in southern Somalia.[12]

Al Shabaab claimed to fire mortars at an airport in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on July 21. No casualties were reported. Al Shabaab frequently targets security forces in Jowhar, which lies along a major highway.[13]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo called for an end to inter-clan fighting in Herale, Hiraan region, central Somalia on July 21. Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) militants clashed with villagers in Herale village on July 20 and 21, killing at least five people. ASWJ is a Sufi militant group that operates in south-central Somalia.[14] 

[1] “AQAP RELEASES CHANT INCITING MUSLIMS TO AVENGE ISRAEL’S ACTIONS AT AL-AQSA MOSQUE,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 20, 2017, available by subscription at; “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 17, 2017,; and “Al Aqsa Mosque Tensions: Israel Bans Men Under 50 From Jerusalem Holy Site,” NBC News, July 21, 2017,   
[2] “Abdul Malik: The Yemeni people are ready to participate in any confrontation with the Israeli enemy,” Al Masirah, July 20, 2017,
[3] AQAP criticizes ISIS Wilayat al Bayda, Telegram, July 20, 2017.
[4] “Senior leader of the Transitional Council talks about the relationship with the north and about the most important principles for a southern state,” Aden Lange, July 21, 2017,; and “The Southern Transitional Council holds a consultative meeting with various factions of the southern movement in Hadramawt,” Aden Tomorrow, July 20, 2017,
[5] “President of the conference confirms that the House of Representative is not for aggression,” Sabanews, July 20, 2017,
[6] “Press briefing notes on Yemen,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, July 21, 2017,
[7] “Government forces and coalition fighters launch a large scale offensive against the Houthis in Camp Khalid,” Al Masdar Online, July 21, 2017,; and “The National Army controls the #Mokha #Taiz #Hudaydah triangle,” Barakish, July 21, 2017,
[8] Three Houthi gunmen and one member of the government forces were killed in confrontations on the Midi front,” Al Masdar Online, July 20, 2017,; and “Six Houthis killed in Midi district,” Aden Tomorrow, July 20, 2017,
[9] “Killing and wounding a number of mercenaries in a number of operations in al Jawf,” Sabanews, July 21, 2017,
[10] Somalia Live Update, Twitter, July 21, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter July 21, 2017,
[11] Al Shabaab claims to mortar AMISOM base near Kismayo, Telegram, July 21, 2017; Mogadishu Update, Twitter, July 21, 2017,
[12] AMISOM, Twitter, July 21, 2017,
[13] Somalia Live Update, Twitter, July 21, 2017,
[14] Garowe Online, Twitter, July 21, 2017,

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