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: President Hadi dismisses AQAP-affiliated al Bayda governor; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; AQAP militants target al Hizam security forces in Abyan governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell coalition warship near al Hudaydah port, western Yemen; Russia delivers aid to Aden International Airport; Central Bank of Yemen may move from Aden city to Amman, Jordan; Hadi government-aligned forces gain ground in Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab propaganda urges Kenyan military withdrawal from Somalia; al Shabaab clashes with KDF troops near Bardhere, Gedo region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting SNA troops near Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab releases English-language propaganda bulletin demonizing the West; Somali Federal Government to target extortion payments to al Shabaab; Jubbaland forces execute al Shabaab militants near Beled-Hawo, Gedo region; al Shabaab claims attacks on AMISOM forces in Hiraan region, central Somalia; China considers troop deployment to Djiboutian-Eritrean border

Yemen Security Brief

Internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi dismissed al Bayda governor Nayef Saleh al Qaysi on July 23. The U.S. Treasury Department designated al Qaysi as an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) facilitator in May 2016. Al Qaysi provides financial and material support to AQAP and facilitates its expansion in al Bayda governorate by encouraging tribal militias to avoid fighting the group. President Hadi appointed Saleh Ahmed al Rasas, the former deputy governor of al Bayda, as the new al Bayda governor.[1]

AQAP claimed three attacks in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen between July 22 and July 23. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at the entrance of an al Houthi-Saleh government complex in al Musalla area, western Rada’a city, central al Bayda governorate on July 22. AQAP militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in Jamajim area, al Zahir district, southern al Bayda governorate and in Tuba al Mukhtabi area, Dhi Na’im district, central al Bayda on July 23. AQAP targets al Houthi-Saleh forces to strengthen its base in central Yemen by presenting itself as protector of the local population.[2]

AQAP militants detonated an IED targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Zinjibar, southern al Bayda governorate on July 24. Al Hizam forces arrested several suspected AQAP militants in Zinjibar on June 13. AQAP gunmen also assassinated al Hizam commander Abdul Hakim Amir in al Wuday district, central Abyan governorate on July 23. Al Hizam security forces conduct security and counterterrorism operations in southern Yemen.[3] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched two ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia on July 23, according to al Houthi-Saleh media. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a “Borkan-2” missile targeting an oil refinery in Yanbu port, western Saudi Arabia. The al Houthi-Saleh faction claimed the attack was retribution for the Saudi-led coalition airstrike that killed approximately 20 civilians in Taiz governorate on July 18. An al Houthi-Saleh press release also framed the strike as a warning to international companies supporting the Saudi-led coalition. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also launched a “Zilzal-1” missile toward Jazan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on July 23.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to shell a Saudi-led coalition warship near al Hudaydah port, western Yemen on July 24. Pro-coalition media did not confirm the attack. Al Houthi-Saleh forces last claimed to strike a coalition vessel in the Red Sea on June 25. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have targeted coalition and U.S. vessels in the Red Sea with surface-to-ship missiles several times in the past year.[5]

A Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations plane delivered approximately 23 tons of aid to Aden International Airport on July 24. The plane departed Russia on July 20 and stopped in southern Egypt before proceeding to Yemen. The plane delivered food aid and materials for housing. A Russian plane delivered 20 tons of aid to Sana’a International Airport on July 17.[6]

The Central Bank of Yemen may move banking operations from Aden city to Amman, Jordan, according to a local news source. Central Bank leadership will meet in Amman on August 6 to discuss the transfer. The internationally recognized Yemeni government has not paid most government salaries for more than ten months. The UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is based in Amman, Jordan.[7]

Hadi government-aligned forces advanced in Taiz governorate on July 22. Forces loyal to the Hadi government gained ground in Jabal Nabidah, northwest of Camp Khalid ibn al Walid, western Taiz governorate. Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched nine airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh positions southeast of the camp. Hadi government-aligned forces also seized Jabal al Darb in al Ma’fir district, central Taiz governorate. Hadi government forces are attempting to consolidate control in Taiz governorate to facilitate a northward offensive on al Hudaydah port. Hadi government military police are also attempting to quell clashes between rival militias in Taiz city. An unknown gunman also killed two Hadi government-aligned military police in Taiz city center on July 24. Clashes are also ongoing in southeastern Taiz governorate, where al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to kill Hadi troops in Hayfan district on July 24.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab released a video portraying an English-speaking militant arguing for a Kenyan military withdrawal from Somalia. The militant cites the escalation of al Shabaab attacks in Kenya, Kenya’s increased national security budget, and degraded economic conditions in an attempt to drive voter demand for military withdrawal ahead of Kenya’s August 8 elections. The militant also mocked U.S. President Donald Trump. Al Shabaab released the English- and Somali-language video, titled “The Kenyan Invasion - Before & After 'Linda Nchi,'” on July 23. A poll released on July 23 shows incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta maintains a four percentage point lead over challenger Ralia Odinga. President Kenyatta favors a Kenyan surge against al Shabaab in Somalia, whereas Odinga favors withdrawal.[9]

Al Shabaab militants attacked Kenya Defense Force (KDF) soldiers in Fahfahdun village, Gedo region, southern Somalia on July 23. Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting a KDF convoy in Fahfahdhun village near Bardhere. Militants ambushed the convoy after detonating the IED. Al Shabaab claimed it killed six soldiers in the attack.[10]

Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers near Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on July 23. Militants attacked the troops traveling on a highway connecting Baidoa and Deynunay towns in Bay region. The attack killed three soldiers. Somali security forces launched two operations intended to clear ground lines of communication in Bay region last week.[11]

Al Shabaab released the first edition of an English-language bulletin titled “Al Hijrah” on July 21. The bulletin urged the group’s followers to identify and reject plots to “water down” al Qaeda. “Al Hijrah” also lists the groups’ local and global goals, which al Shabaab previously released on June 24. The group released a second edition of the bulletin on July 22 in which it accuses the West of being the real source of terror. Al Shabaab released two video series encouraging foreign fighter recruitment over the past two months.[12]

Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) Chief Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbalolshe announced that the Somali Federal Government implemented measures to pursue legal action and seize assets from businesses that pay extortion money to al Shabaab. The group reportedly receives $150 million in extortion payments each year.[13]

Jubbaland State forces executed four al Shabaab militants in Beled-Hawo, Gedo region, southern Somalia on July 24. Jubbaland forces executed the militants for murdering a local elder. Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe is expected to visit to Gedo region in the coming days.[14] 

Al Shabaab claimed attacks on Ethiopian and Djiboutian AMISOM bases in Jalalaqsi and Halgen towns, Hiraan region, central Somalia on July 24. Al Shabaab also detonated an IED targeting a Djiboutian AMISOM soldier near Bulaberte, Hiraan region on July 22.[15]

China is reportedly considering deploying troops to the Djiboutian-Eritrean border, according to China’s ambassador to the African Union. The deployment is intended to alleviate tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea that arose after Qatar withdrew its peacekeeping troops from the disputed border. Qatar deployed peacekeepers after Djibouti and Eritrea clashed over the border in 2008. Eritrea deployed troops to the contested border in response to the Qatari withdrawal, prompting Djibouti to place its military “on alert.” China deployed soldiers to man its first foreign military base, located in Djibouti, on July 11.[16]

[1] “A presidential decree was issued appointing a governor of al Bayda governorate,” Sabanew, July 23, 2017,; “Treasury designates al Qaeda, al Nusrah Front, AQAP, and Isil fundraisers and facilitators,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 19, 2016,; “Saleh al Rasas is appointed governor of al Bayda governorate - biography,” July 23, 2017,; and “Hadi Ousts Three Governors who Announced Their Support for the Southern Transitional Council,” Al Masdar Online, June 29, 2017,
[2] AQAP detonates IED in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, July 22, 2017; Maher Farrukh, Twitter, July 23, 2017,; and AQAP shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, July 23, 2017. 
[3] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 23, 2017,; and “Unidentified gunmen assassinate a security official in al Wuday district in Abyan governorate,” Al Masdar Online,; AQAP kills an al Hizam security forces commander in Abyan governorate, Telegram, July 24, 2017; AQAP detonates an IED targeting al Hizam security forces in Abyan governorate, Telegram, July 24, 2017; and “Security #Abyan carried out a number of arrests in Zinjibar and Ja’ar,” Aden Lang, June 13, 2017,
[4] “The rocket force announces the launch of the post-Riyadh phase,” Sabanews, July 23, 2017,; and “Army fires ballistic missile on Jizan,” Sabanews, July 23, 2017,
[5] “Naval forces target Saudi war boat in Hodeida,” Sabanews, July 24, 2017,; and “Navy announces the targeting of an enemy ship off the coast of Mokha, Taiz,” Al Masirah, June 25, 2017,
[6] “Russia returns to Aden 23 years after their departure,” Aden Tomorrow, July 24, 2017,; and “Emergency Ministry’s I1-76 plane delivering another humanitarian cargo to Yemen,” Relief Web, July 20, 2017,
[7] “Local newspaper .. The transfer of the central bank from Aden to Jordan,” Hadramout Net, July 24, 2017,; and “Jordan agrees to transfer Ould Cheikh’s office from the United States to Amman temporarily,” Aden Tomorrow, June 20, 2017,
[8] “Government forces advance in the northwest of Taiz and control new positions,” Al Masdar Online, July 22, 2017,; “The Yemeni army controls the strategic mountain range in Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, July 23, 2017,; “Government forces reinforce their advance near camp Khalid in the west of Taiz with support from coalition fighters,” Al Masdar Online, July 22, 2017,; “The son of the military police commander and another soldier were killed in the city of Taiz,” Al Masdar Online,; “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,; and “Army repels infiltration of mercenaries in Taiz,” Sabanews, July 24, 2017;
[9] “Seeking to Influence Kenyan General Election, Shabaab Video Details Losses Since War Engagement and Mocks U.S. President Trump,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 23, 2017, available by subscription at; and “Kenya: Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga in Tight House Race - Poll,” Daily Nation, July 23, 2017,
[10] Somalia Live Update, Twitter, July 23, 2017,; and “Kenyan forces battle Al Shabaab militants in Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 23,
[11] “Roadside explosion near Baidoa kills 3 soldiers, injures several,” Shabelle News, July 24, 2017,
[12] “New issue of the bulletin: “al-Hijrah #1,” Jihadology, July 21, 2017,; and “New issue of the bulletin: “al-Hijrah #2,”Jihadology, July 22, 2017,
[13] “Somali Government warns traders against funding Al Shabaab,” Shabelle News, July 23, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 23, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 23, 2017,
[14] “Four Al shabaab members killed in Beled-Hawo town,” Shabelle News, July 24, 2017,
[15] Al Shabaab claims attacks on AMISOM in Hiraan region, Telegram, July 24, 2017; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 2017,
[16] Elias Meseret, “China would consider sending troops for Djibouti-Eritrea,” The San Francisco Chronicle, July 21, 2017,

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