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: Saudi-led coalition adds Yemeni charities to terrorist list; Hadi government accepts UN plan to transfer al Hudaydah port; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh fighters in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell coalition positions in southwestern Saudi Arabia; Hadi government minister denies Central Bank move to Amman, Jordan

Horn of Africa: Somali security forces arrest al Shabaab intelligence chief in Galkayo, Mudug region; al Shabaab releases seven aid workers in exchange for ransom; AMISOM and Somali officials meet to update security framework; al Shabaab claims attacks on SNA forces in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt designated three Yemeni organizations and their leaders as Qatar-supported facilitators of terrorism on July 25. The list includes al Balagh Charitable Foundation, headed by Ahmed Ali Baraoud, al Ihsan Charitable Society, directed by Abdullah Mohammed al Yazidi and Mohammed Bakr al Dabaa, and Rahmah Charitable Organization, which the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated as a financial supporter of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in December 2016.  Emirati-backed security forces arrested Baraoud and al Yazidi in Hadramawt governorate on July 25. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5.[1] 

The internationally recognized Yemeni government officially accepted the UN’s plan to transfer al Hudaydah port to a third party on July 25. The UN proposal calls for the transfer of al Hudaydah port, located on Yemen’s western coast, from the al Houthi-Saleh faction to an administrative council with members from the al Houthi-Saleh faction, President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, and other Yemeni political organizations. The Hadi government reiterated that the agreement is contingent on the disarmament of al Houthi-Saleh forces and their withdrawal from the port. The al Houthi-Saleh faction opposes the UN proposal.[2]

AQAP militants killed two al Houthi-Saleh fighters with a landmine in Dhi Na’im district, central al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on July 24. AQAP militants last targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im district with artillery on July 23. AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen to present itself as the protector of Yemen’s Sunni tribes from the al Houthi movement, which AQAP frames as a Shi’a invasion.[3] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Saudi-led coalition positions in southwestern Saudi Arabia on July 25. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched rockets and artillery toward Najran and Asir regions. Al Houthi-Saleh ground forces attacked Saudi-led coalition soldiers near the Khadra border crossing in Najran. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to shoot down an unmanned Saudi-led coalition reconnaissance aircraft in Najran on July 25. Al Houthi-Saleh forces frequently target coalition troops along the Saudi-Yemeni border with small arms and artillery.[4]

The Hadi government Minister of State, Salah al Sayadi, denied reports that the Central Bank of Yemen may move from Aden city to Amman, Jordan on July 24. Local news sources reported on July 24 that Central Bank leadership will meet in Amman on August 6 to discuss a possible transfer.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Puntland Security Forces captured al Shabaab’s intelligence (Amniyat) chief in a joint raid with Galmudug forces and Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on July 24. The joint forces arrested three other militants in the raid. Amniyat chief Abdirazak Hussein Tahlil (Ina Alool Geel) oversaw al Shabaab’s assassination campaign in Galkayo, which killed over 25 security forces and businessmen in nearly two months. Security forces previously arrested Tahlil in 2013 for possessing explosive material. The Puntland administration sentenced Tahlil to death but then pardoned him in 2014 due to opposition from local clan leaders.[6]

Al Shabaab freed seven Somali aid workers on July 24 after receiving a $30,000 ransom payment and weapons for their release. Al Shabaab captured the aid workers along a major highway near Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on July 15. The aid workers are employed by Garedo, a Somali NGO operating in south-central Somalia. It is unclear if Garedo or the Somali government paid the ransom.[7]

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali Federal Government officials initiated a four-day meeting in Mogadishu on July 25 to establish a framework for Somali security forces to replace AMISOM troops. The proposed security framework allows AMISOM to maintain a supporting role. The meeting seeks to implement recommendations proposed at the London Somali Conference in May 2017. AMISOM is expected to withdraw from Somalia by December 2020.[8] 

Al Shabaab claimed two attacks targeting Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers on July 25. Al Shabaab attacked SNA troops in Yantooy village Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia and assassinated an SNA commander in Wadajir district, Mogadishu on July 25, according to al Shabaab-affiliated social media accounts.[9]

[1] “Kingdom, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt add 9 entities, 9 individuals to lists of terrorist groups,” Saudi Press Agency, July 25, 2017,; “The nine entities added to the Qatar-backed terror list,” Al Arabiya, July 25, 2017,; “Treasury Designates Key Facilitators and Front Company Providing Support to Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 12, 2016,; “Hadhrami Elite Forces arrest two from the Arab terrorism lists,” Aden Lange, July 25, 2017,; and “5 Arab Nations Move to Isolate Qatar, Putting the U.S. in a Bind,” The New York Times, June 5, 2017,   
[2] “The government approves the United Nations initiative on the port of al Hudaydah against one condition,” Aden Lange, July 25, 2017,
[3] AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im district, Telegram, July 24, 2017; and Maher Farrukh, Twitter, July 24, 2017,
[4] “Army hits gatherings of Saudi army in Najran,” Sabanews, July 25, 2017,; “Dozens of Saudi soldiers, mercenaries killed in Najran, Asir, Jizan,” Sabanews, July 25, 2017,; and “The dropping of a reconnaissance plane in Najran,” Sabanews, July 25, 2017,
[5] “The government denies reports that the central bank will transfer from Amman to Jordan,” Aden Tomorrow, July 24, 2017,; and “Local newspaper .. The transfer of the central bank from Aden to Jordan,” Hadramawt Net, July 24, 2017,
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 25, 2017,; and “​Somalia: A pardoned al-Shabaab commander captured again in Galkayo,” Garowe Online, July 25, 2017,
[7] Mohamed, “Somalia: Al Shabaab frees 7 aid workers in Somalia,” Elakbardw, July 25, 2017,
[8] “A four-day meeting on Somalia’s security opens in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, July 25, 2017,
[9] Al Shabaab claims attack on SNA in Yantooy, Lower Jubba region, Telegram, July 25, 2017; and al Shabaab claims to assassinate SNA commander in Mogadishu, Telegram, July 25, 2017. 

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