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: Hadi government-aligned forces enter Camp Khalid ibn al Walid, Taiz governorate, western Yemen; UAE commander criticizes Hadi government after AQAP attack in Hadramawt; Hadi government general announces plan to seize Sa’ada governorate, northwestern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces target Hadi government-aligned forces in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen; clashes continue in Taiz city; militants damage oil pipeline in Shabwah governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Captured al Shabaab intelligence chief lived in the U.S.; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting SNA troops near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; SNA troops clash with Villa Somalia guards in Mogadishu; Kenyan airstrike targets al Shabaab base near Kolbio, Lower Jubba region; food security in Somalia to worsen in 2017; al Shabaab claims attacks on security forces in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Forces aligned with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government breached Camp Khalid ibn al Walid in western Taiz governorate on July 26. Hadi government-aligned forces entered the camp’s western gate with Saudi-led coalition air support. They are attempting to clear the eastern portion of the camp. Hadi government forces have falsely claimed to seize the camp in the past. President Hadi praised the forces’ efforts in a telephone conversation with Major General Ahmad al Qasr Salem Saeed, commander of the southwestern military region. Hadi government forces seek to seize Camp Khalid in order to control the road between Taiz city and Mokha city, on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast.[1]

The Emirati commander of the Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hadramawt governorate criticized the Hadi government for failing to provide management and security in southern Yemen on July 26. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants killed three Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces soldiers during an ambush in al Dhi’ah district, western Hadramawt governorate on July 25.  The commander announced an effort to unify Emirati-backed forces in neighboring Shabwah governorate, with the ultimate goal of uniting all Emirati-backed security forces in southern Yemen.[2] 

Major General Amin al Waeli, commander of the Yemeni government’s northwestern forces, announced on July 26 that his forces have surrounded Sa’ada governorate, northwestern Yemen. Al Waeli stated that 12 military brigades are preparing to enter the governorate. He claimed that freed prisoners held by al Houthi-Saleh forces reported the presence of Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah military advisors at al Houthi-Saleh military camps in Sa’ada. Hadi government-aligned forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, are attempting to advance the frontline in Sa’ada governorate in preparation for an attack on Sana’a city.[3]  

Hadi government-aligned militias clashed in Taiz city on July 26. Two militiamen assassinated two Hadi government-aligned soldiers in Taiz city. Two unknown gunmen killed a civilian in central Taiz city. An unknown gunman also killed two Hadi government-aligned military police in Taiz city center on July 24. The Hadi government has deployed military police to Taiz city to quell clashes between rival militias, which are fighting over economic interests in the city.[4]

Unidentified militants attacked the Ayad al Nushaymah oil pipeline in Khamar area, southeastern Ataq city, Shabwah governorate on July 25. Unknown militants damaged the Ma’rib-Ras Isa oil pipeline in al Hudaydah governorate on April 8, killing nine civilians and hospitalizing over thirty.[5]     

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) stated that al Shabaab’s intelligence (Amniyat) chief Abdirazak Husain Tahlil (Ina Alool Geel) held U.S. residency and lived in the U.S. from 2006 to 2009. It is unclear if Tahlil was connected to al Shabaab while living in America. U.S. and Somali forces arrested Tahlil after conducting a joint raid in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on July 23. The Somali government is currently holding Tahlil. The Somali government pardoned Tahlil in 2014, after sentencing him to death the previous year.[6]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy traveling to Bulogud town near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 26. Al Shabaab claimed to kill and wound U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces traveling in the convoy. Al Shabaab seized Bulogud town on July 21, prompting AMISOM forces to withdraw from the town.[7] 

SNA soldiers clashed with guards at the presidential palace (Villa Somalia) in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 26. At least six people died in the clashes, including a National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) commander who previously defected from al Shabaab.[8]

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) warplanes struck an al Shabaab training and logistics base in Lagta village, near Kolbio, Lower Jubba region on July 26. Kenyan security forces increased operations targeting al Shabaab along the Kenyan-Somali border in recent weeks to prepare for the country’s general elections on August 8.[9]

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) stated that food security in Somalia is unlikely to improve by the end of the year. UNOCHA also warned that drought conditions will worsen throughout the year.[10]

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting security forces in southern Somalia on July 26. Al Shabaab claimed to raid a Kenyan AMISOM base in Hozingow, Lower Jubba region. The group also detonated an IED targeting an AMISOM convoy near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region on July 26, according to al Shabaab-affiliated social media channels.[11]

[1] “Government forces storm the western gate of Camp Khalid in western Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,; “Breaking: Camp Khalid ibn al Walid under the control of the army and resistance,” Aden Tomorrow, July 26, 2017,; and “The president blesses the army’s victories in Taiz and its full control over Camp Khalid ibn al Walid,” Sabanew, July 26, 2017,
[2] “The commander of the UAE forces is attacking ‘the mismanagement of legitimacy’ and accuses the government of putting obstacles in front of the coalition UAE forces in Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,; AQAP militants kill Hadhrami Elite Forces soldiers, Telegram, July 25, 2017; “Three soldiers killed in an armed ambush by unidentified gunmen in al Dhi’ah, Hadramawt,” Al Masdar Online, July 25, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 20, 2017,   
[3] “A military official says the army has surrounded Sa’ada and that 12 brigades are ready to liberate the province,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,; and “Intensive raids of coalition fighters targeting al Houthi positions in Sa’ada and Hajjah,” Al Masdar Online, July 24, 2017,
[4] “The assassination of an officer and the wounding of a soldier in the city of Taiz and security forces arrest four gunmen south of the province,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,; “A civilian killed by gunmen on a motorcycle in the center of the city of Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, July 26, 2017,; “The son of the military police commander and another soldier were killed in the city of Taiz,” Al Masdar Online,; 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] “Gunmen blew up an oil pipeline,” Barakish, July 26, 2017,; and “The arrest of three suspects in the bombing of the pipeline in al Hudaydah governorate,” Sabanews, April 8, 2017,
[6] Ryan Browne, “First on CNN: Joint US-Somali raid nabs suspected US resident,” CNN,; Garowe Online, Twitter, July 26, 2017,; and “Somalia: Captured al-Shabaab commander may have U.S. residence, officials say,” Garowe Online, July 26, 2017,
[7] Al Shabaab claims attack on SNA-AMISOM convoy near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, Telegram, July 26, 2017; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 26, 2017,
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 26, 2017,; and Radio Dalsan, Twitter, July 26, 2017,
[9] Garowe Online, Twitter, July 26, 2017,
[10] “UN says food security in Somalia unlikely to improve before 2018,” Shabelle News, July 25, 2017,
[11] Al Shabaab claims attacks on security forces in southern Somalia, Telegram, July 26, 2017.

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