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: Al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missile toward Mecca region, western Saudi Arabia; Hadi government-aligned forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh fighters in southern Taiz city, western Yemen; Yemeni army deploys counterterrorism forces to Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; AQAP spokesman urges Palestinians to remain resilient; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims to break al Houthi-Saleh siege in northwestern al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Leading Kenyan party denies accusation of planned election rigging; Kenya institutes checkpoints in Lamu County, eastern Kenya; al Shabaab reduces humanitarian aid access; roadside IED targets minister’s convoy in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh media reported that several medium-range “Borkan-1” ballistic missiles targeted King Fahd air base in Ta’if region, western Saudi Arabia on July 27. Saudi air defense systems intercepted and destroyed one missile 69 kilometers south of Mecca. The coalition responded with multiple airstrikes on Sana’a city, including strikes on Khashem al Bakra camp and Daylami air base, northeastern Sana’a. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also claimed to launch a “Qahir-1" ballistic missile toward coalition forces in Mawza’ district, western Taiz governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh forces are intensifying their ballistic missile operations with likely Iranian assistance.[1]  

Hadi government-aligned forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh fighters for control of strategic sites in southern Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, on July 28. Forces aligned with the Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh forces exchanged artillery fire at Salheen hill and Sabar al Mawadim area. Hadi government-aligned forces claimed to seize Salheen hill on July 19. Saudi-led coalition fighters also raided al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Shaqab district, southeastern Taiz city.[2]

Hadi government military forces began preparations to deploy to Abyan governorate in southern Yemen for counterterrorism operations on July 27. The 103rd Infantry Brigade mobilized for its transfer from Aden city to Jahhayn town, southern Lawder district, northwestern Abyan governorate on July 26. The Yemeni army will deploy additional forces to eastern Lawder district. They will join counterterrorism operations led by Emirati-backed security forces in southern Yemen.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) spokesman Khaled Batarfi called on the Muslim community (umma) to resist Israel in a video titled “For You, Oh Aqsa” on July 27. Batarfi urged Palestinians to remain resilient following Israel’s temporary prohibition of prayer at al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. AQAP seeks to provide guidance for the global Salafi-jihadi community.[4] 

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to break an al Houthi-Saleh siege around al Zaharah area, northwestern al Bayda governorate on July 27. ISIS militants frequently cooperate on a tactical level with AQAP fighters against al Houthi-Saleh fighters in central Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan government denied claims by the country’s main opposition party that it intends to use military force to shape the outcome of general elections on August 8. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta seeks to retain the presidency amid a challenge by former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga.[6]

Kenya’s interior ministry mandated police checks for all vehicles entering and exiting Lamu County in eastern Kenya. The measure is a response to a series of al Shabaab attacks in Lamu County, including the beheading of civilians and attacks on security forces.[7]

Al Shabaab intensified a ban on humanitarian aid in its areas of control since June 2017, according to a report by the Guardian. The group had pursued a more moderate approach that allowed aid to reach affected communities in early 2017. Al Shabaab’s crackdown on aid organizations, reportedly due to an internal dispute, is causing malnutrition levels to spike in central and southern Somalia, especially among children.[8] 

Likely al Shabaab militants planted a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) that struck the convoy of Jubbaland Security Minister Abdirashid Hassan Nur “Janan” in Dolow town, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on July 27. Militants detonated the IED by remote control. No casualties were reported. Minister Nur traveled to Gedo region to oversee the execution of four al Shabaab militants on July 23.[9]

[1] “Air defense system intercepts ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias towards Makkah,” Saudi Press Agency, July 27, 2017,; “Breaking: Launch of several ballistic missiles on King Fahd air base,” Sabanews, July 27, 2017,; “Intense raids in Sana’a hours after the al Houthis announce targeting an air base in Ta’if,” Al Masdar Online, July 28, 2017,; “The launch of a Zilzal-2 missile at the camp in Jazan,” Sabanews, July 27, 2017,; and “UAE and Sudanese leaders killed by ballistic missile strike in Mawza’,” Sabanews, July 27, 2017,   
[2] “Heavy fighting in al Shaqab south of Taiz and the coalition bombing militia positions,” Al Masdar Online, July 28, 2017,
[3] “Equipment for a new military campaign against supporters of Terrorism in Abyan,” Aden Lange, July 27, 2017,; and “Preparations to transfer a brigade outside of Aden,” July 26, 2017,
[4] AQAP spokesman Khaled Batarfi calls on Palestinians to remain resilient, Telegram, July 27, 2017.
[5] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 27, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 12, 2017,
[6] Felix Njini, “Kenya denies opposition claim of plot using troops to rig vote,” Bloomberg, July 28, 2017,
[7] “Kenya orders vehicles entering and leaving Lamu get police escorts,” Shabelle News, July 28, 2017,; “Update and Assessment: July 12, 2017,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 12, 2017,
[8] Jason Burke, “Al-Shabaab militants ban starving Somalis from accessing aid,” The Guardian, July 27, 2017,; and Jordan Indermuehle, “Al Shabaab’s Humanitarian Response,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, April 24, 2017,
[9] “Roadside bomb targets convoy carrying Jubbaland minister in Gedo,” Shabelle News, July 28, 2017,

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