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 attack Emirati ship in Mokha port, Taiz governorate, western Yemen; U.S. ambassador to Yemen announces renewed effort to facilitate political negotiations; reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen and Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen; AQAP militants kill al Hizam security forces commander in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Hadi government imports Russian-printed Yemeni riyals; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch offensive to retake Camp Khalid ibn al Walid, Taiz governorate, western Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. airstrike kills al Shabaab governor in Tortorow, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab detonates SVBIED in Mogadishu; al Shabaab threatens to kill Kenyan Muslim members of the security forces; al Shabaab ambushes Ugandan AMISOM in Bulo Marer, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; gunman enters home of Kenya’s Deputy President; KDF warplanes target al Shabaab near Garbaharey, Gedo region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked an Emirati ship with a remote-controlled explosive boat in the Red Sea port of Mokha, Taiz governorate, western Yemen on July 29. The boat detonated after crashing into a pier near the Emirati ship, according to Saudi-led coalition sources. Local sources did not report any casualties. Al Houthi-Saleh media claimed that the Emirati ship was carrying military equipment from the port of Assab, Eritrea. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition condemned the attack for threatening freedom of navigation and impeding the arrival of humanitarian aid to western Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have claimed to target four coalition warships in the Red Sea in the past two months.[1]

U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller announced that the U.S. will lead an effort to resume UN negotiations aimed at reaching a political resolution to the Yemeni conflict during a press conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 30. Tueller accused the al Houthi bloc of impeding peace negotiations and praised former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh for being willing to accept the UN’s al Hudaydah plan. The UN plan proposes a transfer of al Houthi-Saleh controlled al Hudaydah governorate to a neutral third party consisting of representatives from the al Houthi-Saleh faction, President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, and other officials. UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is scheduled to meet soon with the Hadi government and the al Houthi-Saleh faction to discuss his proposed al Hudaydah port plan.[2]

Two reported U.S. airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yemen on July 30 and 31. An airstrike killed five AQAP militants in al Jawba district in western Ma’rib governorate in central Yemen on July 31. An airstrike also targeted a local AQAP commander and multiple militants while they were traveling by car in Mudiyah district in northern Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on July 30, according to local sources. U.S. airstrikes last targeted AQAP militants in Yemen on July 1.[3]

AQAP militants killed an Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces commander in Lawder district in northern Abyan governorate on July 29. The commander, Colonel Nasir Saleh al Ja’ari, led popular committees militias that fought to retake Abyan governorate from AQAP militants in 2012. The Hadi government deployed troops to Lawder city and Shaqra city in Khanfir district in southern Abyan governorate on July 30 to participate in counterterrorism operations in Abyan governorate.  Yemeni security forces withdrew from northern Abyan governorate in early 2017, citing AQAP attacks.[4] 

Russia delivered a fourth shipment of printed Yemeni riyals to Aden city on July 29. The Central Bank of Yemen imported the currency to pay civil servant and security personnel salaries for the months of March and April. The Hadi government has imported three other shipments of Russian-printed Yemeni riyals since June 1. The Hadi government has not paid most government salaries for almost 11 months.[5]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a counter-offensive against Hadi government-aligned forces on July 29 to recapture positions lost on July 27 near Camp Khalid ibn al Walid in western Taiz governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh fighters attacked Hadi government-aligned forces east of the camp in Mawza’ district aiming to gain control of the nearby main roadway. Saudi-led coalition forces also launched five airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Hamli area, Mawza’ district, killing six al Houthi-Saleh fighters.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A U.S. drone strike targeted a member of al Shabaab’s Mogadishu Attack Network in Tortorow,  Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on July 30. The airstrike killed al Shabaab’s governor for the Mogadishu area, Al Mohamed Hussein (Ali Jabal), according to the Somali government. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) stated that the strike was in response to recent attacks on U.S. allies in Somalia. This marks the third AFRICOM airstrike targeting al Shabaab in southern Somalia in July.[7]

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) near a police station in Waberi district in Mogadishu on July 30. The militant detonated the vehicle while stuck in traffic caused by ongoing Mogadishu Stabilization Force search operations in the capital. Al Shabaab initially intended to target the parliament, according to a Somali security official. The attack  killed at least 10 people, including five civilians.[8] 

Al Shabaab released a propaganda video threatening Muslim members of the Kenyan security forces. Ahmad Iman Ali, a Kenyan religious official in al Shabaab, claims that the group will kill Kenyan security officers regardless of their religions. Ali claims Muslims troops will “suffer the likes of the El-Adde attack,” where al Shabaab killed over 60 Kenyan soldiers, if they refuse to distance themselves from the kuffar (disbelievers). The video also features a short speech by al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri justifying targeting Muslim security forces. Al Shabaab released the video titled, “And Whoever of You Does So (Takes as Supporters Those who Prefer Disbelief to Belief), then He is One of the Wrong-doers,” on July 29.[9]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Golweyn village in Bulo Marer district in Lower Shabelle region on July 30. Somali officials claimed that al Shabaab killed nearly 18 AMISOM troops in the ambush. Al Shabaab claimed to kill 39 soldiers, according to the group’s social media network.[10]

A militant attacked the home of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, western Kenya on July 30. The attacker injured a guard with a machete before stealing his firearm and entering the home. The attacker clashed with Kenyan police for several hours until police killed the lone attacker. Deputy President Ruto and his family were traveling outside of Eldoret during the attack.[11]

Kenya Defense Force (KDF) warplanes struck an al Shabaab base near Garbaharey in Gedo region in southern Somalia on July 28. KDF conducted the strike amid escalated security operations targeting al Shabaab along the Kenyan-Somali border ahead of Kenya’s general elections on August 8. Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and National Intelligence Service confirmed that al Shabaab’s intelligence branch, Amniyat, is operating and plotting attacks in eastern Kenya.[12]

[1] “Explosives loaded booby-trapped boat targeted al Mokha port legitimacy supporting coalition, in Yemen,” Saudi Press Agency, July 29, 2017,; “Houthis claim attack on UAE ship off Yemen’s west coast,” Al Jazeera, July 29, 2017,; “The Ministry of Human Rights condemns the coup militias targeting of the port of Mokha,” Sabanew, July 29, 2017,; “Yemen rebels target Mokha port with bomb boat,” The National, July 29, 2017,; and “Yemeni naval force announces the targeting of an Emirati military convoy,” Al Masirah, July 29, 2017,
[2] “He said that the conflict continued to long… U.S. Ambassador to Yemen: we will give room for ‘moderate voices,’” Al Masdar Online, July 30, 2017,; “The U.S. Ambassador: Saleh’s party, expressed tacit approval for Ould Cheikh’s plan to withdraw from al Hudaydah,” Aden Tomorrow, July 30, 2017,; “The American Ambassador to Yemen: ‘al Houthis are the source of undertaking the coup; they possess the weapons and they must return them to the State, and they are still the dilemma,’” Hadramawt; July 30, 2017,; and “UN sources: Ould Cheikh will begin a new round of plans for al Hudaydah port transfer,” Al Masdar Online, July 30, 2017,
[3] “Five al Qaeda members killed in U.S. airstrike in Ma’rib,” Barakish, July 31, 2017,; “Drone strike on al Qaeda operative car in Abyan,” Barakish, July 30, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, July 30, 2017,; and “A drone launched severa raids on militant position in Abyan governorte,” Al Masdar Online, July 2, 2017,
[4] AQAP militants kill al Hizam security forces commander, Telegram, July 29, 2017; “Abyan: Unknown gunmen assassinate al Ja’ari in Lawder city,” Aden Lange, July 29, 2017,; “Troops of the 1st Brigade arrive in Shaqra, Abyan,” Aden Lange, July 30, 2017,; and “Arrival of 103rd Brigade to the Lawder,” Aden Tomorrow, July 31, 2017,
[5] “The arrival of a new batch of national currency printed in Russia to the airport of Aden,” Aden Lange, July 29, 2017,; “Hadi government in Aden will receive new funds,” Aden Tomorrow, July 14, 2017,; “Hadi Government begins a new money printing operation,” Aden Tomorrow, June 9, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEIs Critical Threats Project, June 2, 2017,
[6] “Renewed fighting near the camp Khaled west of Taiz governorate following the intense attacks of intense government forces,” Al Masdar Online, July 29, 2017,; and “Government forces control the largest military base in southwestern Yemen and progress towards the Mokha intersection,” Al Masdar Online, July 27, 2017,
[7] AFRICOM, Twitter, July 31, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 31, 2017,; and Harun Marug, Twitter, July 31, 2017,
[8] Somalia Live Update, Twitter, July 30, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, “Al-Shabab Ambush Kills 18 AU Troops in Somalia,” Voice of America, July 30, 2017,
[9] “Kenyan Shabaab Official Threatens Security Forces, Proponents of Democracy in Video Lecture,” Site Intelligence Group, July 29, 2017, available by subscription at
[10] Harun Maruf, “Al-Shabab Ambush Kills 18 AU Troops in Somalia,” Voice of America, July 30, 2017,
[11] “Kenya police kill gunman at Deputy President Ruto's home,” BBC. July 30, 2017,; and “Gunmen attack Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s residence,” Shabelle News, July 30, 2017,
[12] “KDF jets carry out airstrike on Al shabaab base in Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 29, 2017,; and “Kenyan Police on high alert as Al Shabaab plans attacks,” Shabelle News, July 31, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Aug '17
Jul '17