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: Southern council president announces plan to form new political and security structure; AQAP militants coordinate with tribal militias against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; AQAP spokesman releases new video; U.S. Treasury lifts freeze on Yemen’s foreign currency reserves; Saudi-led coalition warplanes target al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Yemen; international donors pledge food aid to Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab clashes with SNA troops at checkpoint in Balad, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab continues assassination campaign in Somalia; likely al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting security forces in Bardale town, Bay region; Somali security agencies to help reintegrate ex-militants; Puntland military court sentences al Shabaab militants

Yemen Security Brief

The president of the Transitional Political Council for the South, Aydarus al Zubaidi, announced an effort to consolidate the southern political and security structure at a rally for southern independence on July 7. The Transitional Political Council, which formed in May 2017, aims to form a southern Yemeni polity. Al Zubaidi also affirmed the Council’s prohibition of Muslim Brotherhood activities in the south. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir, who has criticized the Council, announced his support for the right of the Southern Movement to demonstrate peacefully within the limits of the law.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in Dhi Na’im, central al Bayda governorate on July 6. AQAP released a photoset of the attack that showed B10 rockets, 82mm mortars, and 23mm machine guns. Tribal militias also attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im on July 6. AQAP is strengthening its relationship with Yemen’s tribes by fighting alongside tribal militias against the al Houthi-Saleh faction.[2] 

AQAP spokesman Khaled Batarfi released the tenth video in his series “Stories of the Prophets.” He relayed the story of Abraham and Ishmael to emphasize the importance of love for God and obedience toward one’s parents. Batarfi released the ninth episode in the series, titled “Kindness in Proselytizing Parents,” on July 4. Batarfi urged Muslims to be patient and kind when calling their parents to Islam. Batarfi’s video series is intended to market AQAP’s ideology to Yemen’s Sunni population.[3]

The U.S. Treasury lifted the freeze on Yemen’s foreign currency reserves following the launch of the Central Bank of Yemen’s financial transfer system (SWIFT) in Aden city on July 6. Sudan provided technical assistance for the new system. The U.S. froze the Yemeni government’s access to foreign currency accounts in the U.S. Federal Reserve following the transfer of the Central Bank from Sana’a city to Aden city in October 2016. Hadi government officials claimed that the Central Bank will now be able to distribute government salaries. The Hadi government has not paid many salaries for nearly ten months.[4]

Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Yemen on July 7. Coalition warplanes launched 17 airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Wazi’iyah and Maqbanah districts, Taiz governorate. The strikes killed 13 al Houthi-Saleh fighters, including three commanders. Coalition warplanes killed two al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Dawran Anas district, northern Dhamar governorate. Coalition warplanes also destroyed al Houthi-Saleh weapons stores on Kamaran Island, al Hudaydah governorate.[5]

International donors pledged monetary assistance to combat malnutrition in Yemen. The European Union donated approximately $27 million to the United Nations Development Programme on July 6. The Japanese government announced a $5 million food aid grant to UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Japanese non-governmental organizations on July 7. The UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, stressed the need for stable access to food to reduce cholera susceptibility. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on July 5 that 275,987 suspected cholera cases have caused 1,634 deaths since April 27.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab clashed with Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers at a checkpoint in Balad, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on July 7. Al Shabaab killed two SNA soldiers in the attack. Balad is located along a main road that connects Mogadishu to Jowhar, the capital of Middle Shabelle region.[7]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated a tribal elder named as Abdullahi Ahmed outside of Mogadishu, Somalia on July 7. Gunmen shot Ahmed before fleeing the scene. Al Shabaab militants also detonated a car bomb that killed a prominent businessman in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on July 6. The assassination of Abdirazaq Muse Nur, who was also a governing committee member in Galkayo, marks the fifth assassination in the city in one week.[8]

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting regional security forces in Bardale town, Bay region, southern Somalia. The IED failed to strike the passing vehicle and did not inflict any casualties.[9]

National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and Somali police will screen militants who want to reintegrate into society. The monitoring program, which is supported by UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM), is based on models used in Austria, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.[10]

A Puntland military court sentenced five al Shabaab militants in Boosaaso, Bari region, Somalia on July 6. Judge Awil Ahmed Farah sentenced two militants to death three to life imprisonment. The court also acquitted three suspects due to lack of evidence. Puntland security forces executed seven al Shabaab militants on June 30.[11]

[1] “Speech of the Transitional Political Council President on the Twenty-Third Anniversary of the Military Invasion of the South,” Aden Lange, July 7, 2017,; “Southerners gather in al Mualla district and perform Friday prayers,” Aden Lange, July 7, 2017,; “The Prime Minister supports the right of the Southern Movement to demonstrate peacefully within the limits of law and order,” Sabanew, July 6, 2017,; and “Bin Daghir Warns of ‘Foolish Conflict’ in Aden and Addresses ‘Returnees’: Keep Hadi or Brace for the Houthis,” Al Masdar Online, July 4, 2017,
[2] AQAP shells al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, July 7, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 7, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, July 7, 2017,
[3] AQAP releases the tenth video in “Stories of the Prophets” series, Telegram, July 7, 2017; and AQAP releases the ninth video in “Stories of the Prophets” series, Telegram, July 4, 2017.
[4] “The Yemeni government is preparing to operate the central bank after lifting the ban on foreign exchange reserves abroad,” Al Masdar Online, July 6, 2017,; “U.S. Treasury Department lifts ban on Yemeni government’s financial accounts,” Mareb Press, July 6, 2017,; and “Yemen’s Central Bank restarts financial transfers from Aden with Sudanese technical assistance,” Al Masdar Online, July 6, 2017,
[5] “Fifteen al Houthi-Saleh Militants Killed in Coalition Raids,” Akhbar Alaan, July 7, 2017,; and “The Arab Alliance Destroys a Shipment of al Houthi-Saleh weapons in al Hudaydah,” Hadramawt Net, July 7, 2017,
[6] “European Union and UNDP support social protection for community resilience in Yemen,” United Nations Development Programme, July 6, 2017,; “Japan offers Yemen $5 million grant,” Sabanew, July 7, 2017,; Shuaib Almosawa and Nour Youssef, “Cholera Spreads as War and Poverty Batter Yemen,” The New York Times, July 7, 2017,; and WHO Yemen, Twitter, July 5, 2017,
[7] Somalia Live Update, July 7, 2017,; Al Shabaab claims attack on SNA checkpoint, Telegram, July 7, 2017.
[8] Somalia Live Update, Twitter, July 7, 2017,; “Somalia: Businessman dies in bomb blast in Galkayo,” Garowe Online, July 6, 2017,
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 7, 2017,
[10] “Somalia to screen disengaged ex-Al-Shabaab militants,” Xinhuanet, July 7, 2017,
[11] “Somalia: Military court issues death sentences to al-Shabaab suspects,” Garowe Online, July 6, 2017,; and “Al-Shabaab Militants Executed in Somalia’s Puntland,” IOL, June 30, 2017, .

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