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 airstrikes kill civilians in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen; Hadi government forces seize strategic al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sana’a governorate, northern Yemen; Hadi government forces arrest Australian student in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen; Hadi government forces down al Houthi-Saleh reconnaissance drone in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali security forces arrest suspected al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu; Kenyan Supreme Court plans to hear petitions on re-run election validity; U.S. oversight office announces concerns over Somali aid

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed at least 26 civilians in a hotel and at a market near the Saudi Arabian border in Sahar district, Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on November 1. Al Houthi-Saleh news outlets reported the airstrikes killed at least 30 civilians, and called on the international community to condemn the Saudi-led coalition. Sa’ada is the historic stronghold of the al Houthi movement.[1]

Hadi government forces seized control of 20 al Houthi-Saleh sites in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate, northern Yemen on October 31, according to Yemeni Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier General Abdu Majali. Hadi government-aligned news outlets reported that the Hadi government now controls an important supply route linking al Houthi-Saleh territories in the northern governorates. An al Houthi-affiliated news outlet reported heavy fighting but no loss of territory in Nihm district.[2] 

Gunmen dressed in military fatigues seized Australian student Mohammed Ali al Baghdadi at an Islamic school on charges of belonging to a Salafi-jihadi group in Tarim city, central Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on November 1. The school sent an official letter to the governor of Hadramawt stating gunmen beat and abducted al Baghdadi. Some local sources report that the gunmen were Hadi government First Military Region troops from Camp al Suwayri, south of Tarim city.[3]

Hadi government-aligned forces downed an al Houthi-Saleh reconnaissance drone in Maris area, Qa’atabah district, al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on October 31. Hadi government-aligned tribal forces downed a similar al Houthi-Saleh drone in al Qurayshiyah district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 30.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali security forces raided suspected al Shabaab hideouts in the Wardhigley, Bondhere and Yaqshid districts of Mogadishu, Somalia on November 1 in response to recent vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks in the city. Somali authorities arrested over twenty suspected militants in the raids.[5]  

The Kenyan Supreme Court announced on November 1 it will hear two petitions challenging the legitimacy of the October 26 re-run election within the next two weeks. Opposition leader Raila Odinga formed a new legislative body to challenge the majority government on October 31 and called on supporters to protest for a new, credible election. The opposition party boycotted the re-run election and prevented voting in four counties, reducing total turnout to 34% compared to over 80% in the August 8 nullified election. The Kenyan Constitution requires an election in each precinct for a valid election.[6]

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General announced the State Department’s Africa bureau failed to monitor U.S. financial support for the Somali Federal Government (SFG), placing the program at risk for al Shabaab intercepting the funds. The Inspector General’s office also stated the funds do not comply with U.S. laws that prohibit funding foreign militaries without proper screening for human rights abuses. Al Shabaab often intercepts and distributes aid within its territories to increase public support.[7]  

[1] “Saudi-led air strike kills 26 people in Yemen: medics,” Reuters. November 1, 2017,; “At least 20 civilians killed in a coalition airstrike targeting a market in Sahar, Sa’ada,” Al Masdar, November 1, 2017,; “The General People’s Congress strongly condemns the massacre in Sa’ada,” Al Motamar, November 1, 2017,; “30 civilians killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes,” Saba News, November 1, 2017,; and “29 dead and 28 wounded in airstrikes in Sa’ada,” Al Masirah, November 1, 2017,
[2] “Yemeni army declares declares liberating 20 East Sanaa sites from Houthi control,” Al Arabiya, November 1, 2017,; “National Army frees 18 sites and kills 34 al Houthi-Saleh troops in Nihm, Sana’a,” Saba New, October 31, 2017,; “Government forces control military positions in Nihm district, northeast of Sana’a city,” Al Masdar, October 31, 2017,; “Yemeni army announces liberation of 20 sites east of Sana’a,” Aden Tomorrow, November 1, 2017,; “Death of Saudi-led coalition brigade commander in Nihm, Sa’ada,” Al Motamar, November 1, 2017,; and “Attacks on Hadi government forces in Nihm, Sa’ada,” Yemen Today, October 31, 2017,
[3] “Dar al Mustafa in Tarim, Hadramawt reveals the details of the Astralian student’s arrest,” Barakish, November 1, 2017,; “Dar al Mustafa confirms the abduction of an Australian student from a military force and use of violence against him,” Hadramawt Net, November 1, 2017,; “A Yemeni military force raided Dar al Mustafa, taking a foreign student and terrifying citizens,” Shabwah Press, November 1, 2017,; “Hadi forces arrest Australian from Dar al Mustafa,” Al Arabi, November 1, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, November 1, 2017,
[4] “Hadi government-aligned forces down an al Houthi reconnaissance drone in Maris, al Dhaleh,” Al Masdar, October 31, 2017,; and “National Army downs a spy drone,” Saba New, October 31, 2017,
[5] “Somali Forces Carry Out Massive Security Sweep In Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, November 1, 2017,
[6] Hamza Mohamed, “Kenya faces further poll challenges as divisions remain,” Al Jazeera, November 1, 2017,
[7] Kevin J. Kelley, “US funds for Somalia could be diverted to Shabaab, watchdog warns,” Daily Nation, November 1, 2017,

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