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: Three cities run out of clean water as a result of Saudi-led coalition blockade; World Bank and UNOPS grant $150 million to restore basic services in Yemen; Aden governor resigns citing corruption and poor governance; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill civilians in Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan police disrupt opposition demonstration in Nairobi; U.S. announces troop increase in Somalia since May; Somaliland security forces clash with opposition protesters in Togdheer region, Somaliland

Yemen Security Brief

Three cities, Sa’ada, al Hudaydah, and Taiz, have run out of clean water as a result of lack of fuel due to the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of Yemeni ports of entry, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC also warned that Sana’a city will run out of water in two weeks if the blockade is not lifted. Lack of clean water and sanitation in crowded urban areas could lead to a renewed spread of cholera. The UN announced the cholera epidemic was largely contained on October 30, when international aid agencies closed most of the cholera treatment centers in the country. The Saudi-led coalition also blocked an ICRC shipment of chlorine tablets, used to treat cholera, on November 7. The Saudi-led coalition imposed the blockade on November 5 after al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 4.[1] 

The World Bank and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) agreed to grant Yemen $150 million to restore basic services including trash collection, access to electricity, and improving infrastructure on November 16. Uncollected trash and untreated sewage water have contributed to Yemen’s cholera epidemic. Aid agencies have recorded over 900,000 suspected cases of cholera in Yemen and 2,200 associated deaths.[2]

The internationally recognized Hadi government’s governor of Aden Abdul Aziz al Miflahi resigned from his post citing high levels of corruption and poor governance on November 16. Al Mihlafi specifically highlighted the role of Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir in preventing him from improving conditions in Aden city, southern Yemen. Security forces deployed across Aden shortly after Miflahi’s announcement, reportedly to prevent Salafi-jihadi attacks. President Hadi rejected al Mihlafi’s resignation and announced the formation of a security committee to secure the Aden governorate building. Al Miflahi previously accused Daghir of misallocating approximately $20 million on October 29. Daghir appointed Ahmed Salmin Rabi’ as acting governor of Aden on October 31.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) near al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 17. Suspected AQAP militants detonated two IEDs targeting al Hizam forces in Abyan on November 15. AQAP frames its attacks on Emirati-backed forces as in reprisal for security forces abusing the local population.[4]

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed fifteen civilians at two commercial stores in al Jarr area, Abs district, Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen on November 17, according to al Houthi-Saleh news outlets. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed and injured 60 civilians in Hajjah on November 7.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan police disrupted an opposition party demonstration using tear gas and water cannons at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya on November 17. The opposition party called for a massive welcoming party for opposition leader Raila Odinga, who visited the U.S. for 10 days to lobby support for new elections. Police forces established a defensive perimeter around the airport to prevent thousands of opposition supporters from entering the airport. Police also arrested several opposition lawmakers leading supporters through the blockade. The opposition party plans to hold a mass rally calling for a new election in downtown Nairobi on November 17.[6] 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced on November 17 the U.S. has over 500 troops deployed to Somalia to advise and train Somali forces. The U.S. stated in May that only 50 troops were stationed in Somalia. The U.S. also nearly doubled the number airstrikes targeting al Shabaab and ISIS in Somalia in 2017 compared to 2016, including over 15 airstrikes since August 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump authorized the DOD broader authority to conduct airstrikes in Somalia on March 30.[7]

Somaliland security forces killed four opposition protesters while attempting to disperse election-related riots in Burco city, Togdheer region, Somaliland, northern Somalia on November 16 and 17. The rioters also killed one police officer. Opposition leader Abdirhman Irro claimed the November 13 election was fraudulent, sparking mass riots on November 16. Exit polls indicated that the majority party candidate Muse Bihi Abdi will win the presidential election. International election observers stated the vote was free and fair with only minor irregularities. Irro called for peaceful protests and an end to rioting.[8]

[1] “Agreement signed for $150 million project to support Yemen’s cholera-affected cities,” UNOPS, November 16, 2017,; and “World Bank approves $150 million to restore services in Yemeni cities,” Reuters, November 16, 2017,
[2] “Yemen: Border closure shuts down water, sewage systems, raising cholera risk,” ICRC, November 17, 2017,; and “Three Yemeni cities run out of clean water due to lack of fuel for pumps: ICRC,” Reuters, November 17, 2017,
[3] Abdul Aziz al Mihlafi, Facebook, November 16, 2017,; “Aden governor resigns,” Aden Lang, November 16, 2017,; “Aden governor resigns due to government corruption,” Al Masdar, November 16, 2017,; Murad Abdu, Facebook, November 16, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, November 16, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, November 16, 2017,
[4] Demolinari, Twitter, November 17, 2017,; “IED explosion in Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, November 17, 2017,; “IED fails to kill al Hizam commander,” Aden Lang, November 17, 2017,; and AQAP detonates IED in Mahfad, Telegram, November 17, 2017.
[5] “Civilians killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Hajjah,” Khabar Agency, November 16, 2017,; “Civilians killed in airstrikes in Abs district, Hajjah governorate,” Saba News, November 17, 2017,; “New airstrikes kill civilians in shops in Hajjah,” Al Motamar, November 17, 2017,; and “15 dead in coalition airstrikes in Hajjah,” Yemen Today, November 27, 2017,
[6]  Ibrahim Oruko And Silas Apollo, “Raila Odinga lands at JKIA amid chaos in Nairobi,” Daily Nation, November 17, 2017,; and Chaos and gunshots as Raila Odinga enters Nairobi CBD,” Daily Nation, November 17, 2017,
[7] Lucas Tomlinson, “Hundreds more US troops now in Somalia, but Pentagon denies 'build up',” Fox News, November 17, 2017,; US Military Steps Up Somalia Drone Strikes,” Radio Shabelle, November 17, 2017,; and Reuters, March 30, 2017,
[8] “Five dead in Somaliland protests over election fraud claim,” Garowe Online, November 17, 2017,

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