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: WHO reports over 120 cases of diphtheria in Yemen; Transitional Political Council of the South inaugurates local leadership in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; reported U.S. airstrike kills three AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; suspected AQAP militants detonate IEDs in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; ISIS militants shell al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missiles toward Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan Supreme Court upholds re-run election; rival ethnic clan and police kill 31 civilians in Nairobi, Kenya; al Shabaab captures town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Over 120 cases of diphtheria and 14 related deaths have been registered in Yemen, according to a World Health Organization report on November 18. UNICEF stated it only has 15 days of diphtheria vaccinations left due to the Saudi-led coalition blockade preventing the entry of vital humanitarian aid. 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]

President of the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) Aydarus al Zubaydi inaugurated the STC’s local leadership in Zinjibar city, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 18. The STC rivals the internationally recognized Hadi government and seeks southern independence. Commander of the Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate Abdul Latif al Sayyed welcomed the STC’s presence in Abyan. Hadi government-aligned Abyan Governor Abu Bakr Hussein denounced the establishment of STC activity in Zinjibar. The STC inaugurated offices in seven other governorates since announcing the formation of a southern National Assembly on October 14.[2]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed three suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in a training camp in Yakla village, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on November 19. A U.S. Special Operations Forces ground raid on an AQAP stronghold in Yakla in January resulted in the death of one U.S. service member.[3] 

Suspected AQAP militants detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 19 and 20. AQAP militants detonated an IED near an al Hizam security checkpoint in al Suwad area, al Wade’a district on November 19. AQAP militants also detonated two IEDs targeting an al Hizam supply vehicle in al Mahfad district on November 20. AQAP frames its attacks against al Hizam Security Forces as in reprisal for transgressions against the local population.[4]

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed its militants shelled al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sablat al Jaram in northwestern al Bayda governorate on November 20. No ISIS militants are visible in the photos ISIS released along with the claim. ISIS last attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in northwestern al Bayda governorate on November 15.[5]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired two ballistic missiles toward Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on November 20, according to a southern news source. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched the missiles from a military base in Dhala’a area, Hamdan district, Sana’a governorate. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted eight sites in Hamdan on November 19, according to al Houthi-Saleh news outlets. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also killed 10 civilians in a private residence in al Hijah area, al Maslub district, al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on November 19.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the October 26 re-run election on November 20. The Supreme Court declared that the two petitions filed by activists and a former independent lawmaker did not provide sufficient evidence of voting irregularities nor sufficiently support the call for a fresh nominations process before the re-run election. Opposition leader Raila Odinga stated the court ruled under pressure by the majority government and that he would not accept the results of the re-run election. Chief Justice David Maraga will inaugurate incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy on November 28.[7] 

Suspected rival ethnic clan members killed 13 civilians with small-arms in the Baba Dogo slum, Nairobi, Kenya on November 19. The victims were members of the opposition’s various ethnic communities, including the main Luo tribe. Members of the slum demonstrated against police brutality and police not defending their ethnic communities before the violence occurred. Kenyan police killed 18 demonstrators on November 18 during a mass rally welcoming Opposition leader Raila back to Kenya. Deputy President William Ruto called on police to defend all ethnic communities and condemned recent ethnic and police violence. Odinga accused the majority party of organizing the violence in the slum and threatened to refer the majority party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC charged President Kenyatta with crimes against humanity in 2012 for his alleged incitement of ethnic tensions during the 2007 election. Odinga fled Kenya to Zanzibar, Tanzania due to personal security concerns on November 19.[8]

Al Shabaab militants captured Geed Faqi town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on November 20.  Al Shabaab captured Basra, Lower Shabelle on November 10, a town two miles from Geed Faqi. Al Shabaab is launching a counteroffensive against the government to capture territory in Lower Shabelle.[9]

[1] WHO Yemen, Twitter, November 18, 2017,; “A new disease spreading in Yemen,” Aden Lang, November 19, 2017,; “New disease as dangerous as cholera,” Aden Tomorrow, November 19, 2017,; and “Yemen: 12 days into the blockade,” Reliefweb, November 17, 2017,
[2] “President Zubaydi inaugurates the STC in Abyan,” Southern Transitional Council, November 18, 2017,; “Abdul Latif al Sayyed: We welcome the leadership of the Transitional Council in Abyan and we will be at the forefront of their future,” Aden Lang, November 17, 2017,; and “The STC ignores the threats of the Abyan governor and organizes a mass rally in Zinjibar,” Erem News, November 18, 2017,
[3] Demolinari, Twitter, November 20, 2017,; and “Three AQAP militants dead in U.S. airstrike,” Aden Lang, November 20, 2017,
[4] “A soldier of al Hizam was killed and two were wounded in an explosion in al Mahfad, Abyan,” Al Masdar, November 20, 2017,; “Heavy bombing rocking Mahfad city in Abyan governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, November 20, 2017,; “Explosive device explodes near security barrier,” Aden Lang, November 19, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, November 19, 2017,
[5] Demolinari, Twitter, November 20, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 20, 2017,
[6] “Houthis launch ballistic missiles toward Ma’rib,” Al Masdar, November 20, 2017,; “Civilians killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in al Jawf,” Al Masdar, November 19, 2017,; “Civilians killed in massacre in al Jawf,” Al Motamar, November 19, 2017,; “11 civilians dead in al Jawf,” Yemen Today, November 19, 2017,; “Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Sana’a,” Al Motamar, November 20, 2017,; and “At least 6 civilians dead in airstrikes in Sana’a,” Yemen Today, November 20, 2017,
[7] Jina Moore, “Kenya Court Upholds President’s Election Win,” New York Times, November 20, 2017,; and Kenfrey Kiberenge, “Raila Odinga: Uhuru Kenyatta is still an illegitimate president,” Daily Nation, November 20, 2017,
[8] “Post-Election Unrest In Kenya Also Stems From Tribe Tensions,” NPR, November 19, 2017,; “Slum killings spark clashes, tension in Nairobi,” Daily Nation, November 19, 2017,; and “Ruto asks police to rein in violence,” Daily Nation, November 19, 2017,
[9] “Al Shabaab Retakes Fresh Location From Somali Govt Forces,” Radio Shabelle, November 20, 2017,

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