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: AQAP official helps mediate conflict between Hadi government-aligned militias in Taiz city, central Yemen; Iranian naval forces interdict pirate attack in Gulf of Aden; President Hadi appoints new al Mahrah governor in eastern Yemen; gunmen attack southern resistance leader in Aden city, southern Yemen; AQAP militants detonate IED targeting Emirati-backed commander in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sworn in for second term; U.S. conducts airstrike against ISIS in Puntland, northeastern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes two convoys near Somali-Kenyan border

Yemen Security Brief

A local senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official participated in mediation efforts after two Hadi government-aligned militias clashed in Taiz city, central Yemen on November 25. Senior AQAP official Harith al A'azzi attended a meeting run by Deputy Governor of Taiz A'arf Jamal to mediate a conflict between the Abu Abbas Brigade, a Salafi militia that reportedly facilitated AQAP’s entrance into the city, and a rival militia.[1] 

Iranian naval forces interdicted a pirate attack targeting an Iranian merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of the Yemeni-Omani border on November 26. Iran’s 48th fleet dispersed the pirates with an Alvand destroyer and Lavan logistic warship. Iran’s 48th fleet deployed to the Gulf to provide security for commercial ships and oil tankers on September 2.[2]

Internationally recognized President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Rajeh Said Bakrit as governor of al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on November 27, replacing Mohammed Abdullah Kuddah. Bakrit previously worked to counter smuggling in al Mahrah and has spent time in Abu Dhabi. President Hadi appointed Kuddah as Minister of State and a member of the Council of Ministers. The Saudi-led coalition began efforts to counter smuggling through eastern Yemen in mid-November.[3]

Gunmen attacked southern resistance leader Adib al Issa at his home with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms, wounding al Issa and killing two others in al Basatin area, Dar Saad district, Aden governorate, southern Yemen on November 27. A house guard dismantled an improvised explosive device (IED) planted near al Issi’s home earlier on November 27.[4]

AQAP militants detonated IEDs targeting Commander of the Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate Abdul Latif al Sayyed in Talil area, eastern Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 28. Al Hizam forces arrested several AQAP militants in Mahfad on November 26.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta began his second five-year term on November 28. President Kenyatta won the October 26 re-run election, which the opposition party boycotted, with approximately 98% of the vote. The Kenyan Supreme Court upheld the election on November 20. The opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) party held a memorial rally for victims of police brutality during Kenyatta’s inauguration ceremony. NASA had previously planned a rival inauguration ceremony to swear in opposition leader Raila Odinga as president, but postponed it to December 12 after initial concerns over the constitution and Odinga’s international reputation. Police killed three opposition protesters while dispersing the opposition rally. Supporters of Kenyatta’s majority party also rioted outside of the inauguration venue in response to the absence of promised overflow viewing screens.[6]

U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting ISIS militants in Puntland, northeastern Somalia on November 27. The airstrike killed one ISIS militant near the Galgala Mountains in Bari region. The U.S. began airstrikes against an ISIS-affiliated group in northern Somalia, which has approximately 200 members, in November.[7] 

Al Shabaab ambushed civilian and military convoys near the Somali-Kenyan border on November 28. Al Shabaab ambushed five passenger buses with Kenyan police escorts along Garsen-Lamu highway, Lamu county, southeastern Kenya, injuring two officers. Al Shabaab also ambushed a Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) convoy traveling from Dhoobley to Taabda along the Dadaab-Bili Qooqani highway in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia. Al Shabaab militants raided a Somali National Army (SNA) and KDF base in Dhoobley on November 23.[8]

[1] “More than six dead and wounded in bloody confrontation in Taiz, Yemen,” Arabi 21, November 25, 2017,; and Mohammed Abdulbaqi, Facebook, November 27, 2017,
[2] “Iran Naval Forces Repel Pirate Attack On Merchant Vessel In Gulf Of Aden,” Radio Shabelle, November 27, 2017,; and “48th fleet of Iranian Navy sets sail for high seas,” Iranian Students’ News Agency, September 3, 2017,
[3] “A republic decree appointing Mohammed Kuddah as Minister of state and Rajeh Bakrit as Governor of Mahrah,” President Hadi, November 27, 2017,; “Rajeh Bakrit is Governor of al Mahrah governorate,” Al Mahrah News, November 27, 2017,; and “Who is the new governor of al Mahrah?” Hadramout, November 27, 2017,
[4] “The injury of the leader of the resistance of Aden Adib al Issa and the killing of his relative in an attack targeting their home,” Al Masdar, November 28, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, November 27, 2017,
[5] “Salvation leader Abdul Latif al Sayyed escaped an assassination attempt in Mahfad,” Aden Tomorrow, November 28, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, November 28, 2017,
[6] “Kenyatta sworn in as president of Kenya,” Al Jazeera, November 28, 2017,; “Kenyan election: Kenyatta sworn in amid high security and opposition rally,” Deutsche Welle, November 28, 2017,; Vivere Nandiemo, “Nasa supporters irked as Raila Odinga turns down oath plan,” Daily Nation, November 27, 2017,; Rael Ombuor, “Kenyatta sworn in as Kenya’s president as opposition rally hit by tear gas,” Washington Post, November 28, 2017,; and Mercy Asamba, “Police seal off Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi ahead of NASA rally,” The Standard, November 28, 2017,
[7] “U.S. conducts airstrike in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM, November 27, 2017,
[8] Garowe Online, Twitter, November 28, 2017,; and Garowe Online, Twitter, November 28, 2017,

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