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 Crown Prince states Iranian supply of rockets to al Houthi movement constitutes an act of military aggression; UN implores Saudi-led coalition to end blockade on Yemen; ISIS attacks al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Emirati-backed security forces deploy troops to Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; senior AQAP cleric discusses importance of education and criticizes Yemeni jihadists

Horn of Africa: AMISOM ambassador announces withdrawal of 1,000 troops by December 31; AMISOM forces begin mission to secure strategic highway in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants ambush Kenyan police in Mandera county, Kenya 

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that Iranian supplying of rockets to al Houthi-Saleh forces is an act of direct military aggression and may be considered an act of war during a telephone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on November 7. Saudi Arabia intercepted an al Houthi-Saleh Borkan-2H missile fired from Yemen over Riyadh on November 4. Saudi officials posited on November 5 that Iranian proxy Hezbollah played a first hand role in firing the missile from within al Houthi-Saleh territory, constituting an act of war by Lebanon.[1]

The UN implored the Saudi-led coalition to open an aid lifeline to bring in critical humanitarian relief on November 7. The Saudi-led coalition prevented aid shipments from entering Yemen after implementing a temporary blockade on all land, air, and sea ports on November 6 to stem Iranian arms smuggling into the country. UN World Food Program Head David Beasley stated that even a temporary blockade will create the most devastating humanitarian crisis in decades. The UN also urged ships docked at al Hudaydah port to vacate immediately.[2] 

Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants attacked multiple al Houthi-Saleh positions with medium and small arms between al Jamid and Hama areas, al Quraishyah district, northwest al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on November 5. ISIS claimed to cut off a supply route and seize arms. ISIS has not claimed an attack in al Bayda since mid-August. U.S. airstrikes killed at least 60 ISIS militants at two training camps in northwest al Bayda on October 16.[3]

A battalion of Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces deployed to al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen for a long-term deployment on November 7. Al Hizam security forces raided an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) camp named Sheikh Osama bin Laden in northwest al Mahfad district on October 31. Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces and al Hizam security forces launched a joint counterterrorism effort in Mahfad town on October 29.[4]

AQAP judge and senior cleric Abu al Bara al Ibbi discussed the importance of good teachers in the fifth edition of ‘Reasons for the Setbacks: Poor Education’ released on November 6. Al Ibbi also criticized the new generation of Yemeni jihadists for being more interested in nasheeds, or Islamic chants, than reading the Qur’an. Al Ibbi released the last edition of the series criticizing AQAP’s leadership on November 1.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Ambassador Francisco Madiera announced 1,000 AMISOM forces will withdraw from Somalia by December 31. Madiera stated the withdrawal will be incremental and conditional to Somalia’s security. The United Nations Security Council approved a gradual reduction of AMISOM forces on August 31 to withdraw 500 troops by the end of 2017.[6] 

AMISOM forces began securing the Wanlaweyn-Mogadishu highway on November 6. America’s Baledogle forward operating base lies along the Wanlaweyn-Mogadishu highway in the Lower Shabelle region. U.S. advisers train Somali National Army (SNA) forces at the base. SNA forces also killed five al Shabaab militants and detained seven others during raids clearing al Shabaab hideouts along the Afgoi-Balcad highway near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on November 6. The Afgoi-Balcad highway intersects the Wanlaweyn-Mogadishu highway. SNA commander Omar Dhere stated the raids precede a larger operation aimed at clearing all al Shabaab territory in Lower and Middle Shabelle.[7]  

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan police convoy escorting a passenger bus near Daba city, Mandera county, northeast Kenya on November 6. The militants reportedly used a rocket-propelled grenade and an improvised explosive device (IED) to destroy the vehicles. Al Shabaab claimed to kill fifteen officers in the attack but Kenyan police reported only one injury. This marks al Shabaab’s first attack in Mandera county since August.[8]


[1] “Crown Prince Receives Telephone Call from British Foreign Secretary,” Saudi Press Agency, November 7, 2017, http://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1685184; “Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war on it,” Reuters, November 6, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics-saudi/saudi-arabia-says-lebanon-has-declared-war-on-it-idUSKBN1D62NQ; “Coalition Spokesman: Iran provided Houthis with ballistic missiles,” Saudi Gazette, November 6, 2017, http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/521147/SAUDI-ARABIA/Coalition-Spokesman-Iran-provided-Houthis-with-ballistic-missiles; and Becky Anderson and Hilary Clarke, “Missile attack 'an act of war' by Iran, Saudi Foreign Minister says,” CNN, November 6, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/middleeast/saudi-foreign-minister-interview/index.html.
[2] “UN calls for Saudi-led coalition to re-open aid lifeline to Yemen,” Reuters, November 7, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-un/u-n-calls-for-saudi-led-coalition-to-re-open-aid-lifeline-to-yemen-idUSKBN1D71BM; “Saudis tighten Yemen blockade, flights grounded,” The Washington Post, November 7, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/yemeni-spokesman-threatens-to-attack-saudi-uae-airports/2017/11/07/3a841076-c39f-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html?utm_term=.761bda6c66c7; and “The Latest: UN official warns of famine threat for Yemen,” Associated Press, November 7, 2017, https://apnews.com/00ce69425bbe423eb55b2a89458806ae/The-Latest:-UN-official-warns-of-famine-threat-for-Yemen?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP.
[3] “Al Qaeda attacks a site of the popular committees in central Yemen,” Khabar Agency, November 7, 2017, https://khabaragency.net/news91256.html; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 6-7, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/927606323654651906.
[4] Demolinari, Twitter, November 7, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/927846862404464642; Demolinari, Twitter, November 7, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/925389939373629440; and Al Hizam Security Forces of Aden, Facebook, November 7, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/saqraden2017/videos/1953974311596301/.
[5] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 6, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/927598868979703808; Joshua Koontz, Twitter, November 6, 2017, https://twitter.com/JoshuaKoontz__/status/927579551189950465; and Fifith Reason for the Setbacks: Poor Education, Telegram, November 6, 2017.
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 7, 2017, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/927836480394887168; and “The Situation in Somalia Security Council Meeting,” UN, August 31, 2017, http://webtv.un.org/watch/the-situation-in-somalia-security-council-8035th-meeting/5557569418001/.  
[7] Harun Maruf, “AMISOM Launches Attack Against Al-Shabab in Somalia,” VOA, November 7, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/amisom-launches-attack-against-al-shabab-in-somalia/4103604.html; and “5 Al-Shabaab Militants Killed, 7 Others Arrested In S. Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, November 6, 2017, http://radioshabelle.com/5-al-shabaab-militants-killed-7-others-arrested-s-somalia/.
[8] “Kenyan police officer missing after suspected al Shabaab attack,” Radio Shabelle, November 7, 2017, http://radioshabelle.com/kenyan-police-officer-missing-suspected-al-shabaab-attack/; and “Al Shabaab claims attack on police in Mandera, Kenya,” Telegram, November 7, 2017. 

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