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: UAE-backed southern government forms national assembly and plans independence referendum; al Houthi movement leader vilifies the West; Salafi militia withdraws from part of eastern Taiz city, southern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab attack kills over 270 people in Mogadishu; Kenyan police use excessive force against opposition protesters; Kenyan county leader plans to boycott re-run election vote

Yemen Security Brief

Transitional Political Council of the South President Aydarus Qasim al Zubaidi announced the formation of a southern national assembly and an upcoming independence referendum during demonstrations commemorating the October 14 revolution against the British in Aden city, southern Yemen on October 14. The Transitional Political Council of the South is an Emirati-backed governing entity that rivals the internationally recognized Yemeni government in southern Yemen. Zubaidi stated the 303-member national assembly will represent all southern Yemenis. Vice President of the Transitional Political Council of the South Hani Ali Bin Brik added that the assembly will hold its first meeting in November. Southern Yemen activists waved the flags of Kurdistan and Catalonia during the mass rally in Aden.[1]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi stated that submission is not an escape from the forces of tyranny during a speech commemorating Imam Zaid, the 5th imam of the al Houthi movement’s sect of Islam on October 15. Abdul Malik used the history of Imam Zaid to vilify American and Israeli oppression and to remind his audience of the British occupation. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh condemned historical western interference in Yemen and blamed the failure of national unity on British colonialism during a speech commemorating the 54th anniversary celebration of the October 14 revolution.[2] 

The Saudi-led coalition-backed Abu Abbas brigade removed its troops from Taiz University, eastern Taiz city, southern Yemen on October 14. Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government-aligned militias seized the university from al Houthi-Saleh control in May. Abu Abbas leaders initially refused to hand over control to security forces loyal to the Hadi government on October 12. Abu Abbas is a Salafi militia which cooperates with AQAP in Taiz.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile targeting a Saudi military camp in Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 14. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also fired a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at Samta area, Jazan on October 10.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), killing over 270 civilians and wounding over 300 others near the Safari hotel in Hodan district, Mogadishu, Somalia on October 14. This marks al Shabaab’s largest attack since its formation in 2006. Al Shabaab has conducted 12 attacks in Mogadishu since October 1. Militants detonated the VBIEDs near several Somali Federal Government’s offices in Mogadishu’s K5 junction. The blasts severely damaged the Qatari embassy in Mogadishu. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a medical plane to transfer wounded Somalis to hospitals in Turkey.[5] 

Kenyan police used excessive force against opposition protesters, killing over 65 civilians since the August 8 election, according to an October 16 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report. Opposition leader Raila Odinga called for daily demonstrations against Kenya’s electoral commission to protest the commission’s leadership.[6]

Kenya’s Siaya County Assembly Speaker George Okode declared on October 16 that the assembly would block the October 26 re-run election from occurring in the county to force a new election in protest of Kenya’s electoral commission. The Kenyan Constitution requires voting to occur in every precinct for an election to be valid. Kenya’s opposition party controls Siaya county and distrusts the Kenyan electoral commission’s leadership, who administered the nullified August 8 election.[7]

[1] “Southern Yemen leader sees independence referendum, parliament body,” Reuters, October 14, 2017,; “Zubaidi announces formation of national assembly in south,” Aden Tomorrow, October 14, 2017,; “President of the Southern Transitional Council announces establishment of national assembly,” Southern Transitional Council, October 15, 2017,; “Vice President of the Southern Transitional Council announce national assembly in November,” Southern Transitional Council, October 15, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, October 14, 2017,
[2] “The text of the speech of the Leader of the Revolution in memory of the martyrdom of Imam Zaid,” Saba News, October 15, 2017,; and “The text of the speech of the leader Saleh on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the glorious October 14 revolution,” Al Motamar, October 14, 2017,
[3] “Armed factions loyal to the government abandon the University of Taiz,” Aden Lang, October 15, 2017,; “Abu Abbas brigades hand over security of Taiz University,” Al Masdar, October 14, 2017,; “Abu Abbas brigades refuse to hand over security of Taiz University,” Aden Lang, October 12, 2017,; and “Hadi government-aligned security forces take control over Taiz University,” Sada Aden, October 15, 2017,
[4] “Houthis announce the launch of a ballistic missile on a camp for Saudi forces in Jazan,” Al Masdar, October 14, 2017,; and “Ballistic missile demolishes a Saudi camp in Jazan,” Saba News, October 14, 2017,
[5] Hussein Mohamed, Eric Schmitt and Mohamed Ibrahim, “Mogadishu Truck Bombings Are Deadliest Attack in Decades,” New York Times, October 15, 2017,; and “Somalia's 'deadliest attack ever' kills 276, injures 300,” Daily Nation, October 16, 2017,
[6] Tom Odula, “Kenya police killed 67 opposition supporters: Rights groups,” Washington Post, October 16, 2017,
[7] Kevine Omollo, “I will dispatch MCAs to block polls, says assembly speaker,” The Standard. October 16, 2017,

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