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: U.S. airstrikes kill ISIS militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition-backed Abu Abbas brigade clashes with Hadi government-aligned militants in Taiz governorate, southern Yemen; Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated forces suppress demonstrations in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen; Emirati-backed security forces release Islah party member from prison in Aden governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenya’s opposition leader warns of secession debate; Kenyan High Court judge lifts business district protest ban; foreign governments send medical aid to Mogadishu after deadly blast

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. airstrikes killed dozens of Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants in two training camps in Wald Rabi’ district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 16. Local sources report that eight strikes hit camp Abu Bilal al Harbi in Yakla area and four hit camp Abu Mohammed al Adnani in al Abel area. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda released a photo set of its militants training in camp al Adnani on October 9. A U.S. Special Operations Forces ground raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) stronghold in Yakla resulted in the death of one U.S. service member in January 2017.[1] 

Saudi-led coalition-backed Abu Abbas brigade militants clashed with Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government-aligned militants led by Hashem al Sana’ani after al Sana’ani refused to cede control of a post office in Taiz city, southern Yemen on October 16. Local sources state that al Sana’ani allowed ISIS militants to use the post office as a headquarters. Abu Abbas is a Salafi militia which cooperates with AQAP in Taiz.[2]

Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party security forces suppressed demonstrators protesting the appointment of Abdul Malik al Madani as Security Director of Ma’rib Governorate in Ma’rib city on October 16. The Hadi government appointed al Madani on October 12. Al Madani reportedly has connections to the Abdul Malik al Houthi family. The security forces killed two civilians and injured five others.[3]

Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces released the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party from prison in Aden city, southern Yemen on October 17. Al Hizam forces arrested 11 Islah party members allegedly connected to the assassination of a Salafi imam on October 11 and 12, and gunmen set fire to the Islah party headquarters on October 13.[4]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga stated on October 17 the Kenyan political crisis and decades of ethnic discrimination has ignited discussions about secession. Opposition leader Odinga, a member of the Luo ethnic community, expressed concern over the concentration of power between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups who have dominated Kenyan politics since the country’s independence in 1963. Odinga withdrew from the October 26 re-run election due to concerns over its credibility. The opposition party also called for the replacement of the Kenyan electoral commission’s leadership due to distrust from the nullified election.[5] 

A judge in the Kenyan High Court temporarily removed the ban on protests in Kenyan business districts on October 17. Riot police killed several opposition protesters attempting to enter city business districts since Interior Secretary Fred Matiangi initiated the ban last week. Opposition supporters have demonstrated daily against the Kenyan electoral commission’s leadership for not instituting reforms the opposition demanded since the nullified August 8 election.[6] 

The U.S., Kenya, Djibouti, and Qatar delivered humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Mogadishu, Somalia on October 17, in response to the October 14 Mogadishu vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack that killed over 270 civilians. Turkey transported 35 victims from the bombing to Ankara for medical treatment on October 16. No group claimed responsibility but al Shabaab likely conducted the VBIED attack.[7]

[1] “US Forces Conduct Strike against ISIS Training Camps in Yemen,” U.S. Department of Defense, October 16, 2017,; “Fighters believed to be US drones launched 12 raids on sites in Wald Rabi’, al Bayda governorate,” Al Masdar, October 16, 2017,; and “US fighter jets launched a raid on al Qaeda sites in central Yemen and killed a number of al Qaeda fighters,” Al Khabar Now, October 16, 2017,
[2] “Violent clashes between extremists in Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, October 16, 2017,; “Clashes between Abu Abbas and extremist organizations in Taiz,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, October 16, 2017,; and “Truth behind clashes in Taiz,” News From Yemen, October 16, 2017,
[3] “10 killed and wounded during the demonstration in Ma’rib,” Khabar Agency, October 17, 2017,; “Two killed and five injured in the suppression of mercenaries in demonstration in the city of Ma’rib,” Yemen Today TV, October 16, 2017,; “Brotherhood militias prevent the parents of the wounded chile and brother of the deceased from visiting,” Al Teef, October 17, 2017,; “President Hadi appoints close associate of Abdul Malik al Houthi as director of security Ma’rib,” Hour News, October 17, 2017,; “Brotherhood movement seizes the reins of the security services in Ma’rib,” Al Arab, October 17, 2017,; and “Brigadier General al Madani officially takes over as director of security of Ma’rib governorate,” Al Mawqea, October 12, 2017,
[4] “Release of Islah member from prison,” Yemen Press, October 17, 2017,; and “Aden security releases Islah party member,” Al Masdar, October 17, 2017,
[5] David Pilling and John Aglionby, “Kenya’s Odinga says political crisis has ignited secession debate,” Financial Times, October 17, 2017,
[6] Maureen Kakah, “High Court lifts ban on Nasa's anti-IEBC demos in city centres,” Daily Nation, October 17, 2017,
[7] “International Aid to Help Somalia After Bomb That Killed 300,” U.S. News and World Report, October 17, 2017,; and “The Latest: 35 Somali victims arrive in Turkey for treatment,” Washington Post, October 16, 2017,

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