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: Russia reportedly offers to host talks between President Hadi and former president Saleh; U.S. and Saudi Arabia designate Yemeni individuals and businesses as al Qaeda supporters; UAE-backed southern government president establishes local offices in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen; suspected U.S. airstrikes kill Salafi-jihadists in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Kenyan Supreme Court fails to reach quorum to hear petition on postponing re-run election; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia; ISIS detonates IED targeting police in Puntland, northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Russian government offered to host preliminary talks between internationally recognized President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government officials and representatives of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Moscow, according to London based newspaper al Quds al Arabi on October 25. A Yemeni source told al Quds al Arabi that subsequent negotiations would include all parties in the Yemeni conflict. Senior al Houthi movement leader Mohammed Ali al Houthi expressed support for Russian mediated talks provided UN Security Council Resolution 2216 is not a prerequisite for negotiations. UN Security Council resolution 2216 calls for the al Houthi-Saleh bloc to withdraw from all seized territory and relinquish heavy and medium arms.[1]

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia, through the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, designated several Yemeni entities as sponsors of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) on October 25. The U.S. imposed sanctions on eight individuals and one organization. Saudi Arabia imposed sanctions on these same entities, plus three more individuals and an organization already sanctioned by the U.S. Three prominent individuals included former al Bayda governor Naif al Qaisi, Salafi militia leader Adel Abdu Farea Outhman, and former Secretary General of the al Rashad Union Abdul Wahab al Homaiqani. Outhman is the leader of the Abu Abbas Brigade, which has cooperated with AQAP in Taiz city. Al Homaiqani was an advisor to President Hadi and served on Hadi’s delegation during peace talks in Geneva. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. established the center in May 2017 to better coordinate intelligence sharing and Salafi-jihadi targeting.[2] 

Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaydi stated that Hadramawt will be the backbone of a future southern Yemeni state during a speech to inaugurate the STC’s local leadership and headquarters in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on October 25. Al Zubaydi will travel to al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen and Socotra island in the Gulf of Aden on October 26 to open STC branches in the governorates. Al Zubaydi inaugurated the STC’s local leadership and headquarters in Ataq city, Shabwah governorate on October 24 and the STC’s National Assembly and its local leadership in Aden city on October 23.[3]

Two suspected U.S. airstrikes killed a number of Salafi-jihadists in northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 25. Local sources report one airstrike hit Baqarat area, al Quraishyah district and another hit between Yakla and Dhi Kalib areas, Wald Rabi’ district. The U.S. targeted AQAP militants in southern al Bayda on October 20 and two ISIS training camps in northwestern al Bayda on October 16.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan Supreme Court failed to reach quorum to hear a petition on postponing the re-run election on October 25. The Supreme Court requires five of the seven justices to conduct a hearing, but only Chief Justice David Maraga and one other attended the hearing due to security concerns. A gunman shot the bodyguard and driver of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu on October 24. Justice Mwilu voted with the court majority to nullify the August 8 presidential election on September 1.[5]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces with small arms and an improvised explosive device (IED) five kilometers outside Afgoi in Arbiska village, Lower Shabelle region, Somalia on October 25. Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM forces began an offensive against al Shabaab in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region on October 21. Arbiska lies on the Afgoi-Mogadishu highway, 25 kilometers north of Mogadishu.[6] 

ISIS militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a police station in Boosaaso, Bari, northern Somalia on October 24, according to an ISIS-affiliated social media account. ISIS attacked Boosaaso’s police forces twice in October. ISIS does not maintain a large presence in Somalia.[7]

[1] “Yemeni source: Russia offered to host negotiations between Hadi and Saleh,” Al Quds al Arabi, October 25, 2016,; Fuad Rajeh, Twitter, October 25, 2017,; and Mohammed Ali al Houthi, Twitter, October 24, 2017,

[2] “Treasury and Terrorist Financing Targeting Center Partners Issue First Joint Sanctions Against Key Terrorists and Supporters,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 25, 2017,; “Presidency: Announces the inclusion of two entities and eleven names of leaders and financiers and supporters of al Qaeda and the first and last addition,” Saudi Press Agency, October 25, 2017,; and Alan Rappeport, “U.S. Targets Terrorist Financing With New Round of Sanctions,” The New York Times, October 25, 2017,  

[3] “The President of the Southern Transitional Council is giving a historic speech to the sons of Hadramawt,” Southern Transitional Council, October 25, 2017,; and “Commander Zubaydi: Hadramawt is the whole south and the whole south is Hadramawt,” Southern Transitional Council, October 25, 2017,

[4] “Yemen: 13 militants from Da’ash killed in two U.S. raids in al Bayda,” Arab Youm, October 25, 2017,; and “U.S. forces commit new disaster in Yemen,” Barq Press, October 25, 2017,

[5] Jason Burke, “Kenya election rerun to go ahead after court fails to rule on delay, The Guardian, October 25, 2017,; Hamza Mohamed, “Kenya vote to go ahead after block attempt fails,” Al Jazeera, October 25, 2017,; “Kenya Deputy Chief Justice's Driver Shot, Injured,” VOA, October 24, 2017,; and “Bodyguard of Kenya's deputy chief justice shot,” News 24, October 25, 2017,

[6] “Al Shabaab attacks AMISOM forces and kills journalist in Abriskha,” Radio Dalsan, October 25, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 25, 2017,

[7] “Amaq reports ten Somali police killed and wounded in ISIS attack,” SITE, October 24, 2017, available by subscription at

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