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. Navy aids Iranian vessel near Socotra island in Gulf of Aden; detainees begin hunger strike at Emirati-backed prison in Aden city, southern Yemen; Saudi Crown Prince states Saudi Arabia seeks to prevent formation of anything like Hezbollah in Yemen; U.S. Central Command confirms airstrikes targeting ISIS in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Opposition protesters and police clash outside polling stations during re-run election; local clans skirmish over land disputes in Mudug region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Howard provided assistance to an Iranian fishing vessel south of Socotra island in the Gulf of Aden on October 24. Pirates reportedly attacked the vessel. Internationally recognized Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir claimed that local Yemeni fishermen seized an Iranian vessel and its 19 crew members off the coast of Socotra on October 21.[1]

Detainees began a hunger strike and demanded to be released from Emirati-backed Bir Ahmed camp, Aden city, southern Yemen on October 21. Emirati and Yemeni security forces often torture prisoners and hold prisoners for long periods without access to lawyers, information on indictment charges, and trials. Security forces removed several families demonstrating against detainee mistreatment in front of the International Red Cross headquarters in Aden city on October 21. Human Rights Watch criticized the UAE for detainee abuse in Yemen on October 26.[2]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that Saudi Arabia will not cease its operations in Yemen until it has eliminated the threat of the al Houthi movement becoming another Hezbollah during an interview with Reuters on October 26. Crown Prince Salman justified the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen by highlighting the importance of ensuring the Bab al Mandab strait remains open to international trade. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have attacked U.S. and Saudi-led coalition warships with surface-to-ship missiles and remote-controlled explosive boats in the Red Sea and Bab al Mandab Strait.[3] 

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed it killed nine Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants in two airstrikes in northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 25. This is the second time U.S. airstrikes have targeted ISIS in Yemen. The U.S. targeted two ISIS training camps in northwestern al Bayda on October 16. A CENTCOM spokesman reported that the October 25 and 16 airstrikes combined killed 60 ISIS militants.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Thousands of opposition supporters clashed with police at polling stations in Kenya due to concerns over the re-run election’s integrity on October 26. Three protesters died in the clashes. Opposition supporters threw rocks and intimidated poll workers and voters. Opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the election on October 10 and called for a nationwide election boycott and peaceful protests away from polling stations on October 25. The Kenyan electoral commission postponed voting in Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Migori counties to October 28 because of security threats.[5]

A Galmudug clan skirmished with a Puntland clan with heavy and small arms in Godad and Gacmafale villages, Mudug region, central Somalia. Galmudug and Puntland clans often fight over territorial disputes in Mudug. Galmudug and Puntland state forces also clashed on October 7 and 13 over disputed territory in the Mudug region.[6]

[1] “Coalition Forces Render Aid to an Iranian Fishing Vessel,” U.S. Navy, October 25, 2017,
[2] “Yemen/UAE: Aden Hunger Strike Highlights Detainee Abuse,” Human Rights Watch, October 26, 2017,; “Detainees hunger strike in a prison under the control of the UAE and its allies in Aden,” Al Masdar, October 21, 2017,; and “A protest of the families of the detainees at a prison in Aden, in solidarity with their families who are on a hunger strike,” Al Masdar, October 22, 2017,
[3] “Crown Prince announces Saudi mega-city listing, discusses Qatar rift, Yemen war,” Reuters, October 26, 2017,
[4] “US airstrikes in Yemen kills 9 ISIS militants,” CNN, October 25, 2017,
[5] “Kenya election: Voting begins in re-run amid tightened security,” BBC, October 26, 2017,; “Kenya election: Police clash with opposition supporters, 1 killed,” CNN, October 26, 2017,; and “Three dead as repeat presidential election turns violent,” Daily Nation, October 26, 2017,
[6] “Heavy Inter-Clan Fighting Renews Near Galkayo Town,” Radio Shabelle, October 26, 2017,

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