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: AQAP militants target security forces with IEDs in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen; Emirati forces train 1500 troops to be deployed to Taiz city, central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missile at Saudi arms silo in Najran, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Kenyan electoral commission announces low voter turnout during re-run election; Uganda offers to deploy more troops in Somalia; al Shabaab militants implement hudud 

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is using improvised explosives devices (IEDs) to target security forces in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen. Suspected AQAP militants detonated an IED targeting troops loyal to Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Sayun city, central Hadramawt on October 27. Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces dismantled two IEDs likely planted by AQAP militants in al Mukalla city, southern Hadramawt on October 26. Security forces reported one IED may have intended to target Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) politicians. STC officials were in al Mukalla when security forces discovered the IED. Security forces investigated the perpetrators and dismantled another IED at an AQAP safehouse in neighboring Ghayl Ba Wazir district, southern Hadramawt. Strong government institutions threaten AQAP’s ability to expand its support base.[1]  

The UAE is reportedly training 1000 troops in Aden city, southern Yemen and another 500 in Eritrea to deploy a security unit similar to the Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces to Taiz city, central Yemen. Al Hizam forces are troops from local communities in southern Yemen trained to conduct security and counterterrorism operations. Coalition-backed Salafi militias are currently the primary force fighting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz city, but several militias also provide assistance to Salafi-jihadi groups.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at a Saudi arms silo in Bir Askar, Najran region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on October 27. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also fired a Zilzal-1 ballistic missile at Saudi soldiers in Asir province, southern Saudi Arabia on October 25, according to al Houthi-Saleh news outlets. Al Houthi-Saleh cross-border attacks are part of a campaign intended to impose a high cost on Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan electoral commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced on October 27 that 34% of registered voters participated in the October 26 re-run election, compared to 80% in the August 8 election. The opposition party boycotted the election and intimidated voters at polling stations in opposition strongholds. Most voting occurred within President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Kikuyu and Deputy President William Ruto’s Kalenjin ethnic communities. The electoral commission postponed voting in four opposition strongholds in western Kenya indefinitely due to security threats. Kenyan police cleared blockades and disrupted demonstrations in Migori county on October 27 to secure the area for voting.[4] 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni offered to deploy 5,000 Ugandan forces to Somalia in exchange for military equipment and additional funding from the international community on October 27. Uganda contributes the largest force to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with over 6,000 soldiers currently in Somalia. President Museveni pledged to increase Ugandan military support in Somalia in response to the October 14 Mogadishu bombing following a meeting with Somali President Mohamed Farmajo on October 22.[5]

Al Shabaab militants implemented hudud, punishments for crimes under Sharia law, in its regional territories on October 26 and 27. The militants stoned a woman to death for adultery in Sakow, Middle Jubba region, Somalia on October 26. Al Shabaab militants also cut off the hands of six youths for stealing in Mubarak village, Bakool region, southern Somalia on October 27. Al Shabaab controls nearly all of the Sakow district in Middle Jubba and the southern Bakool region. Al Shabaab operates an Islamic court system within its territories.[6] 

[1] “An explosive charge killed three soldiers of government forces in Sayoun,” Al Masdar, October 27, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 27, 2017,, “Hadhrami Elite Forces thwarted a terrorist plot targeting the transitional leadership,” Aden al Hadath, October 26, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, October 26, 2017,
[2] “The UAE plans to announce the formation of al Hizam forces in Taiz under the government and popular rejection,” Al Masdar, October 27, 2017,
[3] “Qaher-M2 missile hits Saudi Arabian army silo,” Saba News, October 27, 2017,; “Qaher-M2 missile targets Najran with great accuracy,” Al Masirah, October 2017, 2017,; and “Missile hits Saudi forces in Najran,” Yemen Today, October 27, 2017,
[4] “Kenya election: Turnout under 34% amid opposition boycott,” BBC, October 27, 2017,; Ed Cropley, “Low turnout taints Kenyatta victory in Kenya election re-run,” Reuters, October 27, 2017,; and Moses Njagih, “IEBC to delcare results if voters fail to turn up for repeat presidential poll,” The Standard, October 27, 2017,
[5] Tabu Butagira and Risdel Kasasira, “Museveni ready to send 5,000 troops to Somalia,” Daily Monitor, October 26, 2017,
[6] “Somalia's al Shabaab stones woman to death for cheating on husband,” Reuters, October 26, 2017,; and MohaBulbul, Twitter, October 27, 2017,  

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