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: Russian President Putin announces willingness to facilitate political settlement in Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces prevent suspected AQAP suicide attack in al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen; AQAP militants ambush Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; AQAP militants target Hadi government entities in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen; al Houthi forces stage military parade in al Hudaydah city, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Ambassadors to Kenya warn majority party not to amend election laws; al Shabaab militants assassinate Puntland security official; al Shabaab militants attack military base in Bay region, southern Somalia; University of Nairobi officials close school indefinitely

Yemen Security Brief

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is prepared to facilitate a settlement of the Yemeni conflict during a speech to foreign ambassadors in Moscow on October 3. Putin added that peace can be achieved by hosting a wide national dialogue including all political parties to the conflict. Yemeni ambassador to Russia Ahmed Salem al Wahishi thanked Putin for Russia’s support of the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government. The King of Saudi Arabia is scheduled to arrive in Russia on October 4 to discuss strengthening partnerships and developments in the region.[1]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces interdicted a suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) suicide bomber in Damt district, al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on October 2. The suicide bomber approached a government building in a car and detonated one explosive belt after being stopped by security forces at a checkpoint, killing only himself.[2] 

AQAP militants ambushed Emirati-backed al Hizam forces and destroyed the unit’s armored vehicle in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on October 2. Local news sources reported that AQAP militants attempted to assassinate al Hizam First Support Brigade Commander Fawaz al Shabahi with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Mudiyah on October 2. Al Shabahi led a raid against an AQAP safehouse earlier in the day, arresting a local AQAP leader.[3]

AQAP militants attacked two Hadi government-affiliated entities in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on October 3. AQAP militants attempted to assassinate criminal investigator Aref al Mohammadi with an IED in Dis area, al Mukalla city. Suspected AQAP militants also detonated an IED targeting a military command center in Sayun city. AQAP militants often target government and security officials in Hadramawt.[4]

Al Houthi forces staged a military parade in al Hudaydah city, northern Yemen on October 2. Al Houthi forces celebrated the graduation of special forces and security forces in the region in the presence of al Houthi Chief of General Staff Major General Mohammad Abdul Karim Al Ghamari.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Fourteen diplomatic envoys led by the U.S. warned Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee party not to amend election laws before the October 26 re-run election on October 3. Ambassadors from 14 nations met with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials to discuss the election process. The ambassadors condemned the political threats toward the IEBC and the Supreme Court, underlining the importance of their independence. U.S. ambassador Robert Godec stated the U.S. would withdraw visas or implement a travel ban if Kenyan political leaders continue their inflammatory rhetoric. IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati will discuss the re-run election with presidential candidates Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 3.[6] 

Al Shabaab militants assassinated the chief of security at the Galkayo airport in Galkayo city, Mudug region, Puntland, Somalia on October 2. The Galmudug state and Puntland jointly administer the city. Fights between both states over territory and resources have degraded local security.[7] 

Al Shabaab militants attacked a joint Southwest state and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military base near Baidoa city in Gofgadud village, Bay region, southern Somalia on October 3. Al Shabaab has temporarily controlled Gofgadud on several occasions since 2011. The base lies on the Wajid-Baidoa highway, 35 km north of Baidoa.[8]   

School officials indefinitely closed the University of Nairobi because of mass student protests on October 3. Riot police stormed campus to disrupt protests related to the presidential election, injuring 27 students on September 28. Students retaliated and burned down the school’s security office on the evening of October 2. The University of Nairobi, Kenya’s highest ranked university, enrolls over 60,000 students.[9]

[1] “Putin comments on Yemen crisis,” Tass Russian News Agency, October 3, 2017,; “The Russian President receives the credentials of Ambassador al Wahishi,” Saba New, October 3, 2017,; and “Saudi Ambassador to Russia describes King Salman's visit as historic,” Saudi Press Agency, October 2, 2017,
[2] “A suicide bomber blows himself up in al Dhaleh,” Aden Lang, October 3, 2017,; “Failed suicide attempt in Daleh governorate,” Al Masirah, October 2, 2017,; “Al Houthi-Saleh forces interdict suicide attack,” Saba News, October 2, 2017,; and “Suicide attack thwarted in al Dhalah governorate,” Aden Post, October 3, 2017,
[3] AQAP target rapid intervention forces in Mudiyah, Telegram, October 2, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, October 3, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 2, 2017,; and “Survival of a military commander from an assassination attempt in Mudiyah, Abyan after a successful raid,” Aden Tomorrow, October 2, 2017,
[4] AQAP targets Aref al Mohammadi in al Mukalla, Telegram, October 3, 2017; “Explosive device targeted a military command center in the city of Sayun in Wadi Hadramawt,” Aden Tomorrow, October 3, 2017,
[5] “Houthis hold military parade in al Hudaydah city,” Aden Tomorrow, October 3, 2017,; “Graduation of Special Forces in the fifth military region,” Saba News, October 2, 2017,; and “Houthi military parade in al Hudaydah,” Mosnad News, October 3, 2017,
[6] Rawlings Otieno, “International community oppose changes to Kenya's election laws,” Standard Media, October 3, 2017,; and Patrick Lang’at, “Wafula Chebukati to meet Uhuru and Raila Odinga,” October 3, 2017,
[7] “Police chief at airport in Somalia’s Puntland shot dead,” Reuters, October 2, 2017,
[8] “Al Shabaab militants raid Somali, AU Troops near Baidoa city,” All Africa, October 3, 2017,
[9] Cyrus, Ombati, UoN closed indefinitely after students riot over police invasion, assault,” Standard Media, October 3, 2017,

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