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: Al Houthi spokesman reiterates threat to strike Abu Dhabi with ballistic missiles; AQAP attacks Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; gunmen assassinate Salafi imam in Aden city, southern Yemen; Transitional Political Council of the South establishes local offices in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missile at military camp in Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack hotel in Mogadishu; Kenyan electoral commissioner declares President Uhuru Kenyatta re-run election winner

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi political party Ansar Allah spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam reiterated the al Houthi movement’s threat to strike Abu Dhabi with ballistic missiles in an interview with Qatari news agency al Jazeera on October 29. Abdul Salam also stated that al Houthi-Saleh forces will increase cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia. Abdul Salam added that the al Houthi movement is ready for political negotiations with all parties to the conflict. Local sources noted that this interview was Abdul Salam’s first with al Jazeera since the beginning of the conflict. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi threatened to attack Saudi Arabia and the UAE with ballistic missiles in a televised interview on September 14.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants targeted Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen. An AQAP militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) targeting al Hizam troops deploying to al Mahfad district in northeastern Abyan on October 29. Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces met al Hizam forces in Mahfad town on October 29 to begin conducting counterterrorism raids and arrests. Al Hizam forces raided a suspected AQAP safe house in al Haq area, west of Mahfad town, on October 30. AQAP also detonated two IEDs targeting al Hizam forces in al Ayn area, Lawder district, northern Abyan on October 30.[2]

Gunmen assassinated moderate Salafi imam Sheikh Adel al Shehri in Inma area, Aden city, southern Yemen on October 28. Gunmen assassinated two other Salafi imams on October 10 and October 18 in Aden city and attempted to assassinate another on October 22. Aden governor Abdul Aziz al Miflahi announced on October 22 that he would take measures to ensure security forces provide greater security for imams. Leadership from both the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Southern Movement issued statements on October 29 calling on security forces to protect imams and mosques.[3]

The president of the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC), Aydarus al Zubaydi, stated that no southern region seeking liberation may bypass the STC. Zubaydi gave a speech to inaugurate the STC’s local leadership in al Ghaydah city, al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on October 28. Local political leader Sultan al Muhri Abdullah bin Isa al Afar rejected the STC’s formation of an elite security force and called for the independence of both al Mahrah and Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen. Zubaydi inaugurated STC leadership in three other governorates after announcing the formation of a National Assembly on October 14.[4] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile targeting al Jarba military camp in Dhahran district, Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 30. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at a Saudi military target in Najran region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on October 27. Spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition Colonel Turki al Maliki announced that al Houthi-Saleh forces have fired 77 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabian territory.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated two VBIEDs near the Naso-Hablod Two hotel and raided the hotel with small arms, killing over 23 civilians and several government officials in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 28. Five al Shabaab militants used National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) IDs to pass through security checkpoints. President Mohamed Farmajo fired NISA Director Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbaloolshe and Chief of Police Abdihakim Said in response to the attack. The Chief of the Somali National Army (SNA) and the Somali Minister of Defense also resigned on October 13. Al Shabaab militants detonated two VBIEDs in Mogadishu on October 14, killing over 300 civilians at the Safari hotel.[6] 

The chairman of Kenya’s electoral commission certified the integrity of the October 26 re-run presidential election and stated that incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won with over 98% of the vote. The opposition party boycotted the vote and intimidated voters to reduce turnout in opposition strongholds. Kenyan police charged opposition officials with inciting election-related violence in Nairobi on October 30. Police arrested two members of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s inner circle for similar charges during protests against the election commission on October 23. Odinga called for another vote within 90 days because voting did not occur in every constituency as mandated by the Kenyan constitution.[7]

[1] “Ansar Allah spokesman: Abu Dhabi is a target for our missiles and we will increase attacks on Saudi Arabia,” Al Masirah, October 29, 2017,; “In first interview with al Jazeera, al Houthi spokesman says movement is ready for peace talks and Abu Dhabi is a target for al Houthi missiles,” Al Masirah, October 29, 2017,; and “Al Houthi movement leaders reemerge via al Jazeera after absence of many years,” Aden Tomorrow, October 29, 2017,
[2] “AQAP claims ambush and suicide bombing on SBF in Abyan,” SITE, September 8, 2017, available by subscription at; “A martyr and three wounded from al Hizam in a car bomb explosion in al Mahfad,” Aden Tomorrow, October 29, 2017,; AQAP target al Hizam in al Ayn, Lawder, Telegram, October 30, 2017; “Security forces enter al Mahfad district in Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, October 29, 2017,; “Al Qaeda was expelled from its last stronghold in Abyan,” Al Ittihad, October 30, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 29-30, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 30, 2017,; and Demolinari, Twitter, October 30, 2017,
[3] “A third Sheikh dies within three weeks, the killing of a Sheikh by unknown gunmen in Aden,” Al Masdar, October 28, 2017,; “The Ministry of Religious Endowments calls for protection of mosques,” Aden Tomorrow, October 28, 2017,; and “A southern leader calls for the formation of protection committees for mosques and their imams,” Aden Tomorrow, October 29, 2017,
[4] “President Zubaydi: the Transitional Council is a project for the entire south from al Mahrah to Bab al Mandab,” Southern Transitional Council, October 29, 2017,; and “Bin Afar refuses to form skilled security force and adheres to the demands of an independent al Mahrah and Socotra,” Aden Tomorrow, October 28, 2017,
[5] “Al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missile at Saudi Arabi,” Al Masdar, October 30, 2017,; “Ballistic missile hits depths of Saudi Arabia,” Al Masirah, October 30, 2017,; “Qaher M2 missile hits Saudi Arabia,” Saba News, October 30, 2017,; and “Turki al Maliki: Houthis have fired 77 ballistic missiles at Saudi territory,” Aden Tomorrow, October 30, 2017,
[6] Jason Burke, “Militants who killed 23 at Mogadishu hotel used intelligence service ID cards,” The Guardian, October 29, 2017,; Abdi Guled, “Somali Police, Intelligence Chiefs fired after deadly attack,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 2017,; and “Surivior recounts hotel siege that killed family members,” Garower Online, October 30, 2017,
[7] Patrick Lang’at and John Ngirachu, “IEBC declares Uhuru winner of disputed repeat presidential poll,” Daily Nation, October 30, 2017,; and Jason Burke, “Kenyan police hunt opposition politicians they blame for violence,” The Guardian, October 30, 2017,

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