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 kill Emirati officer in Daw’an, Hadramawt governorate; al Houthi-Saleh militants reportedly break into homes of Hadi government officials in Sana’a city; Hadi government human rights commission spokesperson criticizes UN appeal for human rights investigation

Horn of Africa: Kenyan al Shabaab fighters in Somalia consider defection; protesters demonstrate against the Somali government’s deportation of ONLF leader; U.S. Department of Treasury targets South Sudanese officials and companies

Yemen Security Brief

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants killed an Emirati officer visiting his family in Libnah Rushayd, Daw’an district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on September 5. Suspected AQAP militants also killed the Daw’an Deputy Head of Security later the same day in an ambush near the Qidun area of Daw’an. AQAP frequently attacks Emirati-backed security forces in Daw’an district.[1] 

Al Houthi-Saleh forces broke into the homes of the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government’s Interior Minister Hussein Mohammed Arab and Information Minister Muammar al Iryani in Sana’a city on September 6, according to a Hadi government news outlet. A Hadi government press release condemned the breakins and framed al Houthi-Saleh objectives as being aligned with Iranian objectives.[2]

A spokesperson for the Hadi government National Commission, which was charged in September 2015 to investigate human rights abuses in Yemen, claimed that the establishment of an international investigation by the UN Human Rights Council would be futile. The spokesperson defended the Commission, saying it has documented more than 17,000 cases of alleged violations throughout Yemen and previous attempts to set up an international investigation have failed. A UN human rights report released on September 5 criticized the National Commission for its partiality in investigating human rights infractions.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Six Kenyans fighting for al Shabaab in the Boni Forest, Lower Jubba, southern Somalia are considering defecting from the group, according to a Kenyan Police report. The Kenyan government issued a bounty of roughly $19,000 on the militants in an effort to disincentivize foreign fighters from joining al Shabaab. The police report states that one of the Kenyan al Shabaab militants, Ahmed Iman Ali, agreed to cooperate with the Kenyan government against al Shabaab on the conditions that the government does not prosecute his family and does not deport him.[4] 

Protesters demonstrated over the Somali Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman’s defense of the Somali government’s transfer of Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) leader Abdikarin Sheikh Muse to Ethiopia on September 4. The decision to transfer Muse also caused widespread social media outrage. Muse fought in Somalia’s 1977 war against Ethiopia and holds dual Somali-Ethiopian citizenship, according to his supporters. The ONLF is fighting for self determination in Ogaden, a region primarily occupied by ethnic Somalis. Many Somalis view ONLF’s fight against Ethiopia as a national struggle and are critical of Somalia's cooperation with Ethiopia. Somalia’s constitution also forbids the extradition of Somali citizens.[5]

The U.S. Department of Treasury froze the assets of two members of the South Sudan government and a former South Sudanese army chief. It also sanctioned three South Sudanese companies. A U.S. Treasury Department press release stated that it will forcefully respond to those who attempt to hide their corruption in the U.S. financial system and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan. The civil war in South Sudan is in its fourth year and has displaced four million people.[6]

[1] “Assassination of an Emirati officer with his companions in Hadramawt,” Yemen Akhbar, September 5, 2017,; “The series of assassinations continues in Wadi Hadramawt,” Aden Lang, September 6, 2017,; and “News of the assassination of an Emirati officer of Yemeni origin in Hadramawt,” RT Arabic, September 6, 2017, FOREIGN DOMAIN.
[2] “The government condemns the coup by the militia and the looting of the homes of the interior and media ministers,” Saba New, September 6, 2017,; “Al Houthis break into the house of the Yemeni Information Minister and kidnap his bodyguard,” Aden Tomorrow September 7, 2017,; “Gunmen break into Hussein Arab’s house and steal him,” Aden Tomorrow, September 6, 2017,; and Islam Saif, “Houthis loot homes of Hadi government ministers in Yemen,” Al Arabiya English, September 7, 2017, FOREIGN DOMAIN.
[3] “Yemeni investigators: The establishment of an international human rights commission in the country is futile,” Aden Lang, September 7, 2017,
[4] “Kenya Puts Bounties On al Shabaab Leaders,” Shabelle News, September 6, 2017,
[5] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalia: ONLF Member Transferred to Addis Was Terrorist, Regional Threat,” Voice of America, September 6, 2017,; and Hibaaq Osman, “Who Is Really In Control of Mogadishu,” HuffPost, September 6, 2017,
[6] U.S. Treasury Department South Sudan-Related Sanctions Brochure,; and “South Sudan: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Three Officials,” Voice of America, September 6, 2017,

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