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: Internationally-recognized President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi thanks Saudi Arabia in Eid speech; Southern Transition Council President Aydarus al Zubaidi remarks on the southern situation

Horn of Africa: Somali Foreign Minister claims al Shabaab possess uranium deposits and urges U.S. military intervention in Somalia; Kenya’s Supreme Court nullifies presidential election results; al Shabaab hosts Eid al Adha celebrations in its strongholds; Somali Federal Government acknowledges civilian deaths in joint U.S.-SNA raid; al Shabaab conducts twin attacks in Af Urur town, Bari region, northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi thanked Saudi Arabia for aiding the Hadi government’s cause and stressed the importance of ensuring that Yemen does not fall into the hands of Iran in an Eid al Adha speech on September 1. Hadi called the al Houthi-Saleh movement an Iranian instrument and affirmed the Hadi government’s objective of restoring unity in Yemen. Hadi resides in Saudi Arabia and his government receives support from the Saudi-led coalition.[1] 

President of the Southern Transition Council Aydarus al Zubaidi criticized the Hadi government’s administration of southern governorates on September 1. Zubaidi, who was ousted as governor of Aden by Hadi at the beginning of this year, highlighted the need to improve public services in Aden, as well as address the non-payment of salaries and pensions of state employees. The Hadi government has faced a cash-liquidity crisis and has been unable to pay most government salaries for several months. Zubaidi also commented on the need to eradicate Iranian influence in Yemen. The Southern Transition Council is an Emirati-backed representative body that rivals the Hadi government.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Garaad Omar Yusuf urged the U.S. to conduct a large-scale military intervention against al Shabaab and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Somalia after a Somali intelligence report suggested the two groups are collaborating to sell uranium to Iran. Al Shabaab seized critical surface-exposed uranium deposits in Galmudug, central Somalia, where militants are stripping mining triuranium octoxide, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf. Foreign Minister Yusuf wrote a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz appealing for a military intervention on August 11.[3]

Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the results of the country’s presidential election on September 1. Chief Justice David Maraga claimed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct the August 8 elections in accordance with the constitution, but did not specify which irregularities prompted the court’s decision to void the results. The National Super Alliance (NASA) party petition to the Supreme Court asserted that inconsistencies among voting platforms resulted in a rigged election. The IEBC challenged opposition party claims that the election results were fraudulent, filing a petition with the Supreme Court on August 25. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta defeated NASA candidate Raila Odinga by 1.4 million votes in an election validated by U.S., European Union and African Union observers. The court ordered that Kenya will hold new elections within the next 60 days.[4]

Al Shabaab held public Eid al Adha celebrations in territories the group controls on August 31. The group released a series of photos showing dozens of residents praying at public celebrations. The group also released photos of military parades and children holding toy guns, mirroring al Shabaab’s Eid al Fitr celebrations in June. Al Shabaab held celebrations in Lower Shabelle, Lower Jubba, and Galgudud regions. The group also announced that al Shabaab Emir Ahmed Umar (Abu Ubaidah) plans to make public remarks to acknowledge Eid al Adha. The speech will mark Umar’s second public statement since becoming the leader of al Shabaab in 2014.[5] 

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) acknowledged that Somali National Army (SNA) troops killed ten civilians during a joint U.S.-SNA raid in Barire, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on August 25. The SFG plans to compensate the victims’ families. The victims’ families buried the bodies of the deceased civilians in response to the SFG acknowledgement on August 31. The families protested by refusing to bury the bodies until the SFG admitted that SNA troops killed the ten civilians.[6]

Al Shabaab conducted two simultaneous attacks in Af Urur town, Bari region, northern Somalia on September 1. Al Shabaab militants shelled Puntland Security Force soldiers in Af Urur town and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Khat Market in the town. Al Shabaab seized Af Urur town on June 8, although Puntland Security Forces recaptured the town in July 2017.[7] 

[1] “President Hadi in a speech on the occasion of Eid al Adha: Yemen will not be in the hands of the Persians,” al Masdar, September 1, 2017,; “President of the Republic: Yemen will not be a breeding ground for Iran and the National Army will teach the milia harsh lessons,” Saba New, August 31, 2017,
[2] “President of the Southern Transitional Council addresses the people of the South at home and abroad on the occasion of Eid al Adha,” The Southern Transition Council, September 1, 2017,
[3] Catherine Herridge and Jake Gibson, “Al Qaeda affiliate mining uranium to send to Iran, Somali official warns US ambassador,” Fox News, September 1, 2017,
[4] “Kenya presidential election cancelled by Supreme Court,” BBC, September 1, 2017,; and Nancy Agutu, “Raila wins as Supreme Court nullifies Uhuru re-election,” The Star, September 1, 2017,
[5] Shahada News, Facebook, September 1, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 31, 2017,
[6] “Somalia: Funeral held for 10 people killed in U.S.-backed raid,” Garowe Online, August 31, 2017,
[7] Garowe Online, Twitter, September 1, 2017,

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