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 bombmaker releases statement commemorating September 11 attacks; Donald Trump considers aggressive strategy to combat Iranian influence; Ali Abdullah Saleh and Abdul Malik al Houthi discuss unity; Human Rights Watch report criticizes Saudi-led coalition’s failure to protect children

Horn of Africa: Odinga supporters riot in Kisumu county, southwestern Kenya; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM military bases in the Hiraan region and Middle Shabelle, southern Somalia; U.S. AFRICOM confirms airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief bombmaker Ibrahim al Asiri released a statement on September 12, commemorating the 9/11 attacks and promising a ceaseless fight against the U.S. Al Asiri also celebrated the achievements of the Afghan mujahideen and called attention to aggression against the global Muslim community.[1] 

President Donald Trump is considering a strategy to allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iranian-backed militant groups in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster proposed the strategy in the September 8 National Security Council meeting. The strategy includes intercepting Iranian weapon shipments to al Houthi-Saleh forces. Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed that the U.S. supports his government pursuing a military solution to counter Iranian influence in Yemen in an interview on September 11. The Hadi government and Saudi-led coalition deployed ground forces from Aden city to Mokha district, on the Red Sea coastline in Taiz governorate, on September 7 to stage for an offensive on al Hudaydah.[2]

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh met with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi to discuss the importance of maintaining cohesion within the al Houthi-Saleh bloc on September 13. Supreme Political Council president Saleh al Samad replaced several government leaders loyal to Saleh with al Houthi movement supporters on September 9. The GPC deemed the unilateral appointments  invalid and claimed that the decision violated the al Houthi-Saleh partnership.[3]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report criticizing the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen on September 12. HRW stated that the coalition failed to deliver on its promise to comply with international law to increase protection of children, recommending that the UN return the Saudi-led coalition to its List of Shame. The report supported UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein’s demand for an international inquiry into humanitarian abuses. This is the third year al Hussein urged UN member states to establish an inquiry into the war. China announced its intent to back this demand during a UN human rights council session in Geneva, Switzerland on September 13. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Geneva Abdulaziz Al Wasil agreed with the need for an inquiry, but that now is not the right time. The ambassador suggested the international community should focus on improving access to humanitarian relief in Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Supporters of Kenyan presidential candidate and Opposition leader Raila Odinga rioted in Kisumu city, Kisumu county, southwestern Kenya on September 13. A rumor about individuals purchasing National Identification Cards at the Jumia hotel in Kisumu city in order to rig the election caused the riots. Kisumu is a stronghold of Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) party and the city where police and protesters clashed, which began the Kenyan crisis of 2007.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Djiboutian military base in Jalalaqsi, Hiraan region, southern Somalia and a Burundian military base in Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 13, according to the group’s social media channel. Al Shabaab has attacked three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)-operated bases since September 8. Somalia’s largest route to Ethiopia runs through Jalalaqsi and Mahaday, an essential supply route for the Somali Federal Government in Mogadishu. The military bases are 34 miles apart.[6]

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed a U.S. airstrike killed six al Shabaab militants 260 kilometers south of Somali capital Mogadishu on September 13. U.S. forces have launched four airstrikes against al Shabaab militants in Somalia since September 1, more than any other month in 2017. U.S. forces coordinated the airstrike with the Somali Federal Government.[7] 

[1] AQAP’s Chief Bombmaker Promises Ongoing War Against America in Message for 16th Anniversary of 9/11, SITE, September 8, 2017, available by subscription at
[2] “Trump to weigh more aggressive strategy on Iran-sources,” Reuters, September 11, 2017,
[3] “Communication between the leader of the revolution and the former president,” Saba News, September 13, 2017,
[4] “Yemen: Coalition Airstrikes Deadly for Children,” Human Rights Watch, September 12, 2017,; “Saudi coalition investigates own airstrikes, clears itself,” Reuters, September 12, 2017,; China backs U.N. call for justice in Yemen, U.S. and Saudis don't,” Reuters, September 13, 2017,; and “Saudis back probe of Yemen crimes, question ‘timing,’” Washington Post, September 13, 2017,
[5] “Riots in Kenya after rumour about alleged efforts to rig upcoming election,” The Toronto Star, September 13, 2017,; and “Youths storm a Kisumu hotel over alleged vote buying,” Kenya Standard Media, September 13, 2017,
[6] Al Shabaab claims attack on a Djiboutian military base in Jalalaqsi, Telegram, September 13, 2017; and Al Shabaab claims attack on a Burundian military base in Mahadayi, Telegram, September 13, 2017.
[7] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM, September 13, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '17
Sep '17
Aug '17