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: Hadi government forces clash with Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Aden city, southern Yemen; AQAP releases videos criticizing Emirati involvement in Yemen ; al Houthi-Saleh shells kill civilians in Taiz city, central Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill civilians in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants raid SNA base in Gedo Region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants attack a SNA checkpoint in Hiraan region, central Somalia; HirShabelle Parliament elects new President; Al Shabaab militants assassinate two district chiefs in Mogadishu, Somalia; MSSU mistakenly fire on SNA forces in Mogadishu, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi Presidential Protection forces clashed with Emirati-backed al Hizam forces in Aden city, southern Yemen on September 16. Presidential Protection forces refused to comply with orders from the Hadi government to cede control of checkpoints to al Hizam forces. Al Hizam forces seized the Presidential Protection headquarters at the May 22 Stadium in Sheikh Othman district on September 16. An Emirati Apache helicopter fired two missiles at a roundabout in al Arish neighborhood after clashes between al Hizam forces and Presidential Protection forces spread to al Arish. Former Presidential Protection commander Tareq Ali Nasser Hadi said the Presidential Protection soldiers refused to be replaced without guarantees of their salaries.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video condemning Emirati and U.S. involvement in Yemen on September 17. The video is the eighth in the series Repulsion of Aggression. The video featured images from AQAP training camps, AQAP attacks targeting Emirati-backed forces, and interviews with senior AQAP officials. Senior AQAP spokesman Khalid Saeed Batarfi discussed the prophet Yusuf to highlight the virtue of forgiveness in the 16th installment of the series Stories of the Prophet on September 15. AQAP also released a nasheed, or Islamic chant, calling on Muslims to support the Rohingya in Myanmar on September 17. Al Qaeda’s media outlets are using Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims as a rallying point for the Salafi-jihadi movement.[2] 

Al Houthi-Saleh shells killed three children and injured nine others in the residential neighborhood Sha’ab al Dubba and the Souq al Samil market, Taiz city, central Yemen on September 15. The Regional Director for the Near and Middle East of the International Committee for the Red Cross Robert Mardini condemned the indiscriminate attacks on children and called on belligerents on every side to take precautionary measures to spare civilians.[3]

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 12 civilians in Harib al Qaramish district, Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen on September 16. Human Rights Watch accused the Saudi-led coalition of failing to adequately protect civilians, especially children, from airstrikes in a report on September 12. The coalition has repeatedly denied these allegations.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided a Somali National Army (SNA) base, local humanitarian offices, and temporarily captured the town of Elwaq, Gedo region, southern Somalia on September 16. The militants stole computers, vehicles, and humanitarian aid supplies. Kenyan security forces recaptured the town on September 16. Elwaq lies on an important supply route for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces between Kenya and Somalia. Al Shabaab militants raided the border town of Beled Hawo, 90 miles northeast of Elwaq on September 11.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) checkpoint in Jawiil, Hiraan region, central Somalia on September 17. The village of Jawiil is a major crossroad for main supply route between Ethiopia and Mogadishu, the capital of the Somali Federal Government and the largest highway to Puntland. Al Shabaab has attacked security forces on this highway three times since September 11.[6]

The HirShabelle Parliament elected Mohamed Abdi Waare for President of HirShabelle on September 16. The HirShabelle parliament ousted former President Ali Osoble on August 14 because of disputes with the Somali Federal Government. HirShabelle is a semi-autonomous region in southern and central Somalia that combines the regions of Hiraan and Middle Shabelle.[7]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated two district chiefs in Mogadishu, Banadir region, southern Somalia. The militants killed Kahda district intelligence chief Mohamud Hassan Moalim in a drive-by shooting in Dharkenlay district on September 17. Al Shabaab militants also killed Hamar Jajab district chief Foos Mohamed Hussein in her home on September 18.[8]   

The Mogadishu Stabilization Security Unit (MSSU), a local police force, mistakenly attacked Somali National Army forces in the Hodan and Dayniile districts of Mogadishu, Banadir region, southern Somalia on September 16. The MSSU received intelligence that al Shabaab militants planned to attack the Hodan and Dayniile districts but mistook SNA forces as militants. The Somali government created the MSSU in June 2017 to replace SNA forces in the capital.[9]


[1] Demolinari, Twitter, September 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/909016804042842112; “Presidential loyalist clash with UAE-backed forces in Yemen,” Associate Press, September 17, 2017, https://www.apnews.com/90dc09b715e843eeb7f4c89acc2a41d8/President-loyalists-clash-with-UAE-backed-forces-in-Yemen; “Tariq Ali Nasser: These are the real reasons for the clashes in al Arish and the May 22 Stadium,” Aden Tomorrow, September 16, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276806/; “Apache missile strike target al Arish district,” Aden Tomorrow, September 16, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276784/; “The outcome of clashes in Al Arish,” Aden Tomorrow, September 16, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276780/; “A power outage in al Arish district after an electricity generataor was injured by the clashes,” Aden Tomorrow, September 16, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276765/; and “Extending clashes to the al Arish district,” Aden Tomorrow, September 16, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276762/.
[2] “New message from AQAP: Repulsion of Aggression,” Jihadology, September 17, 2017, http://jihadology.net/2017/09/17/new-video-message-from-al-qaidah-in-the-arabian-peninsula-repulsion-of-aggression-8/; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 17, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/909518376426508290; “AQAP presents: Repulsion of Aggression,” Telegram, September 17, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 15, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/908809739198517248; “New video message from AQAP’s Sheikh Batarfi,” Jihadology, September 15, 2017, http://jihadology.net/2017/09/15/new-video-message-from-al-qaidah-in-the-arabian-peninsulas-shaykh-khalid-bin-umar-bat%CC%A3arfi-abu-al-miqdad-al-kindi-stance-12/; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 17, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/909444819503734785; “New video nashid from AQAP: Burma,” Jihadology, September 17, 2017, http://jihadology.net/2017/09/17/new-video-nashid-from-al-qaidah-in-the-arabian-peninsula-burma/; “AQAP presents: Burma,” Telegram, September 17, 2017; and “Yemeni al Qaeda leader calls for attacks in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya,” Reuters, September 2, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-alqaeda/yemeni-al-qaeda-leader-calls-for-attacks-in-support-of-myanmars-rohingya-idUSKCN1BD0U8
[3] “Yemen: ICRC deplores death of civilians in Taiz,” International Committee of the Red Cross,” September 17, 2017, https://www.icrc.org/en/document/yemen-icrc-deplores-death-civilians-taiz; “Wide condemnations of the massacre of Taiz and the government calls for urgent international action,” Aden Tomorrow; September 17, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/276914/; “Three children were killed and twenty other wounded by al Houthi militia shells east of Taiz city,” Al Masdar, September 15, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/93975; “Prime Minister: The crimes of the militias in Taiz will not be subject to prescription and will be held accountable,” Saba New, September 16, 2017, http://sabanew.net/viewstory.php?id=22454; and “The Yemeni government addresses the United Nations and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Taiz massacre,” Al Masdar, September 16, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/93978.
[4] “12 civilians killed in a Saudi-led coalition raid in Ma’rib,” Al Masdar, September 16, http://www.almasdaronline.com/article/94006; and “Saudi airstrikes kill a dozen civilians in Yemen’s Ma’rib,” Press Tv, September 16, 2017, http://www.almasdaronline.com/article/94006.
[5] Song Lifang, “Al Shabaab briefly seizes border near Kenyan border,” Xinhua, September 16, 2017, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-09/16/c_136614758.htm; and Harun Maruf, “AlShabaab fighters temporarily occupy Somali town, Raid storage facility,” VOA, Septemeber 16, 2017,  https://www.voanews.com/a/al-shabab-fighters-el-wak-kenya-border/4031582.html.
[6] Hassan Istiila, “Al Shabaab kills four soldiers in central Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, September 17, 2017, http://aa.com.tr/en/africa/al-shabaab-kills-4-soldiers-in-central-somalia/912418
[7] “Somalia: Mohamed Abdi Waare elected as HirShabelle’s new President,” Garowe Online, September 16, 2017, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-mohamed-abdi-waare-elected-as-hirshabelles-new-president.
[8] “Somalia Top intelligence official killed in Mogadishu attack,” Garowe Online, September 17, 2017, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-senior-intelligence-official-killed-in-mogadishu-drive-by-shooting; and “Somali District Offical assassinated,” Radio Shabelle, September 18, 2017, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-district-official-assassinated-mogadishu/.
[9]  Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Nine killed in fighting between different branches of Somali government forces: police,” Reuters Africa, September 18, 2017, http://af.reuters.com/article/africaTech/idAFKCN1BT0GV-OZATP?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “At least six killed as rival Somali troops clash in Mogadishu,” VOA, September 16, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/at-least-six-killed-as-rival-somali-troops-clash-in-mogadishu/4031788.html.

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