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: Netherlands softens proposal for investigation into war crimes in Yemen; Transitional Political Council of the South rejects proposal to consolidate security forces under the Hadi government; AQAP and AQIM criticize Saudi Arabia; suspected AQAP militants detonate IED in Ja’ar city, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill civilians in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants capture SNA base and town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; Kenyan opposition party boycotts parliament

Yemen Security Brief

The Netherlands softened its proposal for an investigation into war crimes in Yemen by lowering the investigating entity from an international commission of inquiry to an international eminent group of experts on September 28. The Dutch-Canadian proposal endorses a UN-sponsored investigation in lieu of the current Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government National Commission and the Saudi-led coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team, which have both been criticized for partiality. The UN Human Rights Council will debate the proposal on September 28. Saudi Arabia sent letters to at least two countries stating that it will not support an independent inquiry in Yemen on September 26 and threatened that an investigation will harm diplomatic and economic relations with Saudi Arabia.[1]

Internationally recognized Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir declared security forces will be consolidated into non-regional structures on September 29. Transitional Political Council of the South spokesman Salem Thabet al Awlaqi and Vice President Hani bin Brik rejected the proposal and criticized it as a threat to their movement. The Transitional Political Council of the South is a governing entity that aims to represent southern Yemeni interests. A Southern Movement leader, Abdul Karim Qasim Faraj, supported bin Daghir’s announcement.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a joint statement criticizing Saudi Arabia and calling on all Muslims to resist the Western-backed nations on September 29. The statement, titled Warning of Doom on the Saud Rulers and Call for Truth to Emerge, condemns Saudi Arabia’s Westernization, its arrest of religious scholars, and educational reforms.[3] 

Suspected AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces at a checkpoint near a health center in Ja’ar city, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on September 29. AQAP regularly targets al Hizam troops in Abyan governorate.[4]

Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck civilian areas in Sa’ada governorate in northwestern Yemen.  Coalition airstrikes killed five civilians working on a sanitation project and destroyed houses in Sahar district, Sa’ada governorate on September 29. Sa’ada is the historic stronghold of the al Houthi movement.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants captured a Somali National Army (SNA) base and Barire town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 29, according to al Shabaab spokesman Absdiasis Abu Masab. Al Shabaab militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) at the entrance of the base before militants attacked it with small arms. SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces captured Barire, an al Shabaab stronghold, on August 19. Masab claimed the raid was revenge for a SNA-U.S. special forces raid that killed ten farmers on August 25. The town of Barire lies 50 km southwest of Mogadishu on the Mogadishu-Jilib highway.[6] 

Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) party members boycotted the Kenyan parliament after the majority Jubilee party voted to fast track new election laws in the lower chambers on September 29. NASA leaders plan to hold a demonstration at the UN headquarters in New York City on September 30 to garner international support for the October 26 Kenyan re-run election. NASA officials believe that the election reforms threaten Kenya’s democracy.[7] 

[1] John Irish and Stephanie Nebehay, “Compromise sought on U.N. Yemen inquiry as Saudi pressure mounts,” Reuters, September 29, 2017,
[2] “Awlaqi confirms the rejection of the Southern Transitional Council for the return of northern military units to the South,” Southern Transitional Council, September 29, 2017,; Ahmed bin Daghir, Facebook, September 29, 2017,; “Leading Southern Movement: Prime Minister Bin Dagir’s call for the integration of the army forces is a requirement for all,” Aden Tomorrow, September 29, 2017,; and Hani bin Brik, Twitter, September 28, 2017,
[3] “Warning of doom on the Saud rulers and call for truth to emerge,” Telegram, September 29, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 29, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 29, 2017,
[4] “A violent explosion shakes Jaar city, Abyan,” Aden Lang, September 29, 2017,; and “Aden Lang publishes the names of the injured,” Aden Lang, September 29, 2017,
[5] “Civilians wounded and killed in coalition airstrike,” Saba New, September 29, 2017,;” Pictures from coalition airstrike in Sa’ada,” Yemeni Press, September 29, 2017,; and “Casualties and wounded in airstrikes in Sa’ada,” Yemen Today, September 29, 2017,
[6] “Somalia: Al-Shabab launches deadly attack on army base,” Al Jazeera, September 29, 2017,; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalia Forces Capture Key al-Shabab Town of Bariire,” VOA, August 19, 2017,
[7] John Ngirachu and Samwel Owino, “Nasa MPs walk out of House over changes on election laws,” Daily Nation, September 29, 2017,; and Robert Abong'o, “Kenyans’ hilarious reactions after NASA supporters announce plan to demonstrate in New York,” The Standard Kenya, September 29, 2017,

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