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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: Saudi and Emirati delegation travels to Aden for talks with STC; Islamic State in Yemen claims assassination in Aden

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases speech by group’s media chief; al Shabaab claims attack on US forces near Kismayo

Yemen Security Brief

A delegation of Saudi and Emirati officials arrived in the de facto capital of Yemen, Aden, on August 15 in an effort to convince the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, to participate in negotiations with the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The STC seized effective control of Aden from the Hadi government on August 10 after days of clashes. The Hadi government has demanded that the STC withdraw from the positions it seized as a precondition for talks. Anti-STC media claimed that STC forces withdrew from the presidential palace in Aden on August 15. The STC separately released a statement demanding greater self-governance and an end to the deployment of northern military forces in southern Yemen on August 15.[1]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to assassinate a man in the Mansoura district of Aden on August 16. The Islamic State in Yemen also released a statement accusing the STC and Hadi government of being apostates.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s media organization released a recording of a speech by Ali Mohamed Rage aka Ali Dhere, the head of al Shabaab’s media branch, on August 11. Dhere threatened foreign institutions and governments that operate in Somalia and mocked the Somali Federal Government (SFG)’s inability to prevent attacks in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Al Shabaab separately released the third installment of its “Then Fight the Leaders of Disbelief” film series on August 14. Al Shabaab denounced governments that it views as illegitimate and justified its operations against the SFG in the film. Al Shabaab also advised Somali civilians to avoid hotels or fortified buildings frequented by foreigners or SFG officials in order to avoid al Shabaab attacks.[3]

Al Shabaab claimed to attack a vehicle carrying US forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) near Kismayo, a port city and the capital of Jubbaland State in southern Somalia, on August 15. The attack is unconfirmed.[4]

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[1] “The Southern Transitional Council issues an important political statement,” STC Aden, August 15, 2019, https://stcaden.com/news/10116; “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 12, 2019”, Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 12, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-12-2019; AFP News Agency, Twitter, August 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/AFP/status/1161976444345573381; and “The government receives the Maasheq Palace in Aden from the Transitional Council,” Yemen Akhbar, August 15, 2019, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/2075521.

[2] Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, August 16, 2019, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1162304054581780480; and “A second assassination incident in Aden and ISIS claims the operation,” 26 Sep, August 16, 2019, https://26sep.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=161010.

[3] “In Eid Al Adha Speech, Shabaab Spokesman Threatens Foreign Institutions Seeking to Extract Somali Resources,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 15, 2019, English Translation is available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.org; and Thomas Joscelyn, “Shabaab’s jihad against the ‘leaders of disbelief,’” Long War Journal, August 14, 2019, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/08/shabaabs-jihad-against-the-leaders-of-disbelief.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LongWarJournalSiteWide+%28FDD%27s+Long+War+Journal+Update%29.

[4] “Shabaab Claims Bombing U.S. Forces Outside Kismayo,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 15, 2019, English translation is available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.org.

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Yemen: Thousands rally in Aden to celebrate the STC’s takeover of the city; Yemeni Minister of Information instructs media organizations not to work with the STC

Horn of Africa: SNA forces conduct operation targeting al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region; Jubbaland president meets with UN representative, Ethiopian officials in Kismayo

Yemen Security Brief

Tens of thousands of southern Yemenis rallied in Aden, Yemen’s de facto capital, on August 15 in support of the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group. The rally commemorated the STC’s recent seizure of Aden. Southerners traveled from Abyan, Shabwah, and Hadramawt governorates to join the demonstration. The STC released a statement calling for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government to let the STC handle matters related to southern Yemen. A delegation of Saudi officials arrived in Aden later on August 15 for discussions with the STC. Saudi Arabia and President Hadi’s government have called on the STC to withdraw from the military positions it seized when it captured the city.[1]

President Hadi’s Minister of Information, Muammar al Eryani, instructed media organizations not to cooperate with the STC in Aden on August 15. Eryani referred to the STC as a rebel organization in his statement.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali National Army (SNA) conducted an operation targeting al Shabaab near Torotorow village in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on August 15.[3]

UN Special Representative for Somalia James Swan met with Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe in Kismayo, a port city and the capital of Jubbaland State in southern Somalia, on August 15. The officials discussed the upcoming Jubbaland presidential elections, which the Jubbaland electoral commission recently rescheduled from August 23 to August 19. Members of Madobe’s administration separately met with Ethiopian intelligence officials in Kismayo on August 14, according to local media sources. The Ethiopian officials requested that Jubbaland opposition candidates be permitted to register and that Somali Federal Government officials be allowed to travel to Kismayo during the elections.[4]

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[1] Fawaz Salman, “Tens of thousands rally in Yemen’s Aden to support separatists takeover,” Reuters, August 15, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/tens-of-thousands-rally-in-yemens-aden-to-support-separatist-takeover-idUSKCN1V512N; “People of the south announce unequivocal support to the steps of the southern forces and the Transitional Council to establish security and protect citizens and renew their mandate to President al Zubaidi, STC Aden, August 15, 2019, https://stcaden.com/news/10113;  “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 14, 2019,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 14, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, August 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1161941764296597504; “Yemeni official says no talks before separatists withdraw in Aden,” Al Jazeera, August 14, 2019; Anuj Chopra, Twitter, August 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/AnujChopra/status/1161978726063714304.

[2] “Minister of Information instructs media organizations not to cooperate with the rebels in Aden,” Saba New, August 14, 2019, https://www.sabanew.net/viewstory/52871.

[3] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1161985001552044033.

[4] “Madobe rejects Ethiopian intelligence demand on Jubbaland election affairs,” Goobjoog, August 15, 2019, http://goobjoog.com/english/madobe-rejects-ethiopian-intelligence-demand-on-jubbaland-election-affairs/; “Jubbaland Electoral Body Announce New Schedule for Presidential Poll,” Radio Dalsan, August 14, 2019, https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/2019/08/15/jubbaland-electoral-body-announce-new-schedule-for-presidential-poll/; and Garowe Online, Twitter, August 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/radiogarowe/status/1161962263437348864.

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Yemen: STC calls for massive demonstration in Aden; Yemeni Interior Minister announces dismissal of security commanders in southern Yemen; STC-aligned forces conduct raids in Aden; Hadi government-aligned forces clash with al Houthi forces east of Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks SNA and AMISOM base with SVBIEDs in Awdheegle town; SNA claims to injure al Shabaab media chief in raid near Awdheegle; South Korea deploys destroyer to Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy mission

Yemen Security Brief

The Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist organization, announced that it will hold a massive demonstration in Aden, Yemen’s de facto capital, on August 15. STC leaders in Shabwah, Hadramawt, and Abyan governorates announced that thousands of STC supporters are traveling to Aden to participate in the march. The STC seized effective control of Aden from the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on August 10 after days of clashes.[1]

President Hadi’s Interior Minister, Ahmed al Maysiri, announced the dismissal of multiple security force commanders in Aden whom he accused of collaborating with the STC on August 14.  Al Maysiri dismissed the directors of the Aden and Lahij governorate police forces as well as the commander of the Special Security Forces in Aden, Lahij, Abyan, and Dhaleh governorates. Al Maysiri announced that he would fill the positions with Interior Ministry employees. Al Maysiri also called for investigations into the dismissed security commanders over their alleged involvement in the STC takeover of Aden.[2]

STC-aligned security forces conducted a series of raids against unidentified targets in Aden on August 14. STC-aligned forces also reportedly banned Aden residents from carrying weapons in the city. STC-aligned al Hizam Security Forces in Dofes city in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen separately claimed to intercept a weapons shipment from Ma’rib governorate on August 14. Al Hizam forces claimed that the weapons were en route to Aden.[3]

Hadi government-aligned forces claimed to kill 36 al Houthi soldiers, including 10 field commanders, in clashes along the Nihm front in Sana’a governorate east of the al Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on August 13 and 14.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack on a Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Awdheegle town in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on August 13. Al Shabaab attacked the base with two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs). The attack killed at least three people. Somali Danab special forces and AMISOM forces seized Awdheegle town from al Shabaab on August 6. Al Shabaab had historically used the town to stage attacks against Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.[5]

The SNA claimed that had it injured the head of al Shabaab’s media branch, Ali Mohamed Rage aka Ali Dhere, in an operation in the Sham area on the outskirts of Awdheegle on August 11. The SNA claimed that it killed 17 other militants in the operation, which AMISOM also participated in.[6]

South Korea deployed a destroyer to the Gulf of Aden on August 13. The destroyer will conduct anti-piracy operations in the region over the next six months as part of a routine deployment.[7]

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[1] “Al Awlaki: Shabwah crowds will go to Aden to support the victories of southern forces,” Hadramawt Net, August 14, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/alyamanalarab/7125168/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86---%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%88%D9%84%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%86-%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9.html; “Southern calls to mobilize a million to meet and support the transition steps,” Hadramawt Net, August 14, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/alyamanalarab/7125170/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86---%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AC%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AD%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%AA%D8%A3%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A.html; and “Massive crowds from Hadramawt head towards the capital Aden,” Hadramawt Net, August 14, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/aden-time/7125264/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%85---%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%86%D8%AD%D9%88-%D8%BA%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%82-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AB%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B6%D9%80%D8%B1%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%84%D9%82-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%86.html.

[2] “Interior Minister topples coup security leaders in Aden, Lahij and Dhaleh,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, August 14, 2019, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/141592.

[3] “The security of Aden launches a security campaign to clear the capital of terrorist elements and outlaws,” SMA News, August 14, 2019, https://smanews.org/news/146061; “The security belt in Dofes seizes weapons and explosives from Ma’rib to Aden,” Hadramawt Net, August 14, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/aden-time/7125268/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86---%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%81%D8%B3-%D9%8A%D8%B6%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A9-%D9%88%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%80%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%86.html; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 12, 2019,” Critical Threats Project, August 12, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-12-2019.

[4] “Battles ignite east of Sana’a, killing and wounding more than 100 Houthis,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, August 14, 2019, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/141597; and “Yemeni Army: 36 Houthi militias killed in 48 hours,” Al Arabiya, August 14, 2019, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/08/14/Yemeni-army-36-Houthi-militias-killed-in-48-hours.html.

[5] “Deadly suicide attack hits military base in Somalia,” Mareeg, August 14, 2019, https://mareeg.com/deadly-suicide-attack-hits-military-base-in-somalia/; “Car bomb hits government military base in southern Somalia residents,” Radio Kulmiye, August 14, 2019, https://radiokulmiye.net/2019/08/14/car-bombs-hit-government-military-base-in-southern-somalia-residents/; Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 14, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1161589141412438016; and “Shabaab Claims Killing Over 50 Somali Special Forces Amidst 2-Man Suicide Attack and Raid in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 14, 2019, English translation is available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.org; ; “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 7, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 7, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-7-2019.

[6] “Al Shabaab spokesman, Ali Dhere wounded in fighting,” Radio Kulmiye, August 14, 2019, https://radiokulmiye.net/2019/08/14/al-shabaab-spokesman-ali-dhere-wounded-in-fighting/; and “Somali Army targets al Shabaab spokesman, 17 killed,” Mareeg, August 14, 2019, https://mareeg.com/somali-army-targets-al-shabaab-spokesman-17-killed/.

[7] “Korea to deploy troops to Somali water for anti-piracy efforts,” Goobjoog, August 13, 2019, http://goobjoog.com/english/korea-to-deploy-troops-to-somali-waters-for-anti-piracy-efforts/; and “South Korea to deploy troops to Somali waters amid speculation over Hormuz Strait mission,” Horn Diplomat, August 13, 2019, https://www.horndiplomat.com/2019/08/13/south-korea-to-deploy-troops-to-somali-waters-amid-speculation-over-hormuz-strait-mission/.

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