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: Al Houthi spokesman meets Iran’s Supreme Leader in Tehran; al Houthi forces attack al Hizam forces in Lahij; al Houthi forces launch drone at Abha airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia; STC forces accused of raiding residences in Aden; UAE Crown Prince meets Saudi royals in Mecca to discuss crisis in Aden; Islamic State in Yemen and AQAP release videos criticizing each other

Horn of Africa: SNA 21st division announces operation against al Shabaab in Galmudug State; Jubbaland electoral commission and opposition group at loggerheads over parliamentarians’ participation in state elections

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi movement spokesman Mohamed Abdul Salam met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, and other senior Iranian officials in Tehran from August 11 to August 13. Abdul Salam and Foreign Minister Zarif discussed how Iran and the al Houthi movement can cooperate to reach a political solution to the Yemen conflict. Supreme Leader Khamenei criticized the involvement of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemen conflict and emphasized the need to confront the United States.[1]

Al Houthi forces attacked UAE-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Yafa’a district on the border of al Bayda and Lahij governorates in southern Yemen on August 13. Al Hizam forces repelled the attack and reinforced other parts of Lahij to defend against further al Houthi attacks.[2]

Al Houthi forces claimed to conduct a drone attack against Abha regional airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on August 13. The Saudi-led coalition claimed that the drone did not reach Abha airport and instead crashed in Amran governorate in northern Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition published photos of wreckage to support the claim.[3]

Forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, reportedly raided and looted houses in Aden, the de facto capital of Yemen, on August 12. STC Vice President Hani bin Brik denied the raids and announced that he would establish a committee to review the accusations and punish anyone involved in looting in Aden. STC-aligned forces  seized effective control of Aden from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government on August 10 after four days of clashes.[4] 

UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Mecca on August 12. Bin Zayed called on the Hadi government and STC to adhere to a ceasefire in Aden and participate in peace talks in Saudi Arabia.[5]

The Islamic State in Yemen released a video on August 11 which it claimed showed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militant in Yemen. Islamic State media previously released a video on August 7 accusing AQAP of stealing from and conspiring against local tribes in the Qayfa area in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen. AQAP media responded to that video with a video of its own on August 11 that mocked the Islamic State’s media production.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The commander of the Somali National Army (SNA)’s 21st Division announced on August 12 that the division plans to launch an operation to drive al Shabaab out of central Somalia’s Galmudug State. The SNA’s 21st division recently integrated forces from the Sufi militia Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ).

The electoral commission of Jubbaland State, which is in southern Somalia, released a list on August 12 of 73 state parliamentarians that it had selected to participate in upcoming state elections. An opposing electoral commission established by the Union of Presidential Candidates for Change, a group comprised of Jubbaland presidential candidates challenging incumbent Ahmed Madobe, released its own list of parliamentarians for the elections on August 12. The Jubbaland Electoral Commission has not recognized the opposition group’s list. Jubbaland parliamentarians are scheduled to elect the state president on August 23.[8]

Visit our YemenSaudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, and Somalia story streams. 

[1] “Ansarollah’s emphasis on strengthening Iran-Yemen relations,” IRIB News, August 11. 2019,; and “Yemen’s Ansarullah movement spokesman and delegation meet with revolutionary leader,” Khamenei, August 13, 2019,

[2] “Southern forces exterminated a Houthi group that attempted to penetrate the Yafi border,” Hadramawt Net, August 13, 2019,; “Yemeni sources: Houthi militias open a new front in Yafi, Lahj province,” El Watan News, August 13, 2019,; and Yaser al Yafai, Twitter, August 13, 2019,

[3] "Saudi-led coalition says Houthi drone 'fell' inside Yemen - Reuters," Reuters, August 13, 2019,; al Masirah, Twitter, August 13, 2019,; and Saudi Press Agency, Twitter, August 13, 2019,

[4] “The militias praise Aden and bin Zayed covers his followers’ refusal to withdraw,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, August 13, 2019,; Hani bin Brik, Twitter, August 12, 2019,; Hani bin Brik, Twitter, August 12, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 12, 2019,” Critical Threats Project, August 12, 2019,

[5] “Saudi Arabia cornerstone of region’s security: UAE,” Gulf News, August 12, 2019,

[6] “IS Supplies Video Evidence for Attack in which AQAP Denies a Fighter was Killed,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 12, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; “Yemen focused IS-aligned Media Unit Continues anti-AQAP Propaganda with Video Charging Conspiracy against IS,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 9, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; and “Using Captured Outtakes, AQAP-affiliate Mocks IS Fighters for Rehearsing and Botching Lines,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 12, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[7] “Somali Military to Launch War on al Shabaab,” Mareeg, August 13, 2019,

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 12, 2019,

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