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: Coalition-backed forces seize Zinjibar and Ja’ar towns from AQAP; coalition airstrike hits school in Sa’ada governorate; Hadi government forces advance in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate; al Houthi-Saleh missile strikes water facility in Najran city, Saudi Arabia; Yemeni parliamentarians convene in Sana’a to swear in members of new al Houthi-Saleh governing council

Horn of Africa: U.S.-backed Somali forces rumored to kill or capture al Shabaab emir near Sakow town, Middle Jubba region; clan militia kills three al Shabaab fighters near Beledweyne, Hiraan region; al Shabaab militants conduct IED attack on AMISOM convoy near Balidogle village, Lower Shabelle region; NISA forces seize SVBIED targeting Bakara market in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and supported by the Saudi-led coalition seized Zinjibar and Ja’ar in Abyan governorate from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants on August 14, according to Abyan governor al Khader Mohammed al Saidi. Hadi government forces killed 40 AQAP militants during the operation. Sudanese forces participated in the offensive, according to a Saudi source. Sudan is a member of the Saudi-led coalition.[1]
  • A Saudi-led coalition airstrike struck a school in Haydan district, Sa’ada governorate on August 13, killing at least 14 children. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the strike. Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed al Asiri said on August 14 that the strike targeted an al Houthi training camp. Coalition airstrikes also struck a residential area in Razih district, Sa’ada governorate on August 13, killing at least 19 people. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike may have struck a Doctors Without Borders-run hospital in Abs district, Hajjah governorate on August 15, according to a pro-al Houthi news outlet.[2]
  • Hadi government forces seized al Jabil area and parts of al Hamra, al Tabab, al Nakhla, and Shayhan areas in Nihm district, northeast of Sana’a governorate, on August 14, following clashes with al Houthi-Saleh forces. The coalition provided air support. The Hadi government forces are attempting to take control of the main road into al Houthi-Saleh-controlled Sana’a.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile into southern Saudi Arabia on August 14 that struck a water facility in Najran city and killed at least six people. An al Houthi news outlet reported that the missile targeted a Saudi military base in Najran. Saudi air defenses intercepted two missiles launched by al Houthi-Saleh forces on August 10.[4]
  • Members of the Yemeni parliament aligned with the al Houthi-Saleh alliance convened in Sana’a on August 13 in a show of support for the newly formed Supreme Political Council. The Yemeni parliament last convened in full two years ago, before the al Houthi takeover of Sana’a in September 2014.  The al Houthi-Saleh alliance formed the Supreme Political Council in a power-sharing agreement on July 28. Attending members of Parliament swore in eight of the Council’s proposed twenty members on August 14. Political parties that recognize the Hadi government, which operates from Aden, condemned the August 13 parliamentary session as null and void for failing to reach quorum. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi welcomed the resumption of parliament on August 15. Qassemi called the meeting “a responsible and smart move to fill in political and legal gaps” in Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces backed by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) may have killed or captured al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar, according to unconfirmed reports. U.S.-backed Somali forces reportedly conducted a series of operations targeting al Shabaab’s Shura Council near Sakow town in Middle Jubba on August 10 and 13. The reported raids killed at least 30 militants, including multiple high value targets (HVTs).[6]
  • Clan militiamen attacked al Shabaab positions near Beledweyne town in Hiraan region on August 13. The militiamen killed at least three al Shabaab fighters. Al Shabaab detained 20 elders in response to the attack. The clan may have retaliated against al Shabaab for beheading a local elder in July 2016.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Balidogle village in Lower Shabelle region on August 14. SNA and AMISOM forces launched an operation in Lower Shabelle region in response to the attack.[8]
  • Somali National Intelligence and Security (NISA) forces interdicted a suicide vehicle-borne explosive device (SVBIED) bound for the Bakara Market in Mogadishu on August 14 after receiving a tip from an unidentified source. Al Shabaab conducted an SVBIED attack on a government building in Mogadishu on July 31.[9]
[1] “Yemen army pushes al Qaeda fighters from two cities, about 40 dead,” Reuters, August 14, 2016,; and Mohammed Basha, Twitter, August 14, 2016,
[2] “UN Condemns Deadly Airstrike on Yemen School,” VOA News, August 14, 2015,; “Saudi-led coalition denies targeting Yemeni schools that killed 14 children,” CNN, August 15, 2016,; and "Aggression and his mercenaries continue to breach the ceasefire on the 127th day in a row," al Masirah, August 15, 2016,
[3] “National army liberates al Hamra and Tabab al Nakhla in Nihm east of Sana’a,” Barakish, August 15, 2016,
[4] “Missile Deployed from Yemen Kills Six Saudi Civilians in Najran,” Asharq al Awsat, August 14, 2016,; “Launch of a Zilzal 3 ballistic missile on a force base in Najran” Sabanews, August 14, 2016,; and “Saudi Arabia intercepts two missiles fired from Yemen, Al Arabiya says,” Reuters, August 10, 2016,
[5] “Yemen Lawmakers Meet in Sana’a,” VOA News, August 13, 2016,; “SPC sworn on,” Sabanews, August 14, 2016,; “Parliamentary bloc: the measures taken by the militia violated the Constitution and the law,” Sabanew, August 14, 2016,; “Iran welcomes Yemeni MPs agreement to resume parliamentary activities,” Iran Students News Agency, August 15, 2016, source available upon request; and “Yemen parliament convenes in defiance of Saudi-backed exiled government,” al Bawaba News, August 14, 2016,
[6] “US forces kill Al-Shabaab commanders in Somalia,” Shabelle News, August 15, 2016,; Abdikarim Hussein, “US forces kill al-Shabaab commanders in Southern Somalia,” Tuko News, August 15, 2016,; and Taqwa Media, Twitter, August 15, 2016,
[7] “Militia fighters attack Al Shabaab base in Somalia,” Shabelle News, August 13, 2016,; and “Al Shabaab detains 20 Elders in central Somalia,” Shabelle News, August 13, 2016,
[8] “AMISOM and government soldiers launch operations in Lower Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, August 15, 2016,
[9] “Security forces seize bomb-laden car in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, August 15, 2016,
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