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: Hamza bin Laden calls on Saudi citizens to overthrow Saudi government and train with AQAP; former President Saleh calls for Saudi Arabia to negotiate with al Houthi-Saleh council; Hadi-allied forces drive AQAP out of Lawder, Abyan governorate; al Houthi-Saleh rockets strike Najran city; al Houthi-Saleh forces disrupt Hadi government supply route in Taiz governorate; coalition airstrikes strike locations in Sana’a governorate

Horn of Africa: Intergovernmental Authority on Development says al Shabaab is now a regional security threat; AMISOM forces fire mortar rounds into Marka town, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Hamza bin Laden called on Saudi Arabian citizens to train with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen in order to overthrow the Saudi regime. He called for the Saudi people to “liberate” their country from American military bases and influence. Hamza bin Laden is the son of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The al Sahab Media Foundation, al Qaeda’s media wing, released Bin Laden’s statement on Telegram on August 17.[1]
  • Former Yemeni president and General People’s Congress party (GPC) leader Ali Abdullah Saleh called on Saudi Arabia to enter direct negotiations with the newly formed al Houthi-GPC Supreme Political Council on August 16. Saleh is promoting the council, formed on July 28 and approved by part of the Yemeni parliament on August 13, as the official representative of the Republic of Yemen. Saleh is attempting to bypass stalled UN-led peace talks between the al Houthi-GPC delegation and the internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Former President Saleh praised the recent al Houthi-Saleh power-sharing agreement as a “historic success.” Saleh also defended Iranian support for the al Houthi-Saleh alliance, praising Iran as “a Muslim state and a brotherly state.”[2]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces drove AQAP militants out of Lawder city and Ahwar district in Abyan governorate on August 17. The militants withdrew towards al Bayda city in al Bayda governorate, northwest of Lawder city. Government forces supported by the Saudi-led coalition seized nearby Zinjibar, Shaqra and Ja’ar cities in Abyan governorate from AQAP militants on August 14. Hadi-affiliated forces seized a large weapons cache and arrested group of suspected AQAP militants in Aden city on August 17.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired rockets targeting Saudi positions in Najran city in southern Saudi Arabia on August 16, killing at least seven civilians. The casualties included four Saudi nationals and three foreign nationals. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile toward Najran city on August 14, killing at least six people.[4]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces severed a Hadi government supply route between Taiz city and Aden city on August 17, according to a Saudi news outlet. Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi government forces in Hayfan and al Maqatirah districts, southeastern Taiz governorate on August 16. Hayfan and al Maqatirah districts are located between Taiz and Aden cities. Al Houthi-Saleh reinforcements deployed to locations between Hayjat al Abed area and al Turbah city, Taiz governorate on August 16. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched Katyusha rockets and mortars targeting locations along the Aden-Taiz road in the Hayjat al Abed area, Taiz governorate, on August 15.[5]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes struck multiple civilian sites and al Houthi-Saleh military targets in Sana’a governorate. Coalition airstrikes struck a residential area in al Madid area in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on August 16, killing at least 17 civilians. Saudi-led coalition forces launched airstrikes targeting the headquarters of the First Armored Division base in central Sana’a city on August 17. Hadi government forces supported by coalition airstrikes seized al Tiba al Bayda’ area in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on August 16.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) released a report on al Shabaab on August 15 concluding that al Shabaab has grown from a Somali threat to a regional danger. The report recommends increased coordination among IGAD security forces and intelligence services against al Shabaab.[7]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces fired mortar rounds targeting al Shabaab positions near Marka town in Lower Shabelle region on August 16. Some of the mortars may have struck nearby civilian positions. Al Shabaab and government forces have competed for control of Marka since AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) forces drove the militants from the town in 2012.[8]


[1] “Hamza bin Laden incited Saudis to overthrow regime, train with AQAP,” SITE, August 17, 2016, available by subscription through
[2] “Saleh repeats his call on Saudi Arabia to start direct negotiations and states that “we will stand fast and fight for years”,” al Masdar, August 16, 2016,; and “President Saleh addresses speech as he presides over a meeting of the General Committee, parliamentary blocs and al Shuruwiya 2016-08-16,” Yemen Today Channel, August 16, 2016,
[3] “After seizure of Zinjibar and Ja’ar...the army enters areas in Abyan to al Qaeda militants,” al Masdar, August 17, 2016,; Demolinari, Twitter, August 17, 2016,; and, “A raid on the largest stores of weapons to al-Qaeda in Aden,” Akhbar al Yemen, August 17, 2016,
[5] “Houthi militias cut off last supply route to Taiz,” al Arabiya, August 17, 2016,; “Introductions of fierce fighting between the national army and Houthi militias south of Taiz,” al Masdar, August 16, 2016,; “Coalition warplanes launched eight raids against militias Huthi positions and forces in favor of the southern Taiz,” August 17, 2016,; and “Pictures...putchist militia launches rockets on road between Taiz and Aden,” al Yaman al Araby, August 15, 2016,
[6] “Airstrike in Yemen Kills 17 Civilians, Witnesses Say,” New York Times, August 16, 2016,; “4 air strikes of coalition fighter jets targeted military sites in downtown Sanaa,” al Masdar, August 17, 2016,; and “National Army controls the strategically located Nihm amid heavy fighting,” Barakish, August 17, 2016,
[7] “Fostering Resilience, Regional Integration and Peace for Sustainable Development,” Intergovernmental Authority on Development, March 2016,
[8] “AMISOM fires mortars on residential areas in Somalia,” Shabelle News, August 16, 2016,  
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