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: AQAP-linked militants assassinate three al Houthi officials in Sana’a city; Hadi government forces seize locations from al Houthi-Saleh fighters in northern and western Taiz city; security forces capture three AQAP militants in Aden; President Hadi meets with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in Riyadh; MSF to evacuate staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Pentagon spokesman refutes al Shabaab claim of U.S. casualty in August 10 raid; U.S. Secretary of State to discuss upcoming elections with Somali officials in Kenya; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate SVBIED in Mogadishu, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Members of Ansar al Sharia, the insurgent arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), detonated two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting three al Houthi officials in Sana’a city on August 19. The blasts killed at least 12 people, including the three officials. AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack, described as a “unique event,” on Telegram on August 19. Ansar al Sharia and AQAP militants fight alongside local forces against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz, al Bayda and Ibb governorates in central Yemen, but attacks in Sana’a are rare. The last confirmed Ansar al Sharia attack on al Houthi leaders in Sana’a city occurred on January 25, 2015.[1]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and anti-al Houthi popular resistance forces seized locations in northern and western Taiz city from al Houthi-Saleh forces on August 19. Hadi-allied forces seized Ghirab area, al Zunooj area, 50th Street near the 35th Armored Brigade Base, and al Madrasa and al Dhanin areas overlooking the western road into central Taiz city, according to pro-Hadi news outlets. Hadi government-allied forces may be close to clearing an al Houthi-Saleh blockade of western Taiz. The southern road to Aden remains contested, however. The clashes killed at least 40 al Houthi-Saleh fighters and 12 popular resistance fighters, according to a Hadi government military officer.[2]
  • Hadi government-allied security forces captured three AQAP militants in Aden city on August 19. The militants were in the process of fleeing Abyan governorate. Hadi government-allied popular resistance forces cleared Lawder city, Abyan governorate of AQAP militants on August 17 and Zinjibar and Ja’ar towns on August 14.[3]
  • Saudi-backed President Abdu Rabbu Mansur Hadi met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson in Riyadh on August 18. He said that military operations against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz will continue. President Hadi vowed to “cleanse the country from the evil” of the al Houthi-Saleh alliance.[4]
  • Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced on August 18 that it will evacuate its staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen. Staff will evacuate Abs and al Gamouri hospitals in Hajjah governorate, and Haydan, Razih, al Gamouri and Yasnim hospitals in Sa’ada governorate. MSF cited a lack of “credible assurances that parties...will respect the protected status of medical facilities.” Saudi-led coalition airstrikes struck an MSF-supported hospital in Abs district, Hajjah governorate on August 15, killing 19 people and injuring 24 others.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Pentagon spokesman refuted the al Shabaab claim that militants killed a U.S. soldier during a U.S.-backed Somali Special Operations Forces (SOF) raid in Sakow town, Middle Jubba region on August 10. Somali SOF killed three al Shabaab militants during the raid. U.S. and Somali officials have not confirmed the identities of the al Shabaab casualties.[6]
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Kenya on August 22 as part of a larger trip to Africa and the Middle East. Kerry is expected to discuss the upcoming Somali elections with leaders from Kenya, South Sudan, and Somalia. Somali parliamentary elections are scheduled to begin on September 10. Somali officials already delayed the elections once.[7]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-born improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting a security checkpoint in Mogadishu on August 18. The blast killed one woman and wounded at least four others. Somali National Intelligence and Security (NISA) forces interdicted an SVBIED intended for Bakara market in Mogadishu on August 15.[8]
[1] “AQAP claims killing three Houthi officials in ‘unique operation’ in Sana’a,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 19, 2016, available by subscription through; and “AQAP claims joint attack with Marib tribes on Houthis, killing Houthi leader in Sana’a,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 30, 2015, available by subscription through
[2] “Battles continue in Taiz and the government forces advance in the west and seize al Ghirab and al Dhabab,” al Masdar, August 18, 2016,; “Twelve resistance fighters dead in Taiz battles and military source states that 40 al Houthis dead,” al Masdar, August 18, 2016,; “Yemen army launches bid to break rebel siege of Taez,” Agence France Presse, August 18, 2016,; and “Urgent...New victories popular resistance and the national army in Taiz,” Akhbar al Yemen, August 19, 2016,
[3] “Aden security forces capture three al Qaeda militants after their escape from Abyan governorate (photos),” Yemen Press, August 19, 2016,
[4] “President Hadi: continuing military operations against the coup until the restoration of the legitimacy,” al Masdar, August 18, 2016,
[5] “Yemen: Indiscriminate bombings and unreliable reassurances from Saudi-led coalition force MSF to evacuate staff from six hospitals in the north,” Medecins Sans Frontieres, August 18, 2016,
[6] “US denies one of its soldiers killed in Somalia attack,” Shabelle News, August 19, 2016,
[7] “U.S. and Kenya to discuss Somali political transition,” Shabelle News, August 19, 2016,
[8] “Two people wounded in Car bomb Attack in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, August 19, 2016,; and “Mogadishu car blast kills one, four injured,” Goobjoog News, August 19, 2016,  
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