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 drones attack Saudi oil field near UAE border; al Houthi movement appoints ambassador to Tehran; STC-aligned forces withdraw from some government buildings in Aden

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab spokesperson rumored dead; al Shabaab attacks SNA bases in Bay and Lower Shabelle regions; unidentified aircraft conduct airstrikes in Lower Shabelle; suspected al Shabaab militants conduct IED attack in Lower Shabelle; Galmudug State police and ASWJ forces clash in Dhusamareb

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement attacked an oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia with multiple drones on August 17. The al Houthi movement claimed that ten drones had targeted the Shaybah oilfield near the UAE border and said that the attack was the “largest attack” in the history of the Yemen conflict. Saudi Aramco acknowledged that the attack had created a fire at the oilfield.[1]

The al Houthi movement named its first ambassador to Iran and sent a diplomatic delegation to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran on August 18. The UK, Italian, French, and German ambassadors to Iran attended a meeting with the al Houthi delegation hosted by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 18. President Hadi’s government criticized the al Houthi movement for naming an ambassador to Iran and stated that the al Houthi movement has no legal standing to do so.[2]

Yemeni security forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, withdrew from some government buildings in Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, on August 17. STC-aligned forces seized Aden from the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on August 10 after several days of clashes. Saudi-led coalition warplanes fired flares over camps occupied by STC-aligned forces on August 17 after the Saudi-led coalition had reiterated its calls for the STC to abandon the positions it had seized in Aden. The STC acknowledged that it withdrew from certain government buildings as part of an agreement with the coalition but insisted that it would not vacate government military camps in Aden.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A Somali security official claimed on August 16 that al Shabaab media chief and spokesperson Ali Mohamed Rage aka Ali Dhere had succumbed to injuries and died in Somalia. The Somali National Army (SNA) previously claimed to have injured Ali Dhere during an operation near Awdheegle town in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on August 11.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked an SNA base in Daynunay area near Baidoa town, the capital of Bay region in southern Somalia, on August 17. The militants briefly entered the base before the SNA regained control. Al Shabaab militants separately attacked an SNA base in Barire town in Lower Shabelle region on August 18. The SNA claimed to repulse the attack and kill 20 al Shabaab militants.[5]

Unidentified aircraft conducted multiple airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Mubarak and Janale towns in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on August 16. SNA officials claimed that the strikes killed 21 al Shabaab militants.[6]

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Somali Federal Government (SFG) officials in Daynile town in Lower Shabelle region on August 17. The explosion injured three civilians.[7]

Galmudug State police clashed with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) militia forces in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug State in north-central Somalia, on August 17. The forces clashed outside a compound that is set to host an SFG-brokered reconciliation conference for political factions in Galmudug. ASWJ forces have recently agreed to integrate into the SNA’s 21st Division.[8]

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Iran story streams.

[1] “Houthi drone attack on Saudi oilfield causes gas fire, output unaffected,” Reuters, August 17, 2019,; “Drone attack by Yemen rebels sparks fire in Saudi oil field,” Al Jazeera, August 17, 2019,; “In the largest attack of its kind…the drone air force targets oil refinery and oil field on the Saudi-Emirati border, Al Masirah, August 17, 2019,; Al Masirah, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; Al Masirah, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; and “Saudi Arabia: Terror Attack on the Shaybah gas field,” Sky News Arabic, August 17, 2019,

[2] “In a new escalation, Iran welcomes al Houthi delegation,” Sky News Arabic, August 18, 2019,; Rob Macaire, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; Mohammed Hatam, “Yemen Shiite Rebels Appoint an Ambassador to Iran for First Time,” Bloomberg News,; Al Masirah, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; “Yemen slams al Houthi appointment of ‘ambassador’ to Tehran,” Gulf News, August 18, 2019,

[3] Mohammed Mukhashef and Maher Chmaytelli, “Yemeni separatists quit some of Aden posts; Houthis attack Saudi oil plant,” Reuters, August 17, 2019,; “Yemen government set to meet in Riyadh for crisis talks,” Gulf News, August 19, 2019,; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; and Saudi Press Agency, Twitter, August 16, 2019,

[4] A A Warsame, “Somalia’s al Shabaab Spokesman is Dead,” August 6, 2019,

[5] “Somali Military Says al Shabaab attack foiled, 20 killed,” Mareeg, August 19, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; and Abdirasik M Tuuryare, “Somali Military Official Shot Dead in Jowhar town,” Mareeg, August 18, 2019,

[6] “Two airstrikes in southern Somalia kill ’21 militants’,” Garowe, August 17, 2019,

[7] Abdirisak M Tuuryare, “Somalia at least 3 people injured in Mogadishu Explosion,” Mareeg, August 17, 2019,;  and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 17, 2019,

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 17, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – July 5, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, July 5, 2019,

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