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: CNN investigation reveals U.S. supplied bomb used in Saudi-led coalition airstrike on school bus; southern Yemeni separatists attack military graduation ceremony in Aden; Hadi government forces seize strategic hilltops from al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate; Hadi government forces shoot down al Houthi drone in Hajjah governorate; Saudi air defenses intercept al Houthi Badr-1 missile over Najran; Hadi government forces continue push through al Durayhimi district south of al Hudaydah; al Jazeera reports Saudi Arabia plans to build oil port in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: SNA arrests al Shabaab finance minister and Amniyat commander for Middle Shabelle; Puntland forces retake strategic town in northern Somalia from al Shabaab; SNA seizes villages from al Shabaab in Marka, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab attacks Kenyan police post in Ijara District, Garissa County, Kenya; Puntland insists it will retake disputed town from Somaliland

Yemen Security Brief

CNN reported on August 17 that the bomb used in an August 9 Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a Yemeni school bus was produced by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin reportedly sold the munition to Saudi Arabia in a U.S. State Department-sanctioned deal. The August 9 airstrike killed 51 people including 40 children and prompted strong criticism from senior U.S. lawmakers.[1]

Southern Yemeni separatists attacked a graduation ceremony at the Salah al Din Military College in Aden on August 18. The attack killed one cadet and injured two others. The attackers reportedly targeted the academy because it flew the flag of unified Yemen instead of a southern Yemeni flag. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi called for the prosecution of two southern separatist military leaders, Munir Mahmoud Ahmed al Mashali and Nasser Rajeh al Ba’wa, in response to the shooting. The attack comes amid escalating tensions between the Hadi government and southern secessionists. The president of the Transitional Political Council for the South threatened on August 10 to seize  al Hudaydah port in western Yemen if UN-led talks failed to meet southerners’ demands.[2]

Hadi government forces seized several strategic hilltops in al Malajim district, al Bayda governorate on August 20. Hadi government forces launched an offensive against al Houthi forces in al Bayda in central Yemen last week.[3]

Hadi government forces shot down an al Houthi surveillance drone in Hayran district, Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen on August 19. The drone was flying over military positions when government forces shot it down. Hadi government forces seized Hayran district on August 17.[4]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr-1 ballistic missile at a Saudi military target in western Najran province, southern Saudi Arabia. Al Houthi media stated on August 20 that the missile targeted a new Saudi camp. The Saudi-led coalition spokesman said that Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile on August 17. The Saudi-led coalition claimed to destroy al Houthi surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in Sana’a on August 18.[5]

Hadi government forces continued to push through al Durayhimi district south of  Hudaydah city and seized the district police station and local council on August 19. Al Durayhimi is located approximately 20 kilometers south of the al Hudaydah.[6]

Al Jazeera reported that Saudi Arabia is preparing to build a port for oil extraction and exportation in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on August 20. Al Jazeera published a letter allegedly written by the Saudi company Huta Marine to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen. The letter thanked the ambassador for requesting a financial and technical proposal for a port in al Mahrah. Saudi and Emirati forces are deployed in al Mahrah.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers arrested two senior al Shabaab commanders in Middle Shabelle region in August. The SNA 27th Division arrested Omar Qadim Herow, al Shabaab’s finance minister, and Mohamed Bashir, the regional head of al Shabab’s Amniyat intelligence brigade in Middle Shabelle region.[8]

Puntland security forces recaptured the town of Af Urur from al Shabaab on August 17. Al Shabaab militants reportedly fled the town without a fight. Al Shabaab captured Af Urur in July. The town lies on the road linking the port of Boosaaso and the administrative capital of Garowe in Puntland.[9]

SNA forces cleared al Shabaab fighters from several suburbs of Marka town in Lower Shabelle region on August 19. SNA forces recaptured the villages of Lusiya, Obasibi, and El Haji in Marka. SNA forces with the support of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces have launched several operations against al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle in recent weeks.[10]

Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan police camp in Ijara District, Garissa County, Kenya on August 20. Officers from the Rural Border Patrol Unit occupying the camp returned fire, injuring multiple al Shabaab militants.[11]

The Puntland administration dismissed suggestions of a peace agreement with Somaliland over disputed towns in Sool region including the town of Tuko Raq on August 19. Puntland Information Minister Abdi Hirsi Ali ruled out any agreement with Somaliland and stated that Puntland was committed to retaking the region by force. Puntland and Somaliland began fighting over the disputed town of Tuko Raq in January 2018.[12]

[1] “Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by the U.S.,” CNN, August 17, 2018,; and “Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report,” The Hill, August 19, 2018,

[2] Mohamad Mokhasef and Mohammed Ghobari, “Yemen’s southern separatists attack military academy in Aden,” Reuters, August 8, 2018,;  Saeed al Batati, Twitter, August 18, 2018,; “The President of the Republic directs those who are involved in the attack on the Military College in Aden to be brought to justice,” President Hadi-Gov-Ye, August 18, 2018,; and “Threat Update: August 17, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 17, 2018,

[3] “Troops move against Al Houthis in central Yemen,” Gulf News, August 20, 2018,

[4] “Troops move against Al Houthis in central Yemen,” Gulf News, August 20, 2018,

[5] Maher Chmaytelli, “Yemen’s Houthi group says it fired missile at Saudi Arabia’s Najran province,” Reuters, August 20, 2018,; “Missile forces fire Badr 1 missile at Saudi army base in western Najran,”, August 20, 2018,; “Coalition: We intercepted a Houthi missile over Najran,” al Arabiya, August 18, 2018,; and “Arab coalition destroys SAM 6 air defense system of Houthi militia in Sanaa,” Al Arabiya, August 18, 2018,

[6] “Yemeni resistance forces press home advantage in Al Durayhami,” Emirates News Agency, August 19, 2018,; and “Yemeni forces control Hodeida gateway,” Gulf News, August 19, 2018,

[7] “Saudi Arabia ‘to build oil port’ in Yemen’s al Mahra: sources,” Al Jazeera, August 20, 2018,

[8] “Government forces nab Al-Shabaab commanders during operations in Middle Shabelle,” Halbeeg, August 19, 2018,; and “Al Shabaab commander, Amniyat leader in Middle Shabelle arrested by SNA troops,” Strategic Intelligence, August 20, 2018,

[9] “Puntland forces recapture strategic town,” Reuters, August 20, 2018,; and “Puntland security forces reclaim town from al Shabaab,” Radio Shabelle, August 17, 2018,

[10] “SNA dislodges al-Shabaab from Marka town,” Halbeeg, August 20, 2018,; and “Somali Army forces dislodge al-Shabaab combatants from Marka town in Lower Shabelle region,” Strategic Intelligence, August 20, 2018,

[11] “Al-Shabaab attempted attack on Ijara RBPU campb repulsed,” Strategic Intelligence, August 20, 2018,

[12] “Puntland denies peace deal with Somaliland over Tukaraq,” Garowe Online, August 19, 2018,

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