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: STC-aligned forces seize military bases in Abyan; Hadi government meets in Riyadh to discuss response to STC seizure of Aden; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Sana’a and Sa’ada

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM conducts airstrike targeting al Shabaab in Middle Jubba region; al Shabaab conducts attacks in Middle Shabelle region and northeastern Kenya; Jubbaland and KDF forces block Ethiopian plane from landing in Kismayo

Yemen Security Brief

Al Hizam Security Forces, a southern Yemeni counterterrorism force, seized two military bases from forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on August 20. Al Hizam forces seized bases in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, which is located approximately 60 kilometers east of Aden city. Al Hizam forces and other forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, seized Aden from the Hadi government on August 10 after days of clashes. STC-aligned forces have withdrawn from some government buildings in Aden but continue to occupy military bases throughout the city.[1]

President Hadi met with senior members of his government in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on August 19 to discuss responses to the STC’s seizure of Aden. Anti-Emirati media claimed that the Hadi government is considering taking action against the UAE, which is a member of the Saudi-led coalition and a historical sponsor of the STC.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes against al Houthi command centers and munition depots in Sana'a and Sa'ada governorates in northern Yemen on August 19. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki claimed that the strikes targeted stores of ballistic missiles, drones, and other weaponry.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab near Qunyo Barrow town in Middle Jubba region in southern Somalia on August 20. The strike killed one al Shabaab militant.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base near Jowhar town in Middle Shabelle region in central Somalia on August 20. The attack caused casualties on both sides. Al Shabaab militants separately attacked Lafey town near the Somali border in Mandera County in northeastern Kenya on August 20. Al Shabaab militants clashed with Kenyan police and destroyed a telecommunications pole during the attack.[5]

Jubbaland Security Forces and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) prevented an Ethiopian plane from landing at the airport in Kismayo, a port city and the capital of Jubbaland State in southern Somalia, on August 19. A local civil aviation officer stated that an Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) unit operating in Kismayo had attempted to disrupt operations at the airport in order to allow the plane to land. Airport staff stated that the plane was not cleared to land because its crew did not provide advance notice of its arrival. Jubbaland officials reportedly feared that the plane carried ENDF troops.[6]

Visit our Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia story streams. 

[1] “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 19, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 19, 2019, ; “Clashes hit Yemen's south, Saudi-led forces strike capital,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, ; Farouk El Akhbary, Twitter, August 20, 2019, ; “Yemen: Southerners continue attack on Aden as government meets in Riyadh to discuss ways to restore its headquarters,” France 24, August 20, 2019, ; and “Yemen separatists surround two govt camps in south,” France 24, August 20, 2019,

[2] “Hadi meets his government leaders to follow up on Saudi promises to end Aden coup,” Al Jazeera, August 19, 2019,

[3] “Clashes hit Yemen's south, Saudi-led forces strike capital,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, ; “15 Air Raids on Sana’a.. And the coalition announces the beginning of a ‘quality’ military operation against the Houthis,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, August 20, 2019, ; “Arab Coalition destroy Houthi targets in Sana'a,” Emirates News Agency, August 20, 2019, ; and “#Sa’ada.. The destruction of military operations rooms and the bombing of #Houthi militia gatherings in air raids in Kitaf,” Aden Lang, August 20, 2019,

[4] “US, Federal Government of Somalia target al Shabaab with airstrike,” United States Africa Command, August 20, 2019,

[5] “Al Shabaab attack military base in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, August 20, 2019,; and “Suspected Shabaab militants destroy phone mast in Mandera,” Daily Nation, August 20, 2019,

[6] “Kismayo airport deny Ethiopian plane to land,” Goobjoog News, August 20, 2019,; “Kenyan-Ethiopian forces near clash in Kismayo as Jubbaland polls rope in neighbours,” Hiraan, August 19, 2019,; “Kenya, Ethiopian proxy War Glares Ugly Face Ahead of Jubbaland Elections,” Radio Dalsan, August 19, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 20, 2019,

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