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: Demonstrators rally in support al Houthi-Saleh power-sharing council in Sana’a; former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh offers Russia access to Yemeni military sites; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target AQAP in Abyan; U.S. announces reduced personnel support for the Saudi-led coalition

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab conducts double SVBIED attack on government facility in Galkayo, Mudug region; al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan border camp near Lafey town, Mandera County, Kenya; al Shabaab launches mortar and grenade attacks in Mogadishu; Kenyan officials reverse plans to close Dadaab refugee camp by 2016

Yemen Security Brief

  • Supporters of the al Houthi movement and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh demonstrated in support of the newly formed Supreme Political Council in Sana’a on August 20. At least one hundred thousand people demonstrated in al Sabeen square in central Sana’a city. Chairman of the Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad announced at the rally that the Council will form a government “in the coming days.” The al Houthi political wing, Ansar Allah, signed an official power-sharing agreement with the General People’s Congress (GPC), a political party affiliated with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, on July 28.[1]
  • Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered the Russian Federation access to Yemen’s bases, airports, and ports on August 21. Saleh cited possible operations to “combat terrorism” for his offer, in an interview with a state-run Russian news outlet. Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov met Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on August 21. Bogdanov also held separate meetings in Jeddah with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and the Foreign Minister for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi.[2]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) positions in a mountainous region in al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate on August 20. Hadi government-allied forces cleared nearby Lawder, Zinjibar and Ja’ar towns in Abyan governorate of AQAP militants on August 14-17.[3]
  • The United States reduced the number of and location of military personnel advising the Saudi-led coalition in June 2016, according to an announcement by U.S. Navy spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey on August 19. Fewer than five U.S. service members presently work with Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen. Forty-five full-time personnel previously supported the Saudi-led campaign in Riyadh. The U.S. advisers also moved from Riyadh to Bahrain in June. U.S. officials denied a link between the U.S. personnel changes and the rise in civilian casualties caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump asserted that U.S. cooperation with the coalition is “modest” and not “a blank check."[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a double suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack targeting a local government facility in Galkayo town in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on August 21. The blast killed at least 20 civilians and wounded 30 others. Puntland security forces launched clearing operations and imposed a curfew on August 22 in response to the attack. Al Shabaab conducted an explosive attack targeting Puntland officials in Galkayo in March 2016.[5]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan border patrol camp with small arms fire near Lafey town in Mandera County, Kenya on August 20. Kenyan security forces repulsed the attack. No casualties were reported.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants fired mortars striking the Somali Ministry of Transportation building in Shangani district of Mogadishu on August 21. Al Shabaab militants also attacked a police checkpoint in the Karan district of Mogadishu with grenades on August 21. The grenade blast wounded at least one Somali National Army (SNA) soldier and one civilian.[7]
  • Kenya rescinded its plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of 2016. Officials cited the tenuous security situation in Somalia. U.S. officials opposed the timeframe of the closure. Kenyan officials announced the change the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Nairobi to discuss security concerns with eight African nations.[8]


[1]“Hundreds of Thousands in Yemen March in Support of Rebels,” The New York Times, August 20, 2016,; “Mass rally in Yemen in defiance of Saudi airstrikes,” Deutsche Welle, August 20, 2016,; and “Al-Sammad: SPC formation meets Yemeni people’s will,” Sabanews, August 20, 2016,
[2] “Interview of leader Ali Abdullah Saleh with the Radio and Television Russia 21-08-2016,” Yemen Today, August 21, 2016,; “Saleh: we are prepared to co-operate with Russia to combat terrorism,” al Jazeera, August 22, 2016,; “Mohammed bin Salman speaks with Russian president’s envoy for issues in the region,” Okaz, August 22, 2016,; “Bogdanov in Saudi Arabia...Russia is seeking a greater role in the Yemen file,” Barakish, August 22, 2016,; and “Russia supports legitimacy, peace in Yemen,” Bahrain News Agency, August 21, 2016,
[3] “Alliance strikes al Qaeda positions in Mahfid in Abyan,” Barakish, August 20, 2016,
[4] “Exclusive: U.S. withdraws staff from Saudi Arabia dedicated to Yemen planning,” Reuters, August 19, 2016,; and “US military distances itself from Saudi-led war in Yemen,” CNN, August 20, 2016,
[5] “Update: 13 people killed in Galkayo twin explosions,” Goobjoog News, August 21, 2016,; “Update: 20 killed in twin explosions in northern Somalia, Goobjoog News, August 21, 2016,; “Twin bomb explosions hit police station in Galkayo, northern Somalia,” Goobjoog News, August 21, 2016,; “Puntland forces launch operations in Galkaayo,” Goobjoog News, August 22, 2016,; and “Al-Shabab claims double suicide bombing in Somalia,” Al Jazeera, August 22, 2016,
[6] “Kenyan police foils Al Shabaab attack in Mandera,” Shabelle News, August 22, 2016,
[7] “Somalia: Mortars land at transport ministry building,” Shabelle News, August 21, 2016,; and “Two hurts as Blast hits army Checkpoint in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, August 22, 2016,
[8] “Kenya reverses position to close Dadaab camp this year until Somalia stabilises,” Goobjoog news, August 21, 2016,
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