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 forces kill senior AQAP leader fighting alongside Hadi government forces in Ma’rib governorate; al Houthi forces fire two ballistic missiles at southern Saudi Arabia; militants attempt to assassinate the commander of the first presidential protection brigade in Aden; Hadi government files complaint at UN Security Council against Hezbollah; Saudi-led coalition accuses UN of bias in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Sudanese intelligence chief meets Somali counterpart in Mogadishu; likely al Shabaab car bombs prompt security crackdown in Mogadishu; SNA and AMISOM forces capture Dhanaane town, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab attack SNA base near Baidoa town, Bay region; Puntland security forces storm bank in Galkayo, Mudug region; Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta travels to Washington to meet Trump

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces killed senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Ghalib al Zaidi in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen the week of August 20, according to local officials and tribal elders. Al Zaidi fought alongside forces loyal to the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. Saudi-led coalition warplanes reportedly provided air support in the area his forces were active. Al Zaidi commanded dozens of al Qaeda operatives and took part in several battles against al Houthi forces in Ma’rib. The UN Security Council sanctioned al Zaidi in 2017. He has led AQAP militants in Ma’rib since 2015. U.S. forces have bombed AQAP militants in Ma’rib on several occasions and U.S. special forces raided an AQAP compound in the governorate in May 2017.[1]

Al Houthi forces fired two Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Saudi forces in Jizan and Najran regions, southern Saudi Arabia on August 26, according to al Houthi media. Saudi armed forces did not confirm the attacks.[2]

Militants attempted to assassinate the commander of the First Presidential Protection Brigade, General Sanad al Rahwa, with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Aden on August 25. The IED detonated near the headquarters of the Saudi-led coalition in Aden but did not injure al Rahwa.[3]

The Hadi government filed a complaint to the United Nations Security Council against the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah for intervening in Yemen’s internal affairs. The Hadi government said that Hezbollah ordered the al Houthi movement to impede the September 6 UN Geneva consultations.[4]

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki accused the UN of biased reporting on airstrikes that allegedly killed 26 children in al Darayhimi district in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on August 23. Al Maliki said that UN officials based their report on false allegations and accused al Houthi forces of pressuring UN humanitarian organizations during an August 27 press conference in Riyadh.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Major General Salah Abdalla Saleh “Salah Gosh,” arrived in Mogadishu to meet with the director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) on August 27. The Sudanese NISS have reportedly agreed to train the Somali NISA as part of a Qatar-funded initiative, according to Voice of America correspondent Harun Maruf. An official NISA spokesperson confirmed the meeting but did not comment on its purpose.[6]

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb targeting a Somali security official in Mogadishu on August 27. The explosion hurt at least one person but did not kill the official. Somali police seized a car packed with explosives near the mayor’s office in Mogadishu on August 26. Somali security forces shut down main roads in Mogadishu on August 27 after the incidents.[7]

Somali National Army (SNA) forces backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces captured Dhanaane town from al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region on August 27. Al Shabaab fighters abandoned the town prior to the arrival of SNA and AMISOM forces.[8]

Al Shabaab militants attacked an SNA base in Daynuunay near Baidoa town, Bay region on August 25. Al Shabaab killed six soldiers and briefly seized the base before withdrawing. Jubbaland security forces backed by SNA forces killed nine al Shabaab militants in an operation in Burdubo district, Gedo region on August 25. The operation killed two al Shabaab commanders.[9]

Puntland security forces attacked and stormed a bank in Galkayo, Mudug region, northern Somalia on August 25. The soldiers were demanding unpaid salaries. The Puntland government has not commented on the incident.[10]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Washington D.C. on August 25 ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump on August 27. Kenyatta will be the second head of state from sub-Saharan African to meet President Trump at the White House. The two leaders are expected to discuss bolstering trade, increasing investment, and promoting regional security during the visit.[11]

[1] “Yemen tribal leaders say senior al-Qaeda leader killed,” Fox News, August 26, 2018,; “Senior al-Qaeda leader killed fighting with Yemen forces,” New York Post, August 25, 2018,; and “Ghalib Abdullah al-Zaidi,” UN, February 22, 2017,

[2] “We fired two missiles at Saudi Arabia, say Yemen’s Houthis,” Middle East Eye, August 27, 2018,; and “Yemen’s Houthis say they fire two missiles at Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, August 26, 2018,

[3] “Explosive device targets military leader convoy loyal to occupation in Aden,” al Masdar Online, August 25, 2018,

[4] “Yemen files complaint at Security Council against Hezbollah,” Asharq al-Awsat, August 27, 2018,

[5] “Arab coalition accuses UN of bias in Yemen,” the daily star, August 27, 2018,; and “Arab coalition: The UN took wrong stances based on false allegations,” al Arabiya, August 27, 2018,

[6] “Sudan’s spy chief lands in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, August 27, 2018,; “Sudanese delegation arrives in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, August 27, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 27, 2018,; and National Intelligence and Security Agency, Twitter, August 27, 2018,

[7] “Car bomb in Mogadishu wounds a woman,” Radio Shabelle, August 27, 2018,; and “Parts of Mogadishu streets locked down,” Radio Shabelle, August 27, 2018,

[8] “Somalia government forces retake Dhanaane town from Al Shabaab,” Goobjoog, August 27, 2018,

[9] “Somali army forces engage al-Shabaab militants in multiple offensives in Baidoa, southwestern Somalia,” Strategic Intelligence, August 27, 2018,; “Al-Shabaab raids SNA base near Baidoa city, soldiers killed,” Radio Shabelle, August 25, 2018,; “9 al Shabaab militants kills in Burdubo in Gedo region, Somalia,” Goobjoog, August 25, 2018,; and “Al-Shabaab attacked Somali military base in Bay region,” Radio Kulmiye, August 25, 2018,

[10] “Puntland soldiers besiege bank in Galkayo over unpaid salaries,” Goobjoog, August 25, 2018,; and “Government forces take control of Galkayo town,” Mareeg, August 25, 2018,

[11] “What Uhuru Kenyatta, Donald Trump will discuss at White House,” Daily Nation, August 27, 2018,; and “Uhuru arrives in U.S. for talks with Trump,” Daily Nation, August 26, 2018,

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