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: UN Special Envoy to Yemen plans consultations to be held in Geneva in September; AQAP attacks al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate; Saudi-led coalition denies responsibility for airstrike on hospital in al Hudaydah city; Hadi government forces attack al Houthi forces in al Jawf governorate; Hadi government security forces intercept alleged Lebanese drug shipment en route to Sana’a

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike kills four al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; ISIS “wilayat” claims to kill three SNA soldiers in Mogadishu; Ethiopian prosecutors charge five suspects for grenade attack at Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s rally

Yemen Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths announced he will invite unspecified parties to hold consultations in Geneva on September 6 during an August 2 briefing to the UN Security Council. Griffiths stated that Yemenis will discuss a framework for negotiations, confidence-building measures, and specific plans for future steps. Griffiths emphasized that women’s groups and southern parties will be key to the success of future consultations. He also emphasized that the UN should not allow events surrounding al Hudaydah to deter it from advancing negotiations to resolve the conflict. Yemeni Ambassador to the UN Ahmed bin Mubarak and Griffiths identified the release of prisoners as a key confidence-building measure for negotiations.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Emirati-backed Yemeni forces in al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on August 3. AQAP militants attacked an al Hizam Security Forces base in the district, according to local news sources. AQAP reported that its militants ambushed a convoy belonging to the Rapid Intervention Forces, a component of the al Hizam Security Forces. The attack killed a Rapid Intervention Forces commander. Al Hizam Security Forces deployed additional troops to al Mahfad district following the attack.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition denied responsibility for an August 2 airstrike on a hospital and fish market in al Hudaydah city, western Yemen. Saudi-led coalition Spokesperson Turki al Maliki stated that the coalition did not conduct any operations in al Hudaydah on August 2 and blamed the al Houthi movement for the attack. Yemeni activists shared images that indicate mortars were responsible for the attack, not airstrikes. It is still unclear which actor conducted the attack. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley referred to the attack as a Saudi-led coalition airstrike during a UN Security Council meeting on August 2, however. The attack killed 55 people. Residents also reported that strikes hit an al Houthi security facility near the hospital.[3]

Forces loyal to the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government attacked al Houthi forces in al Maslub district, southwestern al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen on August 3. Hadi government forces clashed with al Houthi forces in several areas of the district, according to al Arabiya. Al Maslub district is north of Sana’a governorate. [4]

Hadi government security forces intercepted an alleged Lebanese drug shipment in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on August 3. Hadi government forces claimed the drugs were en route to Sana’a. Hadi Minister of Information Mouammar al Aryani reported that Iran sends drugs to the al Houthi movement for use in battle and for recruitment.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted a drone strike targeting al Shabaab militants near Beled ul-Amin village, Lower Shabelle region on August 2. The drone strike killed four al Shabaab militants. AFRICOM stated that no civilians were harmed in the airstrike.[6]

ISIS claimed to have killed three Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in Elasha Biyaha area, Mogadishu on August 2. ISIS referred to Somalia as a “wilayat Somalia” in its claim. ISIS first used the “wilayat” designation for Somalia in a claim on July 27.[7]

Ethiopian prosecutors charged five suspects involved in the June 23 grenade attack at Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s rally in Addis Ababaon August 3. The attack killed two and injured 150 others.  Ethiopian prosecutors named the orchestrator of the attack as one Getu Girma and stated that Tesfaye Urgi, a former division head within the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), is under investigation for direct involvement in the attack. Police did not offer possible political motives for the attack.[8]

[1] “Martin Griffiths (Special Envoy) on the situation in Yemen - Security Council, 8323rd meeting,” UNTV, August 2, 2018,; and “The Yemeni government affirms that any solutions should not disregard its constitutional powers,” Saba New, August 2, 2018,

[2] “AQAP Claimed Wounding UAE-backed commander, killing 4 in Abyan’s al-Mahfad district,” SITE, August 3, 2018, available by subscription at; “Suspected al-Qaida gunmen attack UAE-backed Yemeni military base,” Xinhua, August 3, 2018,; YemeniObserver, Twitter, August 3, 2018,; “The commander of the rapid intervention forces of the al Hizam Security was hit in al Mahfad,” Aden Lang, August 3, 2018,; “The al Hizam Security of Abyan strengthened the al Mahfad sector,” Aden al Ghad, August 3, 2018,; and “The killing of a commander of the al Hizam Security Forces in al Mahfad and a number of his companions from a surprise attack by al Qaeda in Abyan,” al Shawa Net, August 3, 2018,      

[3] “Saudi-led coalition says Houthi behind killing of civilians in Hodeidah, Yemen,” Reuters, August 2, 2018,; “'It was a massacre': Dozens killed in Saudi air raids on Hodeidah,” al Jazeera, August 3, 2018,; “Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen,” U.S. Mission to the UN, August 2,; and Mohammed Ali Kalfood and Margaret Coker, “Saudis Escalate Siege of Port in Yemen, Alarming Aid Groups,” New York Times, August 2, 2018,

[4] “The killing of 25 Houthis in fierce fighting west of al-Jouf,” Yafa News, August 3, 2018,; and “25 Houthis killed in intense fighting in Yemen’s al-Jawf,” Al Arabiya, August 3, 2018,

[5] “Yemen’s security forces confiscate drugs coming from Lebanon to Houthis,” Al Arabiya, August 2, 2018,; and “A drug shipment was seized from Lebanon on its way to the al Houthis,” Yafa News, August 3, 2018,

[6] U.S. Africa Command, Twitter, August 3, 2018,; “US strike kills 4 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia,” Mareeg, August 3, 2018,; Mogadishu_News, Twitter, August 3, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 3, 2018,

[7] Tuuryare_Africa, Twitter, August 2, 2018,; Mogadishu_News, Twitter, August 2, 2018,; Terror Monitor, Twitter, August 2, 2018,; and “ISIL claims killing of 3 soldiers near Mogadishu,” Mareeg, August 3, 2018,

[8] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopian prosecutors to charge five over rally blast attended by PM,” Reuters, August 3, 2018,; “Ethiopia to charge five over attack at PM Abiy rally,” Al Jazeera, August 3, 2018,’ and Mahlet Fasil, “Prosecutors to charge five suspects accused of bombing at pro Abiy Ahmed rally in Addis Ababa,” Addis Standard, August 3, 2018,

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