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: American, British, and French diplomats encourage President Hadi to return to Kuwait peace talks; UN Special Envoy for Yemen arrives in Sana’a to encourage al Houthi-Saleh support for UN peace framework; government and popular resistance forces seize mountains in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate; UAE Foreign Minister emphasizes counter-AQAP fight; al Houthi-Saleh fighters clash with government and popular resistance forces in Ma’rib governorate; landmine kills Saudi border guard in Jazan, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar releases first audio message; KDF forces foil al Shabaab IED attack in Baure, Lamu County, Kenya; suspected al Shabaab militants attack police station in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Richard H. Riley, United Kingdom Charge d’Affaires Andrew Hunter and French ambassador Jean-Marc Grosgurin met with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on July 13 in Riyadh to encourage the Hadi delegation to return to Kuwait talks on July 15. President Hadi publicly stated on July 13 that the government delegation will not return to the Kuwait talks based on the roadmap presented by the Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.[1]
  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital controlled by al Houthi-Saleh forces, on July 13. Ould Cheikh Ahmed encouraged the al Houthi-Saleh delegation to implement the UN peace framework when the delegations return to peace talks in Kuwait on July 15.[2]
  • Government and popular resistance forces seized control of Mt. al Dhahab and Mt. Muhita in Nihm district, Sana’a governorate on July 13. Government and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Nihm, killing at least 17 al Houthi-Saleh fighters. At least eight government and popular resistance fighters died in the fighting.[3]
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan emphasized the UAE’s continuing role in counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen on July 11 during a meeting in Cyprus. The foreign minister did not comment on the UAE’s involvement in the Saudi-led coalition against al Houthi-Saleh forces. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to resisting Iranian influence in Yemen on June 17, after stating days earlier that the UAE’s role in the war in Yemen was “practically over.”[4]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with government and popular resistance forces in Sirwah, Ma’rib governorate near Mt. Attias on July 12. Clashes between government and al Houthi-Saleh forces have escalated across eastern Sana’a governorate and Ma’rib governorate since early July.[5]
  • A landmine possibly laid by al Houthi-Saleh forces killed a Saudi border guard in Jazan province, Saudi Arabia, near the Saudi-Yemeni border, on July 12. Al Houthi-Saleh fighters have laid landmines along the border since the beginning of the current conflict in April 2015. Al Houthi-Saleh fighters and Saudi forces have also skirmished along the border, though direct talks between the al Houthis and the Saudis de-escalated the border conflict in late March 2016.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, released his first audio message on July 12 for the Eid al Fitr holiday. The speech is Umar’s second public statement since he became the group’s emir in September 2014. Umar affirmed the group’s allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. Umar also incited Muslims in Kenya and Ethiopia to conduct lone-wolf attacks, called for Somali Muslims to join jihad, and blamed Turkey and NATO for Somalia’s financial troubles.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting a Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) convoy near Baure in Lamu County, Kenya on July 12. KDF personnel disabled the IEDs. KDF fighters pursued the fleeing al Shabaab fighters on foot.[8]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants conducted an IED attack on a police station in Waberi district, Mogadishu on July 12. The attack wounded at least one individual. Al Shabaab militants frequently target checkpoints and military targets in Mogadishu.[9]

[1] "US and European pressure to return the Yemeni government delegation to Kuwait negotiations," al Masdar, July 13, 2016,; and
"Government condition regarding return to the Kuwait negotiations," Barakish, July 13, 2016,
[2] "Urgent...Ould Cheikh arrives in Sana'a," Barakish, July 13, 2016,
[3] "National Army dominates the al Dhahab Mountain east of the capital Sanaa," Barakish, July 13, 2016,
[4] “UAE Foreign Minister: ‘We are committed to fight in Yemen’,” 7 Days, July 12, 2016,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 17, 2016,” Critical Threats Project, June 17, 2016,
[5] “Army drives hirelings out of Attias Mountain in Mareb,” Saba News, July 12, 2016,
[6] “Saudi Arabia Says Guard Killed by Land Mine on Yemen Border,” Associated Press, July 13, 2016,; and Katherine Zimmerman, “2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Report: March 30,” Critical Threats Project, March 30, 2016,
[7] “Shabaab Leader Calls for Lone-Wolf Attacks In East Africa, Incites Somali Muslims To Fight In Inaugural Audio Speech,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 12, 2016, available by subscription through; and Sam Cleaves, “Profile: Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah), AEI’s Critical Threats Project,
[8] “Kenya pursues militants after foiled Lamu ambush,” Shabelle News, July 13, 2016,
[9] “One person wounded in Waber police station blast in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, July 13, 2016,
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