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: Militants detonate two SVBIEDs in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; UN Special Envoy for Yemen announces resumption of Kuwait talks; popular resistance and government forces may launch offensive on Amran; reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants in Shabwah; security services seize explosive materials from AQAP operatives in Lahij; government forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh fighters south of Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Puntland and Somaliland forces clash in Sanaag region; al Shabaab forces and AMISOM troops still competing for control of Marka town, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants temporarily seize Qoryooley in Lower Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants attack SNA checkpoint in Mogadishu; Somalia announces plans to obtain six warships

Yemen Security Brief

  • Militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) targeting government checkpoints manned by soldiers loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on July 18 in al Ghabr and al Burum districts, al Mukalla city, killing at least ten soldiers and four civilians. Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants attacked military targets in al Mukalla with SVBIEDs on June 26.[1]
  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed withdrew his previous roadmap to resolve the Yemeni conflict and stated that peace talks will resume for two weeks. Talks were previously suspended on June 29 and scheduled to resume on July 15. The new round of negotiations will focus on strengthening the ceasefire, negotiating the withdrawal and disarmament of al Houthi-Saleh forces, and reestablishing state institutions. The Hadi government delegation arrived in Kuwait on July 16. The al Houthi-General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation arrived in Kuwait on 15 July and reiterated its refusal to discuss disarmament before the formation of a unity government. Representatives of Ansar Allah, the al Houthi political party, stated that political dialogue is the only way to resolve the present conflict in a meeting with senior Kuwaiti officials on July 17.[2]
  • Popular resistance and government forces are reportedly mobilizing in al Jawf governorate in preparation for an offensive to seize Amran governorate from the al Houthi-Saleh alliance. Forces loyal to President Hadi would enter Amran governorate from al Matun, al Jawf, near Amran. Coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Matun on July 12.[3]
  • Reported U.S. airstrikes killed three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Shabwah governorate on July 16. U.S. Central Command confirmed its responsibility for two strikes targeting AQAP operatives in Shabwah governorate on July 1 and July 4. AQAP operates in southern, central, and eastern Yemen.[4]
  • Aden security services raided the home of an AQAP leader and seized weapons and explosive materials in al Diba, Lahij governorate near Aden city on July 18. Hadi government security forces also seized a weapons cache in a home in al Hamra district, Lahij governorate on July 15.[5]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Hayfan district, Taiz city on July 17, killing at least eight al Houthi-Saleh fighters. Both sides continue to actively contest Taiz, which has been disputed since April 2015.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somaliland security forces clashed with Puntland security forces near Badhan in Sanaag region on July 18. The fighting, which reportedly involved artillery and heavy weaponry, killed at least one soldier. Somaliland, a self-declared state that functions as an autonomous region of Somalia, continues to dispute parts of Sanaag and Sool regions with the semi-autonomous Puntland State in northern Somalia.[7]
  • Al Shabaab fighters and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces are competing for control of Marka in Lower Shabelle region. AMISOM forces withdrew from the port city on July 13 and al Shabaab subsequently released photos of its militants parading through the town. AMISOM spokespersons claim that coalition forces have regained control of Marka on July 18. It is likely that al Shabaab and AMISOM control portions of the 230,000-person city.[8]
  • Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Qoryooley town in Lower Shabelle region on July 18. AMISOM forces expelled al Shabaab fighters from Qoryooley on July 18. AMISOM forces killed at least two al Shabaab fighters and wounded three others.[9]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants conducted a grenade attack on a Somali National Army (SNA) checkpoint in Afgoi in Lower Shabelle region on July 18. The attack killed one SNA soldier and wounded at least one other.[10]
  • The Somali government announced a plan to acquire six warships from the Atlantic Offshore Company to better defend Somali territorial waters from piracy, illegal fishing, and illicit importation. Somali ambassador to the European Union Ali Said Faqi will oversee the purchase of the ships. Somalia last possessed functioning naval forces in 1991.[11]

Corrections: A previous version of the Gulf of Aden Security Review stated that the SVBIED attack in al Mukalla targeted soldiers from al Dhaleh governorate. The soldiers were actually from Hadramawt governorate. A previous version also stated that the Hadi government delegation had not yet arrived to the Kuwait talks. The delegation actually arrived on July 16.

[1] "Full details of twin suicide attacks in al Mukalla - Photos," Barakish, July 18, 2016,; and “Ali al Kathiri: the sons of Dali and Radfan with their fellow Sons of Hadramout managed to foil the scheme that killed dozens in Mukalla,” Aden Ghad, July 18, 2016,
[2]  “Houthis Defy International Will, Ould Cheikh Ahmed Adheres to UNSCR 2216 at Kuwait Talks,” Ashaqr al Awsat, July 18, 2016,; “Yemeni government delegation arrives in Kuwait to resume consultations for Yemeni peace,” KUNA, July 16, 2016,; “Houthi demands threaten failure of Kuwait consultations,” Barakish, July 18, 2016,; abdusalamsalah, Twitter, July 15, 2016,; and “Yemen's Ansarullah: Political dialogue the only way out of conflict in violence-wracked Arab state,” Ahlul Bayt News Agency, July 18, 2016,   
[3] “Yemeni army start battle to free Amran from al Houthis,” Aden Ghad, July 18, 2016,; and “Saudi-led war jets wage two raids on Jawf,” Saba News, July 12, 2016,
[4] “Drone strike kills 3 Qaeda suspects in Yemen,” al Arabiya, July 17, 2016,; and "July 8: CENTCOM announces Yemen counterterrorism strikes," U.S. Central Command, July 8, 2016,
[5] “Aden security says it raided the home of a leading al Qaida member and seized weapons and large explosives” al Masdar, July 18, 2016,; and “Seized weapons after a raid of the village of al Hamra, Lahj,” Aden Ghad, July 15, 2016,
[6] "The killing of eight of the al Houthis and Saleh's forces in renewed fighting in Hayfan south of the city of Taiz," al Masdar, July 17, 2016,
[7] “Somaliland, Puntland clash over disputed land,” Goobjoog News, July 18, 2016,; and “Puntland and Somaliland forces clash in Sannag,” Shabelle News, July 18, 2016,
[8] “AMSIOM asserts it is in control of Marka town,” Goobjoog News, July 18, 2016,; “Al-Shabaab seizes central Somalia town,” Goobjoog News, July 16, 2016,; and “Residents live peacefully and no security threat in Marka, says DC,” Goobjoog News, July 17, 2016,
[9] “Two Al shabab fighters killed in fighting between SNA and Al-Shabab in Qoryooley,” Goobjoog News, July 18, 2016,; and “Al Shabaab briefly seizes key town in Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 18, 2016,
[10] “Soldier killed in bomb explosion in south Somalia,” Goobjoog News, July 18, 2016,
[11] “Somalia to acquire first warships since the fall of government in 1991,” Goobjoog News, July 18, 2016,
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