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: Saudi-led coalition intercepts al Houthi drone in Asir region; al Houthi commanders killed in intra-al Houthi clashes in Amran; Saudi Arabia deploys brigade to southern Yemen; al Hizam commanders express concern over insecurity in Abyan

Horn of Africa: Qatari businessman claims Qatar facilitated bombing in northern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes Ethiopian forces in Gedo region; Somali police arrest al Shabaab militants in Kismayo

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept an al Houthi drone targeting civilian areas in Asir region in southwestern Saudi Arabia on July 23. The al Houthi movement claimed that the drone had successfully attacked King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushayt city in Asir region.[1]

Two senior al Houthi officials died in clashes between rival al Houthi factions in Amran governorate in northern Yemen on July 20, according to anti-al Houthi media. The clashes broke out after a dispute over the distribution of finances within the governorate. The clashes killed the al Houthi Director of Political Security in Amran governorate. The al Houthi Interior Ministry announced that it would investigate the deaths.[2]

Saudi Arabia deployed a brigade of its forces to southern Yemen on July 23. The brigade is currently in Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen and is expected to travel to the southern port city of Aden. The Saudi brigade will take over military headquarters in Aden that were formerly occupied by Emirati forces, according to anti-southern Yemeni sources.[3]

Commanders from the UAE-backed al Hizam Security Forces held a meeting in al Mudia district in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on July 23 to discuss recent terrorist activity in the governorate. The commanders expressed their concern over the status of security forces in Abyan. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has recently been active in al Mudia. The group claimed to kill five al Hizam soldiers at a checkpoint in the district on July 19.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A businessman close to Qatar’s Emir claimed that Qataris were behind a May 2019 bombing in Somalia’s Puntland region that was claimed by the Islamic State in Somalia, according to a New York Times report published on July 22. The Qatari businessman, Khalifa al Muhannadi, made the claim during a phone call to Qatar’s ambassador to the Somali Federal Government. Muhannadi told the ambassador that the bombing was intended to make the Emiratis leave Puntland, where they are engaged in port development. The Qatari government responded that Muhannadi does not represent the views of Qatar and that it will hold him responsible for his comments.[5]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) near Luq town in Gedo region in southern Somalia on July 23. Suspected al Shabaab militants separately detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near Afgoi town on the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on July 23.[6]

Somali police arrested three al Shabaab militants in Kismayo, a port city and the capital of Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia, on July 22.[7]

Visit our Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, QatarEthiopia and Somalia story streams.

[1] Saudi Press Agency, Twitter, July 23, 2019,; and Masirah TV, Twitter, July 23, 2019,

[2] “Houthi militia recognizes the body of a leading leader in its ranks,” Hadramawt Net, July 23, 2019,; and “Houthis issue an official statement of the representation of the body of the former leader “Mujahid Qashira,” Al Mashhad al Yemani, July 23, 2019,

[3] “A huge Saudi force with the strength of a brigade crossing the depository outlet en route to al Mukalla,” Yemen Akhbar, July 23, 2019,; “News of arrival of huge Saudi Forces to the deposit port,” Al Mashad al Yemeni, July 23, 2019,; “Saudi forces on the way to Aden and al Mukalla,” Aden Gad, July 23, 2019,; and “Saudi Arabia instead of the UAE in Aden and al Islah gains control of the phase,” Gulf 365, July 23, 2019,

[4] “An important meeting for the leadership of the security belt and the rapid intervention and dignitaries and dignitaries in the Directorate of Mudiyah in Abyan Governorate,” Aden Gad, July 23, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – July 19, 2019” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, July 19, 2019,

[5] Ronen Bergman and David D Kirkpatrick, “With Guns, Cash and Terrorism, Gulf States vie for Power in Somalia,” New York Times, July 22, 2019,; “Full statement by the Government Communications Office in response to the New York Times,” July 22, 2019, Qatar Government Communications Office,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 13, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 13, 2019,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 23, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 23, 2019,

[7] “Somali forces arrest 3 al Shabaab militants in southern town,” Hiiraan, July 23, 2019,

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