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: CENTCOM confirms two U.S. airstrikes targeting AQAP in Shabwah; Yemeni Foreign Minister says Saudi-led coalition will not stop until full legitimacy is restored; UN Secretary-General expresses concern over reported Iranian weapons shipment to Yemen; security services raid AQAP weapons cache in Lahij; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi-Saleh forces in Mokha, Taiz

Horn of Africa: UN extends AMISOM authorization in Somalia and African Union announces withdrawal timeline; al Shabaab executes two members for killing civilians in Haradhere, Mudug region; German court sentences six men to jail for joining al Shabaab; SNA and AMISOM forces recapture Qansahdhere town, Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Central Command announced on July 8 that the U.S. military conducted two airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Shabwah governorate this month. Strikes on July 1 and July 4 each killed two AQAP militants.[1]
  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi told a Saudi news source that the Saudi-led operation against the al Houthis, Operation Decisive Storm, will not culminate until “legitimacy” is restored in Yemen. He added that the coalition “will prove its strength in the coming period” and dispel all doubts about tensions between coalition members. Al Mikhlafi also stated that UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed betrayed the Yemeni government’s trust when he submitted a roadmap for the reconciliation process on June 22 without first discussing it with the government delegation.[2]
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the seizure of weapons bound for Yemen in March 2016 in a confidential report made public on July 7. U.S. Navy ships intercepted a stateless vessel originating from Iran carrying 1,500 AK-47 rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, and 21 .50-caliber machine guns on March 28. The U.S. Navy concluded that the arms had originated in Iran and were likely bound for Yemen. Iran informed the UN Secretariat that it “never engaged in such delivery.”[3]
  • Security services raided a reported AQAP weapons cache in Lahij governorate. Hussein al Saadi, a senior official in the Lahij governorate security services, stated that forces uncovered small arms, ammunition, and rockets in a farmhouse in al Hamra, Tubn district, Lahij governorate.[4]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Mokha, Taiz governorate, killing at least 17 people. Clashes continued between al Houthi-Saleh forces and popular resistance and government forces in the areas surrounding nearby Taiz city.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The United Nations reauthorized the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through May 31, 2017 on July 7. The authorization limits force levels for the AMISOM coalition to 22,126 troops. The African Union also announced its withdrawal timeline for AMISOM. The coalition will begin to transfer security responsibility in certain areas to Somalia beginning in 2018, with a total withdrawal expected by 2020.[6]
  • Al Shabaab executed two of its members in Haradhere in Mudug region on July 7. Al Shabaab publicly executed Dhuhul Abdulle and Abdi Muse Hayle for the killing of two unarmed civilians in the al Shabaab stronghold of Haradhere months prior.[7]
  • A court in Frankfurt, Germany sentenced six German citizens to prison on July 7 for joining and attempting to join al Shabaab. Three of the men were arrested when they left al Shabaab and returned to Germany in July 2014. Two others were apprehended in Kenya while attempting to leave al Shabaab and join the Islamic State in Syria. The men cited al Shabaab’s harsh treatment of foreign-born fighters as their reason for leaving the militant group.[8]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured Qansahdhere town in Bay region from al Shabaab on July 7. The al Shabaab fighters did not mount a resistance. Al Shabaab and Interim Southwest Administration (ISWA) security forces clashed over control of Qansahdhere in May 2016.[9]

[1] “July 8: CENTCOM announces Yemen counterterrorism strikes,” United States Central Command, July 8, 2016,
[2] “Yemeni Government: Our Confidence in Ould Cheikh Has Been Shaken,” Asharq al Awsat, July 8, 2016,
[3] “Iran missile tests 'not consistent' with nuclear deal spirit: U.N. report,” Reuters, July 7, 2016; and “U.S. Navy says it seized weapons from Iran likely bound for Houthis in Yemen,” Reuters, April 4, 2016,
[4] “Discovery of al Qaeda weapons cache in Lahij,” Barakish, July 8, 2016,
[5] “Arab coalition targets Yemeni militias, 17 killed,” Al Arabiya, July 8, 2016,
[6] “Security Council extends African Union mission in Somalia,” Shabelle News, July 8, 2016,; and “African Union to Withdraw troops from Somalia by 2020,” Goobjoog News, July 7, 2016,
[7] “Al-Shabaab executes two men for killing civilians,” Goobjoog News, July 8, 2016,
[8] “Germany jails five men for joining with Somali al Shabaab,” Shabelle News, July 8, 2016,
[9] “Somali government forces recapture villages near Qabsahdheere,” Goobjoog News, July 8, 2016,  
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