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: Former President Saleh calls for Russian involvement in Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh military spokesman denies alliance’s forces participated in attacks on U.S. warships in the Red Sea; AQAP militants clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and al Bayda governorates; thousands of southern Yemenis demonstrate in Aden’s Freedom Square; al Houthi-Saleh forces kill Saudi border guard

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting Southwest Administration security forces near Baidoa, Bay region; al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM base and detonate IED near Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on the U.S. and Russia to address acts of terrorism and piracy in the Red Sea. Former President Saleh accused Saudi Arabia of recruiting al Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham members from Syria to attack vessels in the Red Sea.  Former President Saleh also urged Russia to use its political power to help end the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade on al Houthi-Saleh-held territory in an October 12 meeting with Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Yemen. Former President Saleh reiterated that al Houthi-Saleh forces were not involved in any attacks targeting U.S. warships in the Red Sea. He referred to allegations of al Houthi-Saleh involvement as propaganda to cover up the October 8 Saudi-led coalition’s airstrike in Sana’a that killed over 140 people.[1]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh military spokesman Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman denied that the alliance’s forces were involved in any attacks against U.S. warships while simultaneously reiterating Yemen’s right to defend its sovereignty and borders. Luqman emphasized that the Supreme Political Council’s leadership has unquestioned control over all coastal defensive weapons except for ones controlled by “al Qaeda or the Saudi-UAE alliance.” The spokesman denounced the October 13 U.S. attack on al Houthi-Saleh radar stations and stated that “any developments will be dealt with, including matching this targeting provocation.”[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda and Ibb governorates between October 4 and 14. AQAP-affiliated Ansar al Sharia militants clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Rada’a district, western al Bayda. AQAP militants assassinated an al Houthi-Saleh commander in Yarim district, northern Ibb governorate on October 14.[3]
  • Thousands of southern Yemenis demonstrated in Aden’s Freedom Square on October 14 to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the South Yemen revolt against the British mandate and to demand the right of self-determination. Demonstrators chanted slogans in support of southern secession. Some demonstrators raised images of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi while others criticized his proposed six-region federalized system as a threat to an independent South Yemen state.[4]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed a Saudi border guard in the Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia, according to an October 14 Saudi state media publication. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to cause extensive damage to Saudi vehicles and personnel in multiple attacks in Jazan region near the Saudi-Yemeni border.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a regional security force convoy near Baidoa city in Bay region on October 13. The blast killed five Southwest Administration soldiers and wounded five others. The convoy was transporting military supplies to a nearby base. Al Shabaab maintains a strong presence in Bay region despite being driven from its former urban strongholds throughout central and southern Somalia.[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in El Baraf area in Middle Shabelle region on October 13. Witnesses reported heavy casualties from both sides. Suspected al Shabaab militants also detonated an IED outside a restaurant in nearby Mahaday town. The blast reportedly killed seven civilians and may have been intended to draw the AMISOM forces from their base. It is likely that 2016 will be the deadliest year for AMISOM in terms of IED attacks. Al Shabaab’s IED arsenal is increasing in complexity and munition size according to ordinance experts.[7]
[1]  “Yemen's Saleh Urges Russia to Resolve Yemeni War Via UN Security Council,” Sputnik News, October 12, 2016,; Post on Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Facebook page, October 12, 2016,;  Post on Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Facebook page, October 13, 2016,
[2]  “The official spokesman of the Armed Forces affirms the right of the Yemeni army in the defense of the sovereignty of the Republic of Yemen and denies categorically any allegations targeting naval warships,” Saba News, October 13, 2016,
[3] “AQAP Claims VBIED and IED Attacks on Houthis and Security Belt Forces, Other Strikes in Abyan, al-Bayda', and Ibb,” SITE, October 14, 2016, available by subscription at
[4] “Tens of thousands of southerners celebrate the October 14 revolution anniversary and renew demands for the independence of their country,” Aden Tomorrow, October 14, 2016,; and “Raising pictures of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi for the first time in the history of the Southern Movement,” Aden Tomorrow, October 14, 2016,
[5] Omar Fahmy and Maha El Dahan, “Saudi soldier killed by Houthi fire in southern border area: TV,” Reuters, October 14, 2016,; and “Saudi Arabia recognizes the death of one of its soldiers in Jizan,” al Masirah, October 14, 2016,
[6] “IED blast targets military convoy near Baidoa, 5 dead,” Shabelle News, October 13, 2016,
[7] “Al shabaab raids AMISOM base in El Baraf town,” Shabelle News, October 13, 2016,; Vates Corporation, Twitter, October 14, 2016,; and Jason Patinkin, “AMISOM Troops Struggle to Counter IED Threat in Somalia,” Voice of Africa, October 13, 2016,  
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