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: Suspected AQAP militants attack Yemeni military headquarters in Sayun, Hadramawt governorate; al Houthis launch Scud missile toward Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes in central and northern Yemen; UN Deputy Secretary General expects peace talks by end of October

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab recaptures Gandershe in Banadir region; Al Shabaab arrests 30 pro-ISIS splinter group members in Jilib, Middle Jubba; UN plans to increase financial support for AMISOM

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked the Yemeni Army’s First Military District headquarters in Sayun, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on October 14. AQAP controls Hadramawt’s capital al Mukalla, a port city approximately 200 kilometers south of Sayun. The militants reportedly detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near the base, killing twelve Yemeni military personnel. The militants also exchanged gunfire with Yemeni soldiers.[1]
  • Al Houthi forces fired a Scud ballistic missile from the presidential compound in Sana’a on October 15. Al Masirah television, which is aligned with the al Houthis, claimed that the missile struck King Khaled airbase near Khamees Mushait city in southwestern Saudi Arabia. Eyewitnesses reported that the missile either exploded or was shot down above al Hudaydah governorate. The Saudi government has not responded to the incident. The al Houthis have launched at least four Scud missiles at Saudi Arabia since the conflict began, at least two of which have been intercepted by Saudi air defenses.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition bombed a military base in Sana’a after al Houthi forces fired the ballistic missile from the capital city on October 15. The coalition also targeted a gathering of al Houthi supporters in al Sha’ir, Ibb governorate in central Yemen. On October 14, the coalition bombed al Houthi military equipment in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen, as well as pro-al Houthi military sites and vehicles in Sa’ada governorate near the Saudi-Yemeni border.[3]
  • UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said that he expects peace talks to commence by the end of October, following meetings with representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. He cautioned that the “deep mistrust” between the Gulf states and Iran threatens to derail negotiations.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Gandershe on October 15, after Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces withdrew. SNA and AMISOM forces reportedly vacated the town after clashing with al Shabaab militants and killing a village elder the previous day. The village has been greatly contested in recent weeks, having changed hands multiple times in the past week alone, and it is likely that future clashes will occur in the area.[5]
  • Al Shabaab arrested up to 30 of its own members in Jilib, a town in the Middle Jubba region, for distributing pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) leaflets. The targeted individuals, who were arrested on October 15, claim to be members of a pro-ISIS splinter faction referred to as “Abnaa Ul Calipha” (Sons of the Caliphate). This shows an emerging trend of internal disputes within al Shabaab as ISIS vies for the al Qaeda affiliate’s allegiance, as a similar incident of internal arrests occurred weeks ago on September 29.[6]
  • On October 15, the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA) laid out plans for an increase in its support of AMISOM’s operations in Somalia. The increased support will be in the form of expanding upon annual funding figures, as well as an extra one-time investment. The funds are intended to address critical vulnerabilities of the AMISOM security apparatus, with great emphasis being put on improving upon the military organization’s logistical capabilities in order to support its rapid and widespread territorial liberations.[7]

[1] “Casualties from explosion targeting a military point in Wadi Hadramawt,” Barakish, October 15, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
Mohammed Albasha, Twitter, October 14, 2015. Available:
“Violent clashes between al Qaeda members and the national army in Sayun city,” Almashhad Alyemeni, October 15, 2015. [Arabic]
[2] “Yemen Houthis say fire missile in retaliation for Saudi ‘war crimes,’ Reuters, October 15, 2015. Available:
Mohammed Albasha, Twitter, October 15, 2015. Available:
“The missile that the al Houthis fired toward Saudi Arabia exploded in al Hudaydah,” Al Masdar, October 15, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[3] “The coalition strikes sites in Sana'a after al Houthis claimed to launch a ballistic missile towards Saudi Arabia,” Al Masdar, October 15, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Casualties from two sides during continuing battles in al Mukayras, al Bayda, and the coalition bombs,” Al Masdar, October 15, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Al Houthis killed and injured in coalition airstrike on government complex in Ibb,” Al Masdar, October 15, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Series of airstrikes targeting al Houthi and Saleh military sites in Sa'ada,” Al Masdar, October 14, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] “U.N. hopes Yemen peace talks can start by month-end: Eliasson,” Reuters, October 15, 2015. Available:
[5] “Somalia, AU troops retreat town after Al Shabaab attack,” Shabele News, October 15, 2015. Available:
“AMISOM kills a traditional elder, wound two others in Gandershe village,” Shabelle News, October 15, 2015. Available:
“Somali army regains Gandershe village after Al Shabaab retreat,” Junaland News, October 13, 2015. Available:
[6] “Al – Shabaab detains 30 foreigners and Somalis,” VOA Somali, October 15, 2015. [Somali] Available:
Harun Maruf, “Al-Qaeda or Islamic State? Issues simmer within Al-Shabaab,” Voice of America, September 30, 2015. Available:
[7] “UN expands role in Somalia,” Shabelle News, October 15, 2015. Available:


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