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 airstrikes target al Houthi-Saleh leadership in Alab area, northern Sa’ada governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces counterattack against Hadi government and allied forces in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate; Hadi government and allied troops protest payment delays; al Houthi-Saleh forces target Saudi border positions in Asir and Najran; three Qatari Soldiers die in Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack SNA positions near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; Mogadishu on lockdown for IGAD Summit; Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud extends amnesty offer to young al Shabaab militants

Yemen Security Brief

  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh leadership in Alab area, northern Sa’ada governorate near the Yemeni-Saudi border. Coalition airstrikes killed field commanders Abu Karim Hudhaifi and Riad Agheila along with six Yemeni Republican Guard officers. The Republican Guard is loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[1]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a counterattack against forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and allied forces in al Rabiah village, Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on September 13. Hadi government and allied forces disrupted an al Houthi-Saleh supply line in Mount Whelan, Sirwah district on September 10. The governor of Ma’rib, Sultan Arada, announced on September 10 that control of Sirwah district is vital for the planned Hadi government offensive on Sana’a city.[2]
  • Hadi government troops are protesting payment delays from the Saudi-led coalition. The Saudi-led coalition promised to pay each fighter $270 per month but many fighters have yet to receive their salaries. Hadi government officers have allowed units to take temporary leave in order to work and support their families. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Ahmed al Asiri said that coalition already delivered the funds to the Hadi government. Asiri blamed the Hadi government’s distribution system for delaying the payments. A Yemeni military expert said that the Hadi government has struggled to receive and distributed funds.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted a direct fire and artillery attack targeting Saudi border guards in al Hanjar, Asir region on September 11. Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted a similar attack in Fawaz, Najran region on September 12. Al Houthi-Saleh forces seized Saudi positions and equipment following both attacks, according to pro-al Houthi media sources. The Saudi-led coalition announced a new operational phase focused on targeting the al Houthi-Saleh forces and leadership responsible for cross-border attacks on September 7.[4]
  • Three Qatari soldiers died while participating in Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen on September 12, according to Qatar’s state news agency (QNA). QNA did not provide any details on where or how the Qatari soldiers died. An estimated 1,000 Qatari troops are participating in the Saudi-led coalition.[5]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali National Army (SNA) positions near Afgoi town in Lower Shabelle region on September 13. The militants killed four SNA soldiers. Al Shabaab may have launched the attack in retribution for the murder of two civilians by SNA forces, according to local sources. Al Shabaab recently increased its activity in Afgoi, which the group has used as a support zone for attacks on nearby Mogadishu.[6]
  • Somali security forces closed major roads in Mogadishu in preparation for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in Mogadishu on September 13. Heads of state and representatives from Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Djibouti, and Ethiopia are expected to discuss Somalia’s elections and the crisis in South Sudan.[7]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud extended offers of amnesty to young al Shabaab militants willing to defect during Eid al Adha celebrations on September 12. The Somali Federal Government operates a number of Disarmament, Deradicalization, and Rehabilitation (DDR) programs throughout southern Somalia.[8]


[1] “Alliance surprises a Houthi militia meeting in a cave near the border and killed a number of leaders - names,” Barakish, September 12, 2016,
[2]Leith Fadel, “Houthi forces capture several sites in northern Yemen,” al Masdar News, September 13, 2016,;  “Government forces cut off all supply lines for the rebels in the west of Ma’rib,” al Masdar, September 10, 2016,; and “Governor of Ma’rib reveals the strategic importance for the Liberation of Sirwah in the Battle of Sana'a,” Ahkbar Yemen, September 10, 2016,
[3] Saeed Al-Batati and Nour Youssef, “It’s Not the Bullets Forcing Yemeni Troops Off the Battlefield. It’s the Pay,” The New York Times, September 12, 2016,
[4] “Harbi media distributed scenes storming Hanjar sites in Assir,” al Masirah, September 11, 2016,; and “See Yemeni army storm the Saudi Fawaz site and its environs from the hills on the city of Najran,” al Masirah, September 12, 2016,
[5]  Sami Aboudi, “Three Qatari soldiers killed in Yemen: state news agency,” Reuters, September 13, 2016,
[6] “Four SNA soldiers killed in Al shabaab attack near Afgoye,” Shabelle News, September 13, 2016,
[7] “Mogadishu streets on lockdown as Somalia hosts IGAD summit,” Shabelle News, September 13, 2016,; and “IGAD Summit to kick off in Mogadishu Tuesday- Somali President,” Goobjoog News, September 13, 2016,
[8] “Somali president extends amnesty to Al-Shabaab fighters,” Goobjoog News, September 13, 2016,
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