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: Al Houthi movement claims drone attacks attributed to Iran; AQAP releases photos of prisoner swap with al Houthis; Saudi-led coalition-backed forces raid AQAP operative’s home in Hadramawt

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab conducts multiple attacks in southern Somalia; Somaliland President discusses Emirati airbase in Berbera

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement claimed responsibility for attacks on two oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia on September 14. The al Houthi movement claimed that 10 of its drones had targeted the Abqaiq and Khurais oilfields. Saudi officials confirmed that the oil facilities were damaged but claimed that the facilities were targeted with multiple missiles as well as drones. US officials stated that the attack originated in  Iranian territory rather than Yemen. Al Houthi officials threatened to continue drone strikes against Saudi Arabia following the attacks and claimed that its weapons could reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. The price of oil surged following the attacks.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released photos of a prisoner swap with the al Houthi movement in an undisclosed location in Yemen on September 13.[2]

Saudi-led coalition-backed Yemeni security forces raided the home of an AQAP operative near Shibam town in Hadramawt governorate in southeastern Yemen on September 15. Suspected AQAP militants conducted attacks against Yemeni security forces in Shibam in early September.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants conducted multiple attacks in southern Somalia on September 14, killing at least 17 people. Al Shabaab militants attacked African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region. Al Shabaab militants also fired mortars at Marka, a coastal town in Lower Shabelle, while Somali Federal Government (SFG) Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was visiting the town. Khaire returned unharmed to the federal capital, Mogadishu. Al Shabaab militants separately detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the convoy of Lower Shabelle governor Ibrahim Adan Najah near Shalambood town. Al Shabaab also ambushed Burundian AMISOM soldiers near Balad town, 30 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu, killing 12 soldiers.[4]

The President of the self-declared state of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, stated on September 14 that the UAE no longer plans to establish a military airport in Somaliland. The UAE has been designing an airport in Berbera port city for military use. President Abdi stated that Somaliland will open the airport to the public for commercial travel. Abdi stated that the Emirati military can still use the airport as needed, however.[5]

[1] “The Latest: Trump disputes ground rules of meeting with Iran,” Associated Press, September 15, 2019,; Riam Dalati, Twitter, September 15, 2019,; Don Nissenbaum, Twitter, September 16, 2019,; Nayla Razzouk, Javier Blas, and James Thornhill, “Speed of Saudi Oil Recovery In Focus After Record Supply Loss,” Bloomberg, September 15, 2019,; “Oil production in Saudi Arabia has been disrupted after the second deterrent balance,” Al Masirah, September 14, 2019,; Martha Raddatz, “Iran fired cruise missiles in attack on Saudi oil facility: Senior US official,” ABC, September 15, 2019,; and Abbas al Lawati, “Saudi Oil Facilities Remain Targets After Drone Strikes, Yemen’s Houthis Say,” Bloomberg, September 16, 2019,

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, September 16, 2019,

[3] “UAE forces blow up the house of a senior al-Qaeda leader in Hadramout,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, September 16, 2019,

[4] Harun Maruf, “Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks Kill 17,” Voice of America, September 15, 2019,

[5] “Somaliland UAE military base to be turned into civilian airport,” Reuters, September 15, 2019,; and “UAE military airbase agreement remains the same-Somaliland President,” Horn Diplomat, September 15, 2019,

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