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: AQAP official condemns normalization of UAE-Israeli relations; Saudi-led coalition claims intercepting al Houthi explosive UAV in southwestern Saudi Arabia; Saudi King Salman dismisses commander of Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on corruption; President Hadi returns to Saudi Arabia from US medical trip

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab reportedly retreats from town in central Somalia; al Shabaab attacks security forces in Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief:

A senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, gave a speech on August 28 discussing the normalization of UAE-Israeli relations. Qosi suggested that Bahrain, Egypt, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia may be next in normalizing relations with Israel. He paralleled the decision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi to that of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s signing of the Camp David Accords. Qosi remarked that Sadat’s decision led to his assassination. He then called for the assassination of Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.[i]

Saudi-led coalition forces claimed intercepting an al Houthi explosive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) targeting Abha airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia’s Asir region on September 1. Coalition forces previously claimed intercepting an al Houthi explosive UAV launched toward Abha airport on August 30.[ii]

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud dismissed the commander of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, on charges of corruption on August 31. Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salim replaced Fahd bin Turki. King Salman reorganized top Saudi military leaders in February 2018 during which Fahd bin Turki was the only top military commander reassigned rather than retired by the king’s royal order.[iii]

The president of the internationally recognized Yemeni government, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on September 2. President Hadi departed Riyadh in mid-August to travel to the US for a routine medical trip.[iv]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab reportedly retreated from Elbur town in central Somalia’s Galgudud region following news that joint security forces planned to target the area. Al Shabaab took control of a Somali National Army base in Elbur in mid-August. [v]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a military vehicle carrying Ugandan African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) troops near Awdheegle town in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. Al Shabaab claimed destroying an armored AMISOM vehicle. This attack follows the UN honoring Ugandan soldiers for serving in Somalia on August 31.[vi]

[i] “AQAP Official Urges Muslims Seek Vengeance for UAE-Israeli Normalization,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 28, 2020, available by subscription at

[ii] “’Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen’: intercepts and destroys drone launched by Iranian-backed Houthis toward kingdom,” Saudi Press Agency, September 1, 2020,; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 31, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 31, 2020,

[iii] “Saudi military leader forced out amid corruption probe,” Deutsche Welle, September 1, 2020,; and Peter Cialone, Miranda Morton, and Tomás Padgett Perez, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 27, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 27, 2018,

[iv] “Hadi leaves Cleveland, USA,” Mareb Press, September 2, 2020,; and Matthew Eady and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 12, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 12, 2020,

[v] “Al-Shabaab pulls out of key Somali town ahead of army offensive,” Garowe, September 1, 2020,; “Shabaab imposes control over SNA base in Mudug to cap bloody week of increased attack frequency and suicide bombings,” SITE, August 13, 2020, available by subscription at; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 24, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 24, 2020,

[vi] Abdirisak M Tuuryare, “African Union Troops’ Vehicle Ambushed by Al Shabaab,” Mareeg, September 1, 2020,; and “Somalia: UN Honors Ugandan Troops for their Services in Somalia,” All Africa, August 31, 2020,

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