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: Hadi government forces arrest pro-AQAP judge in Mukalla, Hadramawt; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi-Saleh military intelligence headquarters in Sana’a city; Hadi government and allied forces seize Kahboub area, Lahij governorate; al Houthi-Saleh officials prevent the central bank in Aden from accessing accounts in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants conduct complex attack on Ethiopian AMISOM convoy near Elbur town, Galgaduud region; al Shabaab spokesman threatens attacks on polling places during upcoming elections; clan elders reach agreement on Hiraan-Middle Shabelle state formation; UN says four in ten Somalis lack access to adequate food

Yemen Security Brief

  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi arrested a pro-al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) judge in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on September 20. The judge ordered multiple floggings and stonings while AQAP controlled al Mukalla, according to a military source. AQAP, which took control of al Mukalla in April 2015, enforced a harsh interpretation of shari’a law in al Mukalla until Hadi government and allied forces retook the city in late April 2016.[1]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted the al Houthi-Saleh National Security Bureau (NSB) in central Sana’a city on September 19. The NSB is the headquarters for al Houthi-Saleh military intelligence. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions at Camp al Kharafi in Saraf district, northeastern Sana’a city on September 18 and 20 and at Daylami air force base in northern Sana’a city on September 18. The coalition also conducted airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh targets in Taiz city. Coalition warplanes struck the al Houthi-Saleh 22nd Mechanized Brigade Camp in eastern Taiz city and al Hawban and al Rubay’i districts in western Taiz city on September 18.[2]
  • Hadi government and allied forces seized Kahboub area in southwestern Lahij governorate from al Houthi-Saleh fighters on September 19. Al Houthi-Saleh forces began an offensive in Kahboub area to flank Hadi government and allied forces in Taiz, according to a pro-Hadi government source. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Hadi government and allied forces in Kahboub on September 19.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh officials in Sana’a are preventing central bank officials in Aden from accessing accounts in Sana’a, according to a September 20 announcement from Hadi-appointed central bank officials. President Hadi relocated the central bank from Sana’a to Aden in an attempt to regain control of the state’s assets from al Houthi-Saleh forces on September 18. Bank officials in Aden stated that the bank cannot pay government employees until it has access to all of its accounts.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Elbur town in Galgaduud region on September 19. The militants and AMISOM forces exchanged small arms fire for several hours after the blast. The attack killed 10 combatants, according to local sources.[5]
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage (Ali Dhere) warned tribal elders that al Shabaab will attack polling places to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The al Shabaab leader claimed that the elections will serve foreign agendas.[6]
  • Participants in the Hiraan-Middle Shabelle state formation talks in Jowhar may have reached an agreement on the formation of the newest Somali state. Somali Interior Minister Yahye Ali Ibrahim announced that clans from both regions reached a compromise to form a regional parliament. Some clan representatives may have left the talks before the agreement was announced.[7]
  • Four in ten Somalis lack adequate access to food, according to the United Nations. Severe droughts, inadequate security, and a large refugee population continue to destabilize much of the Horn of Africa region, especially Somalia. A strong La Nina weather pattern is likely to worsen the humanitarian crisis from October through January. A famine killed approximately 250,000 people in Somalia in 2011, when al Shabaab forces prevented aid agencies from providing services.[8]
[1] “Source: Al Qaeda judge in the military grip in Hadramawt,” Aden GD, September 20, 2016,
[2] “Alliance bombed military intelligence headquarters in downtown Sanaa,” Aden GD, September 20, 2016,; Iona Craig, Twitter, September 20, 2016,; “Coalition warplanes renewed bombing on Houthi positions north and south of the capital Sanaa,” al Masdar, September 20, 2016,; “Alliance bombarded militia positions in Sana'a and Amran,” Yemen Ahkbar, September 18, 2016,; and “Taiz: Air raids and fighting in various fronts and the death toll in clashes between militia elements and forces ousted,” Yemen Ahkbar, September 18, 2016,
[3] “Army forces continue to progress in Kahboub,” Aden GD, September 20, 2016,; and “33 mercenaries Killed and wounded in Lahij,” al Masirah, September 19, 2016,
[4] “Houthis blocking the banking system in the central bank in Aden,” Barakish, September 20, 2016,
[5] “Over ten killed in Al-Shabaab’s ambush on AU convoy in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, September 20, 2016,
[6] “Al-Shabaab says it will disrupt Somalia elections,” Shabelle News, September 20, 2016,
[7] “Elders in Jowhar convention agree on 71 member Parliament for Hiraan and Middle Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, September 20, 2016,
[8] Katy Migiro, “‘Serious concern’ in Somalia as 5 million go hungry, U.N. says,” Reuters, September 20, 2016,
View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '16
Sep '16
Aug '16