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: UN envoy conveys al Houthi response to Yemen peace plan; rocket attack kills 22 UAE soldiers in Ma’rib; VBIED targets al Houthis in al Bayda.

Horn of Africa: Analysts assess al Shabaab may attempt large-scale attacks to demonstrate its fighting capabilities.

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Yemeni government officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on September 3, after concluding negotiations with al Houthi representatives in Muscat, Oman. Ould Cheikh Ahmed had been negotiating an al Houthi response to UNSCR 2216, which calls for all al Houthi-allied forces to disarm completely and withdraw from the territories that they have seized. No official details have been released, but sources on Twitter have claimed that the deal, which is still in negotiations, requires the al Houthis to release prisoners and accept UNSCR 2216 in return for sanctions relief and the departure of foreign troops.[1]
  • The United Arab Emirates state announced on September 4 that 22 Emirati soldiers were killed in an attack on a Gulf coalition military base in Ma’rib governorate. The soldiers died in an explosion when a rocket, launched by al Houthi militias, struck a weapons cache inside the camp.[2]
  • A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device killed at least five al Houthis in al Bayda city on September 3. No group has claimed the attack at this time, but Ansar al Sharia, the militant arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has taken credit for at least six other attacks on al Houthi positions in al Bayda governorate between September 2 and September 4.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Independent analysis by an African-centered media outlet proposes that the September 1 attack on Janale military base by al Shabaab may be part of an effort by the militant group to prove its fighting capabilities. The Janale base attack comes two months after another attack on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces stationed at a base in Lego, northwest of the country’s capital. While control of the bases was maintained in both attacks, high casualties occurred and it is likely that al Shabaab may be trying to demonstrate its use of effective hit-and-run tactics. The effectiveness of this tactic is seemingly confirmed by a report from the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which states that the attack shows “that al Shabaab is far from the weakened force it was supposed to be by now.”[4]
[1]“Spokesman: A government committee meets with the international envoy for Yemen, following his meeting with the al Houthis in Muscat,” Al Masdar, September 4, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
Hakim Almasmari, Twitter, September 3, 2015. Source available upon request.
[2]“UAE, Bahrain say 27 soldiers killed in Yemen fighting,” Reuters, September 4, 2015. Available:
[3]“5 al Houthis killed in an explosion from a car bomb in al Bayda,” Barakish, September 4, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] Simon Allison, “Analysis: Al-Shabaab’s revenge sparks another crisis on Somalia,” Daily Maverick, September 3, 2015. Available:
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