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’s Vice President reiterates preconditions for talks with STC; UAE sends armored vehicles to Aden; suspected AQAP militants attack UAE-backed Yemeni security forces in Abyan; al Houthi movement claims attacks on airports in southwestern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Somali special forces raid al Shabaab training camps in southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants ambush SNA convoy outside Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Vice President, Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, reiterated the Hadi government’s preconditions for talks with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a UAE-backed southern Yemeni secessionist group, on September 5. The STC and Hadi government have been fighting since early August, when STC-aligned forces seized Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden. The Hadi government has called on the STC to withdraw from positions it seized in Aden, surrender its weapons, and respect a ceasefire as preconditions for talks. An STC delegation led by STC President Aydarus al Zubaidi arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for talks brokered by Saudi Arabia on September 4. The STC previously sent a delegation to Jeddah in August, but the Hadi government refused to meet it.[1]

The UAE sent armored vehicles to Aden by sea on September 5 in order to reinforce STC-aligned forces in the city, according to anti-Emirati media. STC-aligned forces separately reinforced positions in Shaqra district in central Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on September 5. STC-aligned forces recaptured Aden and parts of Abyan from Hadi government-aligned forces on August 29.[2]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked a base belonging to UAE-backed al Hizam Security Forces in the Akd area in central Abyan governorate on August 5. No group has claimed the attack. AQAP has conducted a string of attacks against al Hizam checkpoints in Mudia and al Mahfad districts in Abyan over the past two weeks.[3]

The al Houthi movement claimed to conduct a drone attack on King Khaled Air Base near Khamis Mushayt city in southwestern Saudi Arabia on September 5. The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept the drone. The al Houthi movement separately claimed to conduct a ballistic missile attack on Najran airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia using Badr-1 missiles on September 5. The Saudi-led coalition has not commented on this claim. [4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali special forces backed by aircraft conducted separate operations against al Shabaab training camps in Middle Jubba and Lower Shabelle regions in southern Somalia on September 4. A Somali journalist claimed that French aircraft had supported the operation, but this is unconfirmed. Somali special forces killed two al Shabaab commanders in the raids.[5]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed an SNA convoy in Afgoi district on the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on August 4. The convoy escaped and proceeded to nearby Saabid town.[6]

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[1] Mohammed Abdul Malek, “For these reasons the Yemeni Government rejects dialogue with the STC in Jeddah,” Al Jazeera, September 5, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 4, 2019,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 5, 2019,

[2] Al Jazeera Arabic, Twitter, September 5, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 29, 2019,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 29, 2019,

[3] “Al Qaeda detonates the headquarters of the Security belt in Abyan,” Yemen Akhbar, September 5, 2019,

[4] “Command of Joint Forces of Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: Intercepting and Shooting Down a Drone Launched by Iranian-backed Houthi Terrorist Militia Towards the Kingdom,” Saudi Press Agency, September 5, 2019,; “Air Force drone returns to bombing King Khaled Air Base in Asir,” al Masirah, September 5, 2019,; and “As Part of Yemeni Legitimate Response, Rocketry Force Targets Saudi Airport with Ballistic Missiles,” al Masirah, September 5, 2019,

[5] “French, Somali troops hit Al Shabaab training camp,” Mareeg Media, September 4, 2019,

[6] “Al-Shabaab militants ambush SNA convoy at the outer skirt of Afgoye town,” Goobjoog, September 5, 2019,

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