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.

AEI Event: Thursday, September 10 at 3pm - A new Yemen model: The way forward against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. RSVP here

Yemen: The Gulf coalition launches airstrikes on Sana’a; Qatari, Sudanese, and Emirati troops deploy to Yemen; al Houthi sources claim that AQAP kidnapped Emirati soldiers.

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab seizes the towns of El Saliindi and Kuntuwarey; multiple AMISOM convoys attacked by gunmen and bombings in Hiiran and Lower Shabelle regions; Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) begin anti-al Shabaab operations in Boni Forest.

Yemen Security Brief

  • Saudi-led coalition forces conducted airstrikes on the al Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital of Sana’a on September 5, killing at least 24 civilians. The airstrikes commenced one day after an al Houthi rocket struck a weapons cache in a coalition military camp in Ma’rib, killing at least 60 Emirati, Saudi, and Bahraini soldiers. The intensification of airstrikes has continued nightly, with the coalition targeting al Houthi military sites throughout Sana’a on September 5-7.[1]
  • Al Jazeera reported on September 7 that 1,000 Qatari troops are mobilizing to join Saudi-led coalition forces in Ma’rib governorate. This is the first time that Qatar has contributed infantry to the Gulf coalition. Sudan has also announced that 6,000 additional troops are preparing to join the coalition forces in Yemen, and a heavily armed column of Emirati reinforcements is reportedly moving through Hadramawt and towards Ma’rib as well. These new deployments mark a significant increase in coalition boots on the ground in preparation for an offensive on al Houthi-occupied Sana’a.[2]
  • Media sources controlled by the al Houthis reported that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants kidnapped nine Emirati soldiers in eastern Ma’rib province on September 7. This report is not yet confirmed.[3]
  • Rumors have surfaced that the Iranian ambassador to Yemen, Hossein Nam, fled Sana’a on September 7. His destination has not been confirmed at this time. This alleged flight coincides with the Saudi-led coalition’s increased airstrikes on Sana’a and military preparations to retake the city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants seized the towns of El Saliindi and Kuntuwarey in the Lower Shabelle region on September 5. The capture of the towns was confirmed by Ali Nur, the regional governor. Casualty figures are unknown at this time.[5]
  • Three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoys were targeted by al Shabaab militants on September 5. One convoy near Marka was targeted by a roadside bomb, while another convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber in the town of Janale, with both attacks taking place in the Lower Shabelle region. No AMISOM soldiers were reported killed; however, one civilian died in the attack. A third attack on a convoy occurred near Baladwyen in the Hiiran region, killing three unspecified individuals, according to government officials.[6]  
  • Soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) have begun anti-al Shabaab operations in Boni Forest, a region on the border of Kenya and Somalia. The operations are predicted to last for around three months as military units combat the militants.[7]

[1]Ghobari, Mohammad, “Coalition attacks Yemeni capital after UAE, Saudi soldiers killed,” Reuters, September 5, 2015. Available:
“Coalition planes intensify their strikes above Sana’a,” Barakish, September 8, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[2]“Qatar sends 1,000 ground troops to Yemen conflict: al Jazeera,” Reuters, September 7, 2015. Available:
“Coalition forces move center of operations from Aden to Taiz and Ma’rib, and a source for Al Arabiya confirms that 6,000 Sudanese troops are preparing to travel to Yemen,” Al Arabiya, September 7, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Columns of Emirati troops accompanied by heavy weaponry cross al Wadia towards Ma’rib,” Barakish, September 8, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[3]“Agency: Al Qaeda kidnaps Emirati soldiers in Yemen,” Al Montasaf, September 7, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
Haykal Bafana, Twitter, September 7, 2015. Source available upon request.
[4]“The latest news from Yemen today: the direct flight of the Iranian ambassador from the capital Sana’a,”, September 8, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[5]Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Al Shabaab militants seize two towns in southern Somalia,” Reuters September 5, 2015. Available:
[6]“3 dead as government forces battle Al Shabaab outside Baladwyen,” Wacaal, September 8, 2015. Available:
Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Al Shabaab militants seize two towns in southern Somalia,” Reuters September 5, 2015. Available:
[7]Hassan Barisa, “KDF, GSU deployed to flush out Shabaab militants in Boni forest,” Standard Digital, September 6, 2015. Available:
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