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.
Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 22, 2018Co-Authors:
Sara Harmouch, Sheridan Sullivant, Mohamad El Kari, James Barnett
Yemen: Emirati-backed Yemeni forces and coalition aircraft kill 80 al Houthi troops in al Hudaydah governorate; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda attack two AQAP positions in al Bayda; al Houthi forces attack Saudi military bases in Najran and Asir regions, Saudi Arabia; al Houthi forces claim to attack Emirati command center in western Yemen
Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government rejects third-party mediation in dispute with federal member states; over 1,000 families flee clashes between al Shabaab and AMISOM-backed SNA forces in Hiraan region, central Somalia; Tanzanian authorities arrest 104 suspected Salafi-jihadi militants tied to Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama in Mozambique; Ethiopia signs peace agreement with Ogaden National Liberation Front; UK government sees no progress in Eritrea human rights record
Yemen Security Brief
Emirati-backed Yemeni, backed by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, continued offensives east and southeast of al Hudaydah city, western Yemen on October 21. The Southern Giants Brigades claimed to kill 80 al Houthi fighters during the clashes. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed more than 15 al Houthi leaders during a meeting in Kilo 16 area, east of al Hudaydah city. A second coalition airstrike killed more than 30 al Houthi fighters east of al Durayhimi district, southeast of city. Giants Brigades forces also claimed to kill more than 30 al Houthi troops in fighting east of al Durayhimi district.
The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to attack two positions held by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 21. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed that its militants attacked AQAP militants in area, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on October 7.
Al Houthi forces claimed to attack a Saudi military base with a Qasef 1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 22. Al Houthi forces attacked Saudi military bases with rockets and artillery in city and clashed with Saudi military near the Alab border crossing in Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 19. The Saudi Ministry of Defense has not confirmed the attacks.
Al Houthi missile forces claimed to attack an Emirati command center, assisted by surveillance from a drone, in an unspecified location in western Yemen on October 19.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
The Somali Federal Government (SFG) rejected calls from Somalia’s federal member states to seek third-party mediation in an ongoing dispute between the SFG and member states on October 21. The Upper House of Somalia’s parliament gave President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo a three-day ultimatum on October 20 to accept mediation from the Upper House. The SFG refused the offer but stated that President Farmajo remains open to dialogue with the member state presidents. SFG Prime Minister Ali Hassan Khaire stated that the SFG would not allow foreign parties to interfere in Somalia’s domestic politics, however. Somalia’s five federal member states suspended ties with the SFG on September 8, citing the SFG’s failure to maintain security and fairly distribute resources.
Over 1,000 families fled fighting between al Shabaab and Somali National Army (SNA) forces backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Hiraan region, central Somalia. The civilians arrived in Jalalaqsi town, Hiraan region over 10 days in response to SNA and AMISOM operations against al Shabaab along the Shabelle river in region. SNA and AMISOM forces claimed to capture multiple villages from al Shabaab in the region beginning on October 10.
Tanzanian police have arrested 104 suspected Salafi-jihadi militants in recent months in southern and eastern Tanzania. Police accuse the suspects of planning to travel to Mozambique to train in militant camps. Tanzanian police stated that some of the suspected militants died during arrests while others escaped. Mozambican authorities began a trial for 189 suspected Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama militants earlier in October. Suspected Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama militants have carried out 40 attacks and killed more than 100 people in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, which borders Tanzania.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) signed a peace agreement with the Ethiopian government in Asmara, Eritrea on October 21. The ONLF pledged to disarm and pursue its struggles peacefully within Ethiopia’s political system. The ONLF has fought for the succession of Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region since 1984. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the government’s terrorist designation for the ONLF and two other rebel groups in July 2018. The ONLF declared a unilateral ceasefire on August 12 but its leadership has remained based in Eritrea.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated that it has not seen any evidence of Eritrea improving its human rights record despite positive political developments in the region on October 18. The United Nations elected Eritrea one of the representatives on the UN Human Rights Council on October 12. Eritrea signed a peace agreement with Ethiopia on July 8, which many human rights organizations hoped would prompt the Eritrean government to improve respect for human rights. Human Rights Watch criticized the Ethiopian government on October 20 for the mass arrests of youths in in September. Amnesty International also criticized the Ethiopian government on October 18.
 “Giants announce the killing of 80 al Houthis in Hudaydah,” Al Akhbar Now, October 21, 2018, https://www.alkhabarnow.net/new/26981/; “the Alliance targets a high meeting of the Houthis in Durahmi and leaders fall and dozens dead,” 7adramout, October 22, 2018, https://7adramout.net/golden-news/2085194/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86---%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7-%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%A7-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%82%D9%88%D8%B7-%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88%D8%B9%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%89.html; and “A senior Houthi leader was killed along with his companions in coalition raids in Hodeidah,” 7adramout,
 “Air defense shell Saudi mercenaries in Najran,” Al Masirah, October 22, 2018, https://www.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=30426&cat_id=3;“Saudi mercenaries killed in a large military operation in Najran,” Al Masirah, October 19, 2018, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=30308&cat_id=3; and “Mercenaries killed in attack on Alab crossing in Asir,” Al Masirah, October 19, 2018, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=30297&cat_id=3.
 “Drone’s Surveillance and Rocketry Force Target Central Command of UAE Forces,” Al Masirah, October 20, 2018, https://english.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=3342&cat_id=1.
 “Govt pays no heed to Senate role in mediating political crisis,” Garowe, October 22, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-govt-pays-no-heed-to-senate-role-in-mediating-political-crisis; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 21, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1054009126156689408.
 “Hundreds of families displaced over security fears in Hiran region arrive in Jalalaqsi town,” Radio Ergo, October 22, 2018, https://www.radioergo.org/2018/10/22/hundreds-of-families-displaced-over-security-fears-in-hiran-region-arrive-in-jalaqsi-town/?lang=en; and “Somali, AU forces seize key areas from Al-Shabaab,” Caasimada, October 10, 2018, https://www.caasimada.net/somali-au-forces-seize-key-areas-from-al-shabaab/.
 “Tanzanian arrests 104 people for plotting “radical camps” in Mozambique,” Reuters, October 21, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tanzania-mozambique-violence/tanzania-arrests-104-people-for-plotting-radical-camps-in-mozambique-idUSKCN1MU0N3; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: October 3, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 3, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-3-2018.
 “Ethiopia: Main Ogaden rebel group to lay down arms,” October 22, 2018, Anadolu Agency, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/ethiopia-main-ogaden-rebel-group-to-lay-down-arms/1289313; “Ethiopia, ONLF sign historic peace deal,” Addis Standard, October 22, 2018, https://addisstandard.com/news-ethiopia-onlf-sign-historic-peace-deal/; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 21, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1054055031018799104.
 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “No evidence of human rights reforms in Eritrea - UK,” Africa News, October 19, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/10/19/no-evidence-of-human-rights-reforms-in-eritrea-uk/; Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Eritrea, Cameroon among African reps on UN Human Rights Council,” Africa News, October 13, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/10/13/eritrea-cameroon-among-african-reps-on-un-human-rights-council/; “Rights groups warn Ethiopia against return to repression,” Associated Press, October 21, 2018, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/rights-groups-warn-ethiopia-against-return-to-repression-20181021-2; and “Ethiopia: Release of human rights defender welcome but end to arbitrary detentions must follow,” October 18, 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/ethiopia-release-of-human-rights-defender-welcome-but-end-to-arbitrary-detentions-must-follow/.
Yemen: U.S. State Department offers reward for information on senior AQAP propagandist; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda defectors claim that Taiz governorate is a major ISIS recruiting area; Hadi government vice president says that Iran supports terrorism in the region; UNICEF warns that economic crisis and al Hudaydah offensive place millions of children at risk; Giants Brigade seizes large cache of al Houthi arms in al Hudaydah
Horn of Africa: KDF bombs al Shabaab bases in Gedo region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM convoy in Hiraan region, central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
The U.S. Department of State announced on October 18 that it is offering a reward of up to five million U.S. dollars for information on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior official and propagandist Khalid al Batarfi. The U.S. Department of State also increased its reward for information on AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi from five million to ten million U.S. dollars.
Alleged ISIS Wilayat al Bayda defectors claimed that Taiz governorate is a major recruiting area for ISIS, according to an unofficial AQAP-affiliated Telegram post. They also claimed that ISIS bans its members from traveling abroad and tortures anyone who attempts to defect. At least four militants have left ISIS since late August 2018, according to the Telegram post.
The Vice President of the Yemeni government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, said on October 19 that Iran is supporting and sponsoring terrorism in the region through the al Houthi forces, which he claimed have caused suffering for the Yemeni people. Al Ahmar stated that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen will continue its efforts to eliminate the presence of al Houthi forces and liberate Yemen.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore called all parties in the Yemen conflict to cease attacks on civilian infrastructure, including al Hudaydah port in western Yemen, on October 18. The combination of the deepening economic crisis and violence in al Hudaydah city will likely deprive another 1.2 million Yemenis of basic water and sanitation, according to UNICEF. An additional 3.5 million Yemenis will suffer from food insecurity. Four million more Yemenis are likely to become food insecure if al Hudaydah port is blocked or damaged.
The Giant Brigades recovered a large al Houthi cache of 120 caliber mortar shells while combing farms adjacent to al Hali district, east of al Hudaydah in western Yemen, on October 19. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces repelled an al Houthi counterattack in the Kilo 10 area along the road linking al Hudaydah and Sana’a on October 18.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) fighter jets bombed al Shabaab bases in Geriley town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on October 19. KDF soldiers executed three civilians and wounded four others in Barmili village, near Geriley on October 18, according to local witnesses. The KDF soldiers attacked the civilians after their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) in the area.
Al Shabaab ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vehicles along the road between Bulo Burde and Halgan in Hiraan region, central Somalia on October 18. Al Shabaab killed two Ugandan AMISOM soldiers in an ambush in Marka town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 16.
 “Rewards for Justice-Reward offer for information on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula key leaders,” U.S. Department of State, October 18, 2018, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/10/286750.htm.
 “ISIS defectors reveal that Taiz is a major recruiting area for ISIS,” Twitter, October 18, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1052908272167133184.
 “Yemeni Vice President: Iran sponsors sabotage and terrorist project in the region,” Saudi Press Agency, October 19, 2018, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1830176; and “Yemen’s Vice President: Iran sponsors terrorism project in region,” Al Arabiya, October 19, 2018, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/10/19/Yemen-s-Vice-President-Iran-sponsors-terrorism-project-in-region.html.
 “In Yemen, millions of children could soon be without food or water as economic crisis deepens and al Hudaydah violence drags on,” UNICEF, October 18, 2018, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/yemen-millions-children-could-soon-be-without-food-or-water-economic-crisis-deepens.
 Philip Mwakio, “Kenyan Defense Forces fighter jets have bombed Somalia southern region,” Standard Media, October 19, 2018, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001299662/kenya-defence-forces-fighter-jets-have-bombed-somalia-southern-region.
 Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 18, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1052921695357624322.
 “Shabaab claims bombing 2 Kenyan military vehicles in Mandera, attacks on AMISOM, PSF, and SNA forces in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and “Somalia: AU peacekeepers killed in Al-Shabab ambush,” Garowe, October 18, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/world/africa/somalia-two-au-peacekeepers-killed-in-al-shabab-ambush.
Yemen: Russian foreign minister reiterates Moscow’s commitment to supporting UN-led Yemen peace process; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces destroy al Houthi drone in Taiz; al Houthi forces fire Badr 1 ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia; Emirati-backed forces repel al Houthi counterattack on al Hudaydah-Sana’a road; tropical cyclone Luban kills six people in al Mahrah governorate
Horn of Africa: U.S. officials state that October 12 airstrike targeted al Shabaab camp; al Shabaab claims attacks in northeastern Kenya and Puntland; Ethiopian prime minister claims that protesting soldiers wanted to end government reforms
Yemen Security Brief
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on October 18 that Russia is committed to supporting UN-led efforts to find a political solution to the Yemen crisis. Lavrov added that Russia will help bring all parties of the conflict to negotiations without preconditions. He also that stated Russia has coordinated with the Saudi-led coalition to deliver humanitarian aid to Yemen and confirmed that aid will continue.
Emirati-backed Yemeni forces intercepted and destroyed an al Houthi unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in governorate, southwestern Yemen on October 18.
Al Houthi forces claimed to fire a Badr 1 ballistic missile at a Saudi military base in region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 18. The Saudi Ministry of Defense has not confirmed the missile strike. Al Houthi forces also claimed to fire two Badr 1 ballistic missiles in governorate, northern Yemen on October 16.
Emirati-backed Yemeni forces repelled an al Houthi counterattack in the area along the road linking and on October 18, according to Saudi news. Emirati-backed forces seized the and Kilo 10 areas from al Houthi forces, east of al Hudaydah city on September 12.
Tropical cyclone Luban killed six people ingovernorate, eastern Yemen on October 18. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief center delivered humanitarian aid to in al Mahrah governorate on October 17.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
U.S. officials stated that the U.S. airstrike that killed dozens of al Shabaab militants on October 12 targeted an al Shabaab training camp near in region, central Somalia, according to the Associate Press. The death toll from the strike now exceeds 75 militants. Original media reports stated that the airstrikes had not targeted camps.
Al Shabaab claimed to detonate two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) troops near Kenya on October 16. Al Shabaab claimed to kill all the soldiers in each vehicle. Al Shabaab claimed to kill multiple members of the Puntland Security Forces in an attack in , on October 18. Neither attack is confirmed.area, , northeastern
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated on October 18 that the soldiers who had marched on his palace on October 10 were demanding an end to Ethiopia’s political and economic reforms. Ethiopian media had initially reported that the soldiers were demanding pay raises. Ethiopian authorities arrested multiple army officers accused of instigating the soldiers’ protests on October 14. Abiy told parliament that the situation has been defused. Abiy initiated an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms when he came to office in April following months of popular protests against the previous government.
 “Moscow sees priority in Yemen to stop fighting and start a political settlement,” RT, October 18, 2018, https://arabic.rt.com/middle_east/977007-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%83%D9%88-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%89-%D8%A3%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%84%D9%88%D9%82%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9/#; and “Russia wants to help the UN to resolve the conflict in Yemen,” Sputnik News, October 18, 2018, https://it.sputniknews.com/politica/201810186644954-Lavrov-ONU-Huthi-Yemen-guerra-pace-diplomazia-Medio-Oriente-sauditi/.
 “Emirati-backed Yemeni forces intercepted an al Houthi Unmanned Aerial vehicle,” Sky News Arabia, October 18, 2018, https://www.skynewsarabia.com/middle-east/1192173-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B3%D9%82%D8%B7-%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%8A%D9%94%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9.
 “Badr 1 ballistic missile hits gatherings of mercenaries in Najran, Al Masirah, October 18, 2018, https://www.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=30245&cat_id=3.
 “Yemeni army, Arab coalition block al Houthi attempt to open Sana’a, al Hudaydah route,” Al Arabiya, October 18, 2018, https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/10/18/Yemeni-army-Arab-Coalition-block-Houthi-attempt-to-open-Sanaa-Hodeidah-route.html.
 Abdi Guled, “U.S. Airstrike Wiped Out Al-Shabab Camp, Intel Officials Say,” Associated Press, October 17, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/f777e56e5c444c49b24714b2a532218c; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 16, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-16-2018.
 “Shabaab claims bombing 2 Kenyan military vehicles in Mandera, attacks on AMISOM, PSF, and SNA forces in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 “Ethiopia soldiers who marched on palace wanted to abort reforms-PM,” Reuters, October 18, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/ethiopia-politics/ethiopia-soldiers-who-marched-on-palace-wanted-to-abort-reforms-pm-idUSL8N1WY3ZP; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: October 16, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 16, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-16-2018.