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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: Al Houthi movement to allow Red Cross to visit Saudi prisoners; UAE withdraws troops and equipment from Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IEDs targeting Ethiopian troops in Bay region; al Shabaab executes civilians in Mogadishu; AQAP official praises al Shabaab attack on US airbase

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement will honor a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Saudi prisoners in detention centers in Yemen. The al Houthi movement released prisoners, including three Saudi nationals, on September 30.[1]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) withdrew numerous armored vehicles and personnel from Taiz governorate on October 16. This comes after the UAE withdrew 200 troops from Aden on October 8 as part of Saudi-led negotiations to end a standoff between the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) and the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The STC seized Aden, the de facto capital of Yemen, in August.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated two roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in two separate attacks targeting Ethiopian troops serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) outside of Baidoa town, in Somalia’s southwestern Bay region, on October 16. The explosions killed at least four Ethiopian soldiers.[3]

Al Shabaab executed three civilians and injured several others in an unspecified area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on October 16.[4]

An al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official, Ibrahim al Qosi alias Khubayb al Sudani, released an audio speech on October 16 praising al Shabaab’s attack on a US airbase in southern Somalia on September 30. Al Shabaab attempted to breach the base with suicide vehicle-borne IEDs but caused no casualties.[5]

Visit our YemenSomalia, and United Arab Emirates storystreams.


[1] “Houthi reveals a request regarding Saudi prisoners and talks about Yemeni prisoners with French citizenship,” Mareb Press, October 17, 2019, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=156629.

[2] “The United Arab Emirates withdraws its troops from Taiz camps and Balhaf port in Shabwa,” Mareb Press, October 16, 2019, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=156616.

[3] Abdirisak Tuuryare, “Four Dead As Blasts Hit AU Troops In Somalia,” Garowe, October 16, 2019, https://mareeg.com/four-dead-as-blasts-hit-au-troops-in-somalia/.

[4] “Three people killed in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, October 17, 2019, http://goobjoog.com/english/three-people-killed-in-mogadishu/.

[5] “AQAP Official Praises Shabaab for Baledogle Airfield Raid in Audio Speech Extolling Brotherhood in Islam,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 16, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

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Yemen: Hadi government and STC expected to sign agreement; Saudi Arabia deploys additional forces to Shabwah; Hadi government authorizes oil shipments to al Hudaydah port

Horn of Africa: SNA troops kill al Shabaab militants in Gedo region; al Shabaab vows to continue attacking Western forces in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, are expected to sign an agreement in Saudi Arabia on October 17 to resolve a conflict in southern Yemen. STC-aligned forces seized Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, from the Hadi government in early August, prompting weeks of clashes in multiple locations in southern Yemen. The two sides have been involved in indirect talks brokered by Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. The agreement is expected to call for the STC’s inclusion in President Hadi’s cabinet as well as Saudi supervision of security forces in Aden.[1]

Saudi Arabia deployed additional forces to Ataq, the capital of Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen, on October 15. STC-aligned forces clashed with Hadi government-aligned forces in Ataq in late August, prompting Saudi forces to deploy to the city to oversee a ceasefire.[2]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government allowed ten ships to deliver oil to the al Houthi-controlled al Hudaydah port in western Yemen in recent days, according to Jordanian media. The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a blockade on al Hudaydah port.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) troops killed 11 al Shabaab militants during an operation on the outskirts of Bardhere town in Somalia’s western Gedo region on October 15. SNA troops recovered hundreds of livestock that the militants had seized from locals in the area.[4]

Al Shabaab’s al Kata’ib Media Foundation released a statement on October 15 emphasizing the group’s commitment to attacking Western military forces in Somalia. The statement follows three separate attempted al Shabaab attacks on Western military personnel in southern Somalia. Al Qaeda separately released a statement on October 16 praising al Shabaab’s September 30 attack on a US airbase in southern Somalia. The attack failed to kill any US or Somali troops.[5]

Visit our YemenSomalia, and Saudi Arabia storystreams.


[1] “Yemeni government, separatists seen inking deal to end Aden standoff this week,” Reuters, October 16, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/yemeni-government-separatists-seen-inking-deal-to-end-aden-standoff-this-week-idUSKBN1WV0SC?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29.

[2] “Saudi forces arrives in Ataq in Shabwah governorate,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, October 16, 2019, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/146969; and Barnett, James, “Yemen File – September 10, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 12, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/yemen-file/yemen-file-september-10-2019.

[3] “Yemen hopes an imminent breakthrough for the fuel crisis,” al Bawaba, October 16, 2019, https://www.albawaba.com/ar/أعمال/اليمن-يأمل-بانفراج-وشيك-لأزمة-الوقود-1315233.

[4] “Somalia army kills militants trying to collect taxes from the locals,” Garowe, October 15, 2019, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-army-kills-militants-trying-to-collect-taxes-from-the-locals.

[5] “Referencing Recent Attacks on Western ‘Crusaders,’ Shabaab Declares Operations Will Escalate Until Somalia ‘Liberated’,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 15, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; “Al-Qaeda Central Threatens U.S. Over Troop Deployment to Saudi Arabia, Lauds Shabaab For Baledogle Airfield Operation,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 16, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Estelle, Emily and Barnett, James, “Africa File – October 1, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 3, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/africa-file/africa-file-october-1-2019.

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Yemen: Saudi forces take control of Aden; Saudi Arabia begins backchannel talks with al Houthis; AQAP claims artillery strikes on Islamic State positions in al Bayda; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Hajjah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab fires mortars at Mogadishu’s international airport; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Kenyan police officers in Garissa County; al Shabaab captures village in Middle Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants kill Deputy Governor of Middle Shabelle

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi forces have taken control of Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, in recent days as part of an effort to end a power struggle between President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a UAE-backed separatist group. Saudi forces have replaced UAE forces at Aden’s airport and military bases in the city. STC-aligned forces seized Aden in August and have clashed with Hadi government-aligned forces in multiple locations in southern Yemen since then. The two parties are close to reaching an agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia that will give the STC cabinet positions in the Hadi government and will place STC-aligned forces under Hadi government command.[1]

Saudi Arabia has begun backchannel talks with the al Houthi movement for the first time in over two years, according to an October 11 Financial Times report. The talks are aimed at achieving a ceasefire, which the UN hopes it can translate into a political settlement to Yemen’s civil war.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed multiple artillery and mortar strikes against the Islamic State in Yemen in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on October 13. The group also claimed to have sniped an Islamic State militant in the Qayfa area of al Bayda.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes targeting al Houthi militants in Harad district in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen on October 15.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants fired mortars at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) headquarters located in Aden Adde International Airport in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on October 13. The attack wounded at least six people.[5]

Al Shabaab detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Kenyan police officers near Degow in Garissa County in eastern Kenya on October 12. The explosion killed 11 officers.[6]

Al Shabaab militants captured El-Gelow village, located approximately 18 miles from Mogadishu in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, on October 15 following the withdrawal of Somali National Army troops from the village. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate a remote-controlled IED in the area targeting the retreating troops.[7]

Suspected al Shabaab militants killed the Deputy Governor of Middle Shabelle region, Mohamed Sugal, and his son in a grenade attack in Middle Shabelle’s capital, Jowhar, on October 13.[8]


[1] “Saudis take control of Yemen’s Aden to end stand-off between allies,” Reuters, October 14, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/saudis-take-control-of-yemens-aden-to-end-stand-off-between-allies-idUSKBN1WT19R.

[2] England, Andrew and Kerr, Simon, “Riyadh holds talks with Houthis in effort to break Yemen deadlock,” Financial Times, October 11, 2019, https://www.ft.com/content/0e924804-ec31-11e9-85f4-d00e5018f061.

[3] “AQAP PHOTOGRAPHS ARTILLERY AND MORTAR STRIKES ON IS POSITIONS IN BAYDA,” SITE, October 14, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[4] “Houthis killed during airstrikes in Yemen’s Hajjah,” Arab News, October 15, 2019, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1569096/middle-east.

[5] “Guterres condemns mortar attack on UN compound in Somalia,” Garowe, October 14, 2019, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/guterres-condemns-mortar-attack-on-un-compound-in-somalia; “Shabaab Claims Credit for Mortar Strike on Base Housing AU and UN Offices, Bombing in Kenya,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 14, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[6] Wako, Amina, “President Kenyatta mourns 11 fallen GSU officers,” Daily Nation, October 13, 2019, https://www.nation.co.ke/news/President-Kenyatta-mourns-11-fallen-GSU-officers/1056-5309652-13ly8qp/index.html

[7] “Somalia’s Al Shabaab seizes town near capital after army pull out,” Garowe, October 15, 2019, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalias-al-shabaab-seizes-town-near-capital-after-army-pull-out.

[8] Dhaysane, Mohammed, “Grenade attack kills deputy governor, son in Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, October 13, 2019, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/grenade-attack-kills-deputy-governor-son-in-somalia/1612699.

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