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 panel reports Iran may play constructive role in Yemen negotiations; Hadi government successfully exports its first crude oil shipment since war’s outbreak; Hadi government forces advance on two fronts in Sa’ada governorate; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces renew offensive south of al Hudaydah city; al Houthi forces launch missiles at Taiz and al Bayda governorates; Yemen President Hadi travels to al Mahrah governorate for first time as president

Horn of Africa: Djibouti criticizes Somali president for suggesting UN lift sanctions on Eritrea; KDF launch airstrike on al Shabaab in Gedo region; al Shabaab IED kills two Djiboutian soldiers in Bulo Burde, Hiran region, central Somalia; al Shabaab attacks SNA barracks in Mogadishu; al Shabaab kills police officer in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen reported that Iran may be offering “a constructive role” in achieving solutions to the Yemen conflict on July 30. The Panel’s report suggested that Iran is now willing to participate in peace talks after its failure to negotiate a ceasefire during Ramadan with European states. The panel also found that al Houthi forces continue to use sophisticated weaponry from Iran in 2018.[1]

Yemen exported a shipment of crude oil on August 1 for the first time since the outbreak of the war. The Ministry of Oil and Minerals exported 500,000 barrels of crude oil from the coast of Shabwah governorate, central Yemen. Shabwah will receive 20% of the government’s revenue from the shipment. The Hadi government is attempting to revitalize the oil industry in Hadramawt, Ma’rib, and Shabwah governorates after oil companies departed Yemen in 2015.[2]

Forces aligned with the Hadi government seized a mountain range overlooking the center of Baqim district, northwestern Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on July 31. Hadi government forces seized the mountain range after several days of clashes with al Houthi forces. Hadi government forces also advanced down the main road in Kitaf district connecting Sa’ada city, the provincial capital, to the Saudi border on July 31. Sa’ada is the historic stronghold of the al Houthi movement.[3]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces renewed an offensive in al Darayhimi district, south of al Hudaydah city near Yemen’s western coast on July 31. Southern Giants Brigades advanced inland from the coastal road toward the center of the district and are now on the outskirts of al Darayhimi city. Al Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile at Emirati-backed forces at an unspecified location on the western coast on August 1, according to al Houthi news sources.[4]

Al Houthi forces fired ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in Taiz and al Bayda governorates. Al Houthi forces fired a Zilzal 2 missile at coalition-backed forces in al Silw district, Taiz governorate on July 31. Al Houthi forces also fired an unnamed short-range missile at Hadi government forces in an unspecified location of al Bayda governorate on July 29. Hadi government forces are advancing into central al Bayda from the border of Shabwah governorate.[5]

Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi traveled to al Mahrah governorate for the first time as president on August 1. President Hadi is organizing a series of development projects in the governorate in meetings with local officials. Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al Jaber also traveled to al Mahrah on August 1. Residents of al Mahrah protested Saudi Arabia’s control of ports and border crossings in the governorate in July. Hadi is reportedly also attempting to mediate tensions between Saudi forces and local officials.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Djiboutian embassy in Mogadishu issued a letter to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on August 1 regarding Somalia’s recent re-opening of diplomatic relations with Eritrea. The letter expressed the Djiboutiian government’s “shock” and disappointment regarding Farmajo’s support for lifting UN sanctions on Eritrea. Djibouti and Eritrea have a longstanding border dispute.[7]

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) launched an airstrike targeting al Shabaab barracks in Garbaharey city, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on July 31. The airstrike reportedly destroyed the barracks and killed 17 al Shabaab militants. The airstrikes also killed two civilians, according to residents of Garbaharey.[8]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Djiboutian soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at the Bulo Burde airport in Hiran region, central Somalia on July 31. The IED killed two Djiboutian soldiers and wounded three others.[9]

Al Shabaab attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) barracks in Daynile district, Mogadishu on July 31. Al Shabaab militants killed an SNA officer and destroyed two military vehicles in the attack. The militants also captured weapons.[10]

Al Shabaab killed a police officer from the pro-government militia “Abd Ali” in Yaqshid district, Mogadishu on July 31.[11]

[1] Edith M. Lederer, “UN experts say Iran might want to help end war in Yemen,” AP News, August 1, 2018,

[2] “The first shipment since the war began… Yemen exported 500,000 barrels of oil from Shabwa,” Al Masdar Online, August 1, 2018,

[3] “The army completes control of the mountains overlooking Baqim center in Sa’ada,” Aden Lang, August 1, 2018,; and “The army is approaching the Dar al Hadith center in Sa’ada,” Yafa News, July 31, 2018,

[4] “Giants spokesperson to al Ain al Akhbar: Significant progress in al Darayhimi in al Hudaydah,” al Ain al Akhbar, August 1, 2018,; and “A short-range ballistic missile handed to a gathering of invaders on the western coast,” Saba News, August 1, 2018,    

[5] “Zilzal 2 handed to a gathering of mercenaries of aggression in al Silw in Taiz,” Saba News, July 31, 2018,; and “A short-range ballistic missile handed to a gathering of mercenaries of aggression in al Bayda,” Saba News, July 29, 2018,

[6] “Hadi and the Saudi ambassador to Yemen in al Mahrah to open projects,” al Arabiya, August 1, 2018,هادي-وسفير-السعودية-باليمن-يصلان-المهرة-لافتتاح-مشاريع.html; and “The President of the Republic lay the foundation stone for a number of developmental and vital projects in al Mahrah,” Saba New, August 1, 2018,

[7] “Djibouti slams Somalia for calling lifting UN sanctions on Eritrea,” Mareeg, August 1, 2018,; Tuuryare_Africa, Twitter, August 1, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, August 1, 2018,; and Radio Dalsan, Twitter, August 1, 2018,

[8] “Kenya Air Force Conducts Air Strike Inside Somalia’s Gedo Frontier Kills 17 Militants,” Intelligence Briefs, August 1, 2018,; and “Kenyan strike kills two people in Somalia,” Mareeg, August 1, 2018,

[9] “Shabaab claims killing Djiboutian forces in explosion at Bulo Burde airport,” SITE, August 1, 2018, available by subscription at

[10] “Shabaab claims killing Djiboutian forces in explosion at Bulo Burde airport,” SITE, August 1, 2018, available by subscription at

[11] “Shabaab claims killing Djiboutian forces in explosion at Bulo Burde airport,” SITE, August 1, 2018, available by subscription at

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