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: Locals prevent the construction of Saudi military facilities in al Mahrah governorate; al Houthis declare state of emergency in Sa’ada governorate; UN warns of  new cholera epidemic in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED targets deputy defense minister’s convoy in Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims to occupy Ijara town in Garissa County, southeastern Kenya; Somaliland authorities arrest two ex-ministers from Ethiopia’s Somali regional state in Hargeisa; U.S. congressional delegation visits Ethiopia

Yemen Security Brief

Locals prevented the construction of four Saudi military facilities in al Mahrah governorate on August 21. Locals have been protesting Saudi Arabia’s military presence in the governorate and criticizing Saudi Arabia for not working through existing local officials. The governor of al Mahrah ordered the arrest of organizers of the anti-Saudi protests on August 22.[1]

Al Houthi forces declared a state of emergency in the Maran area of Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen, according to Saudi and Emirati news. Hadi government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition began an offensive on villages surrounding Maran on August 22. Al Houthi forces reportedly withdrew a number of their leaders from the area.[2]

The United Nations warned of a possible third wave of the cholera epidemic in Yemen. More than 1.1 million suspected cases of cholera in Yemen have occurred since April 2017 and the number is rising, according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy carrying Deputy Minister of Defense Abdullahi Oolad Roble in Daynile district, Mogadishu on August 23. The explosion killed at least one person and injured others, but Roble escaped unharmed. Al Shabaab previously targeted the convoy of outgoing deputy SNA commander Abdullahi Ali Aanood with an IED near Shalambood, Lower Shabelle region on August 17. General Aanood escaped unharmed.[4]

Al Shabaab claimed to occupy Ijara town in Garissa County, southeastern Kenya on August 20. Al Shabaab claimed to destroy a police station and an office of the telecommunications company Safaricom. The claims are not confirmed. Al Shabaab has previously attacked police outposts and Safaricom offices in Ijara.[5]

Somaliland immigration authorities detained two ministers from Ethiopia’s Somali regional state on August 23 in Hargeisa. The two men, Ibrahim Adam Mahad and Abdimajid Ahmed Jama, served as the ministers of education and justice, respectively, in the cabinet of regional president Mohamed Omar “Abdi Iley.” The Ethiopian federal government launched a military intervention in Somali regional state to quell ethnic violence on August 3. The intervention led to the arrest of Abdi Iley, whom the federal government accused of widespread human rights abuses.[6]

A U.S. congressional delegation traveled to Ethiopia on August 23 to discuss Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform efforts. Republican Congressman Chris Smith, who is leading the delegation, stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” about Abiy’s political reforms. Smith confirmed that the Ethiopian government is in the process of amending its controversial anti-terrorism laws, which critics allege the government has used to punish dissent. The delegation will also discuss recent ethnic clashes along the border between Ethiopia’s Oromo and Somali regional states.[7]


[1] “Yemenis shut down construction of Saudi military base,” al Jazeera, August 23, 2018,; “Al Mahrah residents stop the building of Saudi military sites,” al Jazeera, August 21, 2018,; “Yemen now al Mahrah: The governor is directing the arrest of leaders of the ‘popular escalation’ against Saudi Arabia,” Gulf Eyes, August 23, 2018,; “Bakrit to arrest al Mahrah figures rejecting the Saudi presence .. And activists warn of pouring fire on oil,” al Mahrah Post, August 22, 2018,

[2] “Al Houthis declare emergency and withdraw a number of their leaders in Sa’ada,” YemenAkhbar, August 23, 2018,; and “Houthis declare ‘state of emergency’ in their stronghold of Saada’s Marran,” al Arabiya, August 22, 2018,

[3] “UN warns of a possible new cholera epidemic in Yemen,” ABC News, August 22, 2018,

[4] “Multiple casualties reported in Mogadishu explosion,” Mareeg, August 23, 2018,; “Shabaab claims assassination attempt on Somali deputy defense minister in capital,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 23, 2018, translation available by subscription at; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 17, 2018,

[5] “Shabaab claims assassination attempt on Somali deputy defense minister in capital,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 23, 2018, translation available by subscription at

[6] “Two ex-ministers of Ethio-Somali region detained in Somaliland,” Halbeeg, August 23, 2018,; and “Abdi Iley’s cabinet ministers were held in Hargeisa,” Mareeg, August 23, 2018,

[7] “U.S. delegation visits Ethiopia to discuss reforms, human rights,” VOA, August 23, 2018,

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