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: Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills al Houthi movement leader’s brother; Hadi government urges AQAP-linked militia to stay in Taiz city; Hadi government prime minister discusses Geneva consultations with U.S. ambassador; U.S. confirms airstrikes targeting AQAP in Yemen; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile at Najran, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants storm SNA base in Afgoi town, Lower Shabelle region; UK government pledges funds to AMISOM and counterterrorism training to Kenya; South Sudan rebel leaders sign peace deal in Khartoum; Somali and Chinese presidents meet in Beijing during Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

Yemen Security Brief

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike reportedly killed Abdul Khaliq al Houthi, the brother of al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi, in al Hudaydah governorate on August 31. Al Houthi media has not confirmed his death. The strike occurred in Bajil district, north of al Hudaydah city, according to al Arabiya. Abdul Khaliq al Houthi was the sixth person listed on the Saudi-led coalition’s most wanted list of al Houthi officials and commanders. He was also sanctioned by the UN.[1]

The Salafi Abu Abbas militia reversed its decision to withdraw from Taiz city on August 30 after President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government officials urged it to stay in the city. Abu Abbas planned to withdraw from Taiz after it clashed with other anti-al Houthi forces in the city and relinquished control of government institutions after a mediated settlement. The U.S. and Gulf States sanctioned the leader of Abu Abbas in October 2017 for supporting AQAP and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Abu Abbas’s leader facilitated AQAP’s entrance into Taiz city. The Abu Abbas militia is one of the main forces that combats al Houthi forces in eastern parts of Taiz city.[2] 

Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghir met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller on August 30 to discuss the September 6 UN Consultations in Geneva. Daghir claimed that the al Houthi movement’s influence over UN aid groups negatively influenced the August 28 UN human rights report on Yemen. Ambassador Tueller emphasized America will support the Hadi government’s counterterrorism and stabilization efforts in areas under the Hadi government’s control.[3]

U.S. Central Command has conducted six airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) since May 16, according to an August 30 Department of Defense press release. The airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in al Bayda, Shabwah, and Hadramawt governorates. The U.S. has not commented on a July airstrike that killed AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate. U.S. forces have conducted 34 airstrikes in Yemen in 2018. The U.S. increased its rate of airstrikes targeting AQAP and the ISIS under the Trump administration, conducting roughly 130 airstrikes in Yemen in 2017.[4]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 ballistic missile at Najran city, southern Saudi Arabia on August 30. Saudi air defenses intercepted the missile, according to the Saudi-led coalition spokesperson. Debris from the missile injured seven civilians.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Afgoi town, Lower Shabelle region on August 31. Al Shabaab killed three SNA soldiers.[6]

British Prime Minister Theresa May met with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya in Nairobi on August 30 as part of May’s diplomatic tour of Africa. The United Kingdom and Kenya signed a new security agreement reaffirming the UK’s commitment to fight terrorism in Kenya and Somalia. The UK will fund a counter-improvised explosive device (IED) training facility in Nairobi and provide training for Kenyan border control and aviation security. May announced an additional pledge of nine million USD for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as well as 77 million USD in disaster relief for Somalia and   32 million USD for Somali state-building efforts.[7]

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar signed a revitalized peace deal aimed at ending the country’s five year civil war in Khartoum, Sudan on August 30. Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO) and other opposition parties initially refused to sign the peace deal, which is similar to a 2015 peace deal that Machar signed, earlier this week. The SPLM-IO announced that it had decided to sign the agreement after several meetings with Sudanese mediators.[8]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on August 31 ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The two leaders discussed strengthening bilateral relations and setting new goals for economic and development partnerships.[9]

[1] “Reports: Abdul-Malik al-Houthi’s brother dies in Hodeidah following air strikes,” al Arabiya, August 31, 2018,
View Citations

[2] “Abu al Abbas renounces decision to leave Taiz city,” Aden al Ghad, August 30, 2018,; and “Letter dated 26 January 2018 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen mandated by Security Council resolution 2342 (2017) addressed to the President of the Security Council,” UNSC, January 26, 2018,

[3] “Bin Daghir meets with the U.S. ambassador and confirms that the UN team relied on false reports,” Khabar News Agency, August 31, 2018,

[4] “CENTCOM Officials Provide Update on Counterterrorism Strikes in Yemen,” U.S. Department of Defense, August 30, 2018,  

[5] “Badr 1 ballistic missile strikes Saudi camp in Najran,” al Masirah, August 30, 2018,; and “7 hit by shrapnel from al Houthi missile in Najran,” Hadramawt Net, August 31, 2018,

[6] Al-Shabaab Clash with SNA in Afgoye Town, Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia, Claim Defeating Somali Troops,” Strategic Intelligence, August 31, 2018,; and “Al Shabaab attack in Afgoye,” Mareeg, August 31, 2018,

[7] “UK reaffirms commitment to fight terrorism in Kenya, Somalia,” Nation, August 31, 2018,; “Britain calls for world support to stabilize Somalia,” Xinhua, August 31, 2018,; and Holly Pyne, “Theresa May commits to new funding for combating terrorism in Kenya,” TalkRadio, August 31, 2018,

[8] Carol Van Dam & Michael Atit, “After Delay, Rebel Leader Inks South Sudan Peace Deal,” Voice of America, August 31, 2018,; and “ South Sudan’s major opposition group signs final peace deal,” Xinhua, August 31, 2018,

[9] “Farmajo holds bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping,” Shabelle Media, August 31, 2018, and “Farmajo meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping,” Mareeg, August 31, 2018, and “ H.E. President Farmajo holds bilateral talks with H.E. Xi Jinping,” Puntland News24, August 31, 2018,  

Arrow down red
Sep '18
Aug '18