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: Yemeni officials report U.S. sanctions on Iran will compel al Houthi movement to negotiate; UN special envoy to Yemen meets with Yemeni social and political figures in London; militants attempt to assassinate Islah Party leader in Aden city

Horn of Africa: SNA and AMISOM forces seize al Shabaab town in Lower Shabelle region; likely al Shabaab IEDs target AMISOM in Mogadishu; al Shabaab remote-controlled IED targets KDF troops in Lamu County, Kenya; Ethiopian authorities shut off internet in Somali regional state; Ethiopian government signs peace agreement with Oromo rebels; Djibouti rejects international court ruling over port contract with Emirati company

Yemen Security Brief.

Yemeni officials reported on August 8 that U.S. sanctions on Iran will facilitate an end to the war in Yemen. Yemeni Ambassador to the U.S. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said al Houthi forces are starting to engage more in the peace process as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Deputy Governor of Ma’rib city Abd Rabbo Moftah said that Iranian support for al Houthi movement has decreased. Saudi military officials claimed that al Houthi forces have also “somewhat” fractured since the U.S. withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with 22 Yemeni public figures and rights activists near London on August 7. The group discussed reinstating the Yemeni political process. Griffiths emphasized the importance of including of Yemeni social and political groups in reconstruction efforts. Griffiths invited parties from Yemen to consultations in Geneva scheduled for September 6 to discuss the framework for negotiations to resolve the Yemen conflict.[2]

Militants attempted to assassinate an Islah Party leader, Arafat Hazam, in al Mualla district, Aden City, southern Yemen on August 8. Militants detonated a car bomb outside of Hazam’s house. Hazam was not injured in the attack. Militants attempted to assassinate Islah Party leader Arif Ahmed Ali with an improvised explosive device (IED) on July 31 in al Mualla district.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops seized Gaywarow town, Lower Shabelle region on August 8. The SNA claimed that Gaywarow was an important al Shabaab stronghold in the region. SNA and AMISOM forces clashed with al Shabaab but no deaths or injuries were reported.[4]

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated two IEDs targeting AMISOM personnel carriers at SOS junction, Mogadishu on August 8. The explosion killed two civilians.[5]

Al Shabaab detonated a remote-controlled IED targeting Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Bodhei area, Lamu County, Kenya on August 8. Al Shabaab claimed killing 11 soldiers, but local media reported that seven soldiers were injured.[6]

Ethiopian authorities shut down internet access in the Somali regional state on August 8. Violence between ethnic Oromo and Somalis has killed dozens since August 4. This is the first time the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has imposed an internet blackout since taking office in April.[7]

The Ethiopian government signed a peace agreement with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an Eritrea-based rebel group, in Asmara on August 7. The agreement requires the OLF to conduct its political activities within the Ethiopian democratic process. The Ethiopian government released OLF prisoners and took the group off its list of terrorist organizations earlier this summer.[8]

Djibouti rejected a ruling by the London Court of International Arbitration on the ownership of the Doraleh port terminal on August 2. The ruling stated that Djibouti acted unlawfully when it seized control of the port from the Dubai-based DP World corporation on February 22, 2018. The Doraleh port is Djibouti’s largest source of employment and revenue.[9]

[1] Hollie McKay, “US withdrawal from Iran deal helping wind down Yemen war, officials say,” Fox News, August 7, 2018,; and Ramadan al Sherbini, “US sanctions on Iran ‘will help end Yemen war’,” Gulf News, August 8, 2018
[2] “The Special Envoy and Yemeni figures discuss the resumption of the political process,” UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, August 8, 2018,; and “Former officials and other hostile to Hadi. What does Griffiths want from London?,” Al Masdar Online, August 8, 2018,
[3] “Islah party leader targeted by assassination attempt in Aden,” Al Masdar Online, August 8, 2018,; and “A leader of the Islah party escaped from an explosion that targeted his car in Aden,” al Masdar Online, July 31, 2018,
[4] “Somalia, AU forces seize key area from al Shabaab,” Mareeg, August 8, 2018,
[5] “Somalia blasts hit AU soldiers in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, August 8, 2018,; and Live from Somalia, Twitter, August 8, 2018,
[6] David Goldman, “Al-Shabaab Detonate IED in Kenya Targeting Army Patrol. S.I Situation Report” Intelligence Briefs, August 8, 2018,
[7] “Internet in eastern Ethiopia shut down after regional violence,” Reuters, August 8, 2018,; and Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ethiopia must lift internet outage in eastern region - Coalition,” Africa News, August 8, 2018,
[8] “Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ethiopian Government agreed to end hostility,” Borkena, August 7, 2018,; and “Ethiopian Government and OLF Sign Reconciliation Agreement,” AllAfrica, August 8, 2018,
[9] Dominic Dudley, “Dispute Between Dubai and Djibouti Over Port Seizure Continues, Despite Tribunal Ruling,” Forbes, August 3, 2018,; and “Djibouti ‘rejects’ UAE port legal action,” Middle East Monitor, August 7, 2018,

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