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: Al Houthi movement threatens additional drone attacks; Hadi government head of military intelligence dies from wounds from al Houthi drone attack; al Houthi movement accuses head of UN monitoring team of impeding progress in al Hudaydah; U.S. Secretary of State discusses Yemen with Saudi leaders

Horn of Africa: U.S.-backed Somali forces kill dozens of al Shabaab militants in raids outside Janale; Ethiopian military bombs OLF training camps in western Oromia; al Shabaab militants assassinate suspected Islamic State sympathizer in Buale; al Shabaab militants raid Kenyan police station in Garissa town; al Shabaab militants attempt to assassinate district commissioner in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi movement Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Sarea stated on January 13 that al Houthi forces will soon be able to conduct multiple simultaneous drone attacks. Sarea said that al Houthi forces will cease these attacks if the Saudi-led coalition ends its operations.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Head of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Mohammed Saleh Tamah, died on January 13 of wounds that he sustained from the al Houthi drone attack on al Anad airbase in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen. The January 10 attack also wounded President Hadi’s military chief of staff, the governor of Lahij, and at least six others.[2]

The al Houthi delegation boycotted a meeting with the UN ceasefire monitoring team on January 13. Al Houthi movement lead negotiator Mohamad al Salam stated on January 13 that the head of the UN ceasefire monitoring team, Patrick Cammaert, was impeding progress in al Hudaydah by attempting to “implement another agenda.” Salam urged UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to investigate the matter.[3]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the Yemen conflict in separate meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed in Salman on January 14. Secretary Pompeo and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed on the need for additional de-escalation measures and adherence to the Stockholm Agreements. Secretary Pompeo also discussed the Yemen conflict and other regional issues with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al Jubeir and Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz on January 13.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S.-backed Somali special forces raided al Shabaab-held villages outside Janale town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on January 13. The raids killed 85 al Shabaab militants, including five foreign fighters, according to a Somali radio station. The foreign fighters came from Tanzania, Egypt, Mauritania, Yemen, and Syria.[5]

The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) conducted airstrikes against Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) militant camps in Qellem Wellega zone, western Oromia region, western Ethiopia on January 13. Alleged OLF members robbed two banks in Qellem Wellega on January 12 and took at least a dozen hostages. The OLF signed a peace agreement with the Ethiopian government and returned from exile in the summer of 2018. Ethiopian federal authorities have since blamed OLF members for multiple attacks and ethnic clashes in Oromia region.[6]

Al Shabaab militants assassinated an al Shabaab official suspected of being an Islamic State supporter in Buale town, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on January 13. The official, Yahya Haji Fiile “Abu Zakariye” was a former member of al Shabaab’s shura council before he left the group over its killing of a senior pro-Islamic State official in 2016. Abu Zakariye reportedly returned to Buale after negotiations with al Shabaab.[7]

Al Shabaab militants raided a police station in Garissa town, Garissa County, eastern Kenya on January 13. Al Shabaab claimed to briefly seize the Weil-marer area of town where the station is located. The group also claimed to destroy a Safaricom Telecom mast in Garissa. No casualties have been reported.[8]

Likely al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate the Daynile district commissioner in Daynile district, Mogadishu on January 12. Militants threw a grenade at the commissioner's residence, killing one bystander and wounding five other people. The commissioner escaped unharmed.[9]

[1] “Spokesman of the Armed Forces reveals new systems of the Air Force,” Saba News, January 13, 2019,; and “Yemen's Houthis threaten more drone attacks,” Reuters, January 13, 2019,

[2] “The prime minister and the leaders of the state perform funeral prayers for the martyr Tamah in Aden,” Saba New, January 14, 2019,; and Mohammed Hatem and Zainab Fattah, “Yemen's Army Intelligence Chief Dies of Drone Attack Wounds,” January 13, 2019,

[3] Sara Elizabeth Williams, “Yemen ceasefire under strain as Houthi rebels boycott talks, threaten further drone attacks,” The Telegraph, January 13, 2019,; and Mohamad al Salam, Twitter, January 13, 2019,

[4] “Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir,” U.S. Department of State, January 13, 2019,; U.S. Mission to KSA, Twitter, January 14, 2019,; and  U.S. Mission to KSA, Twitter, January 14, 2019,

[5] “Foreign jihadists among 85 al Shabaab killed by US troops in Somalia,” Mareeg, January 13, 2019,; and “US forces raid on civilian homes in Somalia,” Mareeg, January 13, 2019,

[6] “Ethiopia Defense Force begins airstrike in western Oromia; says targets are OLF military training camps,” Addis Standard, January 13, 2019,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 13, 2019,

[8] “Kenya: Somali Islamists attacks on police station in Kenya,” Mareeg, January 13, 2019,

[9] “One dead, five wounded in bomb attack in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, January 13, 2019,

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