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 forces strike Saudi oil tanker near Yemen’s Red Sea coast; UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths meets with al Houthi leaders in Sana’a; al Houthi movement reportedly attempts to oust GPC leadership in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Likely U.S. airstrikes target al Shabaab in Qalimow village, Middle Shabelle region; U.S. airstrikes target al Shabaab in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Somali president orders operation against al Shabaab in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces damaged a Saudi oil tanker near Yemen’s Red Sea coast on July 25. Saudi officials confirmed the attack on the tanker. The al Houthi movement claimed its navy targeted the Saudi barge Dammam near Yemen’s western coast. Al Houthi naval forces also claimed to attack Saudi-led coalition forces at Mokha port in Taiz governorate, south of al Hudaydah on July 23. The attack in Mokha destroyed a dock, equipment stores, and operation rooms, according to al Houthi media.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths traveled to Sana'a to continue negotiations over al Hudaydah port and the Yemen civil war with al Houthi officials on July 25. Hadi government Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani blamed the al Houthi movement for intentionally delaying negotiations over al Hudaydah and threatened to assault the port in a July 24 press briefing.[2]

The al Houthi movement is attempting to replace leadership of the Sana’a-based General People’s Congress (GPC) party with al Houthi loyalists, according to July 25 reports from anti-al Houthi news sources. The report claims the al Houthi movement is attempting to replace current Sana’a GPC leader Sultan al Barakani with tribal leader Zaid Abu Ali and appoint al Houthi Prime Minister Abdul Aziz bin Habtour as the party’s secretary-general. The GPC party splintered into several factions after al Houthi forces killed former Yemeni president and GPC leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Likely U.S. airstrikes targeted al Shabaab militants in Qalimow village, Middle Shabelle region on July 24. Al Shabaab had taken control of the village on July 24 after Somali forces had withdrawn. No casualties have been reported. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has not commented on the strikes.[4]

A U.S. airstrike targeted al Shabaab in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on July 23. The airstrike occurred near the base in Sanguni, Lower Jubba region where al Shabaab killed an American soldier on June 8. Al Shabaab conducted a complex attack against Somali National Army (SNA) forces at the same base earlier on July 23. No casualties have been reported from the airstrike.[5]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo ordered a security operation against al Shabaab in Mogadishu on July 23. Farmajo deployed the 14th October Battalion of the SNA in Hawl Wadag and Dharkenley districts. Al Shabaab attacked the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu on July 14 and attacked the interior and security ministries on July 7.[6]

[1] “Coalition: failed attempt to attack the Houthis on a Saudi oil tanker,” Al Arabiya, July 25, 2018,; “The coalition announced targeting the Houthis for a Saudi oil vessel in the Red Sea,” Al Masdar Online, July 25, 2018,; "Houthi attack damages Saudi ship off Yemen coast," Reuters, July 25, 2018,;"Naval Force Targets Saudi Dammam Barge off West Coast," Al Masirah, July 25, 2018,; Masirah TV, Twitter, July 25, 2018,; and "The naval forces carry out an offensive operation on the locations of the concentration of the invasion forces in the port of al Mokha," Saba News, July 23, 2018,
[2] Murat al-Arifi, “UN envoy in Sanaa for talks with Yemen rebels,” Anadolu Agency, July 25, 2018,; “Houthis’ tactics of buying time will prove futile: Yemeni Foreign Minister,” Gulf News, July 24, 2018,; “The UN envoy arrives in Sana’a to meet the leaders in al-Houthi group,” Al Masdar Online, July 25, 2018,; and “A government official threatens the Houthis… We will not wait long results of the initative of the UN envoy,” Mareb Press, July 25, 2018,
[3] “Houthi Split Eminent as Members Vy for Parliamentary Power,” Al Bawaba, July 25, 2018,; and “Houthi militias overthrew the volcanic and pressure to control the conference,” Mareb Press, July 25, 2018,
[4] “Fighter jets carry conduct airstrike in southern Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, July 25, 2018,; “Airstrikes hit village in Middle Shabelle region as Al-Shabab retreat,” Goobjoog, July 25, 2018,; and “Shabaab claims capturing town in Middle Shabelle,” SITE, July 25, 2018, available by subscription at
[5] Ryan Browne, “US conducts airstrike in Somalia near base where US soldier was killed,” CNN, July 25, 2018,; and “US drone hits al Shabaab targets in Somalia,” Mareeg, July 25, 2018,
[6] “Somali troops carry put massive security operation in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, July 25, 2018,; and “Somalia: Military takes full charge of Mogadishu security after attacks,” Garowe, July 24, 2018,

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