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 claim attack on Abu Dhabi International Airport; IRGC Quds Force claims Red Sea is no longer secure; Saudi Arabia halts oil shipments through the Bab al Mandab; Hadi forces begin operation to seize al Malajim district in Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED targets SNA vehicle near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; ISIS claims IED in Elasha Biyaha, Middle Shabelle region; U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia calls for efforts to end ethnic conflict; Nile dam project manager killed in Addis Ababa

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces claimed to launch multiple unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on Abu Dhabi International Airport in the UAE on July 26. The airport confirmed an incident involving a supply vehicle but did not comment on the al Houthi claim.[1]

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani stated that “the Red Sea, which was secure, is no longer secure with the American presence” on July 26. Al Houthi forces damaged a Saudi oil tanker near Yemen’s Red Sea coast on July 25. Soleimani also stated that Iran will win if the U.S. begins a war.[2]

Saudi Arabia halted oil shipments through the Bab al Mandab Strait due to al Houthi attacks on July 25. Saudi officials reported that al Houthi forces attacked two oil tankers on July 25 near Yemen’s Red Sea coast, damaging one. The chairman of the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company announced on July 26 that Kuwait may also halt shipments through the Bab al Mandab.[3]

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi began an operation to seize al Malajim district from al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. Hadi government forces are advancing from Nati district, north of al Malajim, near the Shabwah-al Bayda governorate border. Hadi government forces are attempting to seize the main road connecting southern and northern Yemen that runs through al Bayda.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) vehicle between Afgoi and Wanlaweyn in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on July 25. The explosion killed six soldiers. The SNA vehicle was transporting supplies to Baledogle airbase, where U.S. special forces train SNA forces.[5]

ISIS claimed to have detonated an IED that caused 14 casualties in Elasha Biyaha in Middle Shabelle region near Mogadishu on July 25.[6]

The United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael Raynor, expressed concern over ongoing intercommunal violence in Ethiopia during a speech in Addis Ababa on July 24. Ambassador Raynor praised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his reforms and called on the government to foster tolerance and protect free speech as a means of ending ethnic conflict. Violence between ethnic Oromo and Somalis in Ethiopia killed hundreds and displaced over one million people in 2017.[7]

Unknown assailants killed the project manager of Ethiopia’s $4 billion flagship dam in Addis Ababa on July 25. Simegnew Bekele was shot while sitting in his car in Meskel Square in central Addis Ababa. Bekele was the project manager of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is set to become Africa’s largest dam. The construction of the dam has increased regional tensions in recent years.[8]

[1] "'Incident' reported at Abu Dhabi Airport," The National, July 27, 2018,; and AUH, Twitter, July 26, 2018,

[2] "Iranian general warns Trump: 'War will destroy everything you own," Reuters, July 26, 2018,; and “Iran's Quds force chief says Red Sea no longer secure with U.S. presence: TV,” Reuters, July 26, 2018,   

[3] “Saudi Arabia halts oil exports in Red Sea lane after Houthi attacks,” Reuters, July 25, 2018,; and “Kuwait is considering suspending the passage of oil tankers through Bab al Mandab,” al Masdar Online, July 26, 2018,

[4] “Government forces launch a large-scale military operation to liberate the al Malajim district in al Bayda,” al Masdar Online, July 26, 2018,  

[5] “IED kills 6 SNA soldiers near Afgoye,” Radio Dalsan, July 25, 2018,; “BREAKING: Six soldiers killed in Somalia explosion,” Mareeg, July 25, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 25, 2018,; and Tuuryare_Africa, Twitter, July 25, 2018,

[6] MrKyruer,Twitter, July 25, 2018,; and Terror Monitor, Twitter, July 26, 2018,

[7] Daniel Mumbere, “U.S. expresses concern over prevailing insecurity within Ethiopia,” Africa News, July 25, 2018,; and “Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor at ‘Our Ethiopia’ video challenge awards ceremony,” US Embassy, July 23, 2018,

[8] “Ethiopia’s nile dam engineer died of bullet wound - Police chief,” Africa News, July 26, 2018,; and “Ethiopian Nile dam manager found shot dead in his car” Reuters, July 26, 2018,

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