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 demonstrate new UAV capabilities; Emirati-backed forces release 46 prisoners in southern Yemen; Hadi government and al Houthi forces exchange prisoners in Ma’rib governorate; Saudi-led coalition targets al Houthi prison in al Hudaydah governorate; gunmen assassinate police commander in Aden City

Horn of Africa: Likely al Shabaab roadside bomb kills one at Banadir junction, Hodan district, Mogadishu; al Shabaab executes Somali elder in Gamboole area, Balad district, Middle Shabelle region; Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Somali livestock imports; al Shabaab bans plastic bags

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces distributed a video of its forces using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to drop explosives on Emirati-backed Yemeni forces in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on July 2. The only armed UAVs that al Houthi forces used up to this point were kamikaze drones that rammed targets with explosive payloads. An al Houthi air force spokesperson stated that al Houthi forces are working to improve the range and lethality of these UAVs. Al Houthi forces also claimed to launch a new short-range ballistic missile at Emirati-backed forces along the Red Sea coast on June 30.[1]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces released 46 detainees from Beir Ahmed prison in Aden City, southern Yemen on July 3, 2018. The prison has released two other sets of detainees since an Associated Press report revealed torture and sexual abuse in the Emirati-controlled prisons on June 21.[2]

Hadi government forces exchanged prisoners with al Houthi forces in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen on July 2. The al Houthi forces released seven detained civilians in exchange for seven al Houthi fighters. Al Houthi forces released journalist Ibrahim Al Jhdabi, who has been detained since February 2017.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes on an al Houthi base on Zabid town, al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on July 2. The al Houthi forces use the base as a headquarters and a prison. The UAE temporarily paused ground combat operations in al Hudaydah to pursue a negotiated settlement but the Saudi-led coalition continues to conduct airstrikes on al Houthi targets outside of al Hudaydah port. [4]

Unidentified gunmen assassinated the commander of al Shaab police station, Colonel Wadah Jahori, and his bodyguard in Aden city, southern Yemen on July 3. A local government official stated that Colonel Jahori participated in anti-terror operations last year.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A roadside landmine exploded near Banadir junction, Hodan district, Mogadishu on July 2. The explosion killed one civilian and injured seven others. No group has claimed the attack, but al Shabaab is likely responsible.[6]

Al Shabaab publicly executed a 93-year-old Somali elder in Gamboole area, Balad district, Middle Shabelle region on July 2. Al Shabaab accused the elder of being a Somali electoral delegate.[7]

Somali Livestock, Range, and Forestry Minister Sheikh Nur Mohamed Hassan stated that Saudi Arabia had agreed to lift its ban on Somali livestock imports on July 2. Saudi Arabia banned Somali livestock imports in September 2016 after a Rift Valley Fever outbreak in Somalia. Somalia exported 80% of its livestock annually to Saudi Arabia prior to the ban.[8]

Al Shabaab’s radio station, Radio Andalus, announced a ban on plastic bags in al Shabaab-controlled areas on July 1. Al Shabaab also announced a ban on logging native trees.[9]

[1] “For the first time: Military media published scenes of operations of the air force in the West Coast,” Al Masirah, July 2, 2018,; “Spokesman of the Air Force: Aviation pathway changes rules of engagement in West Coast battles,” Al Masirah, July 2, 2018,; Christiaan Triebert, Twitter, July 2, 2018,; and “Short-range ballistic missile sent at invaders and hypocrites in the West Coast,” Al Masirah, June 30, 2018,
[2] “In Yemen, 46 detainees released from UAE-controlled prison,” NY Times, July 3, 2018,
[3] “Seven kidnapped civilians were freed in a prisoner exchange with the al Houthi forces,” Al Sahwa Yemen, July 2, 2018,; and “Seven kidnappers, including a journalist from the Houthi prisons, were released in a prisoner exchange deal,” Al Masdar Online, July 2, 2018,; and "After a year and four months.. the al Houthis release the journalist Ibrahim al Jhdabi," Yemen Shabab, July 2,   
[4] “An Arab Coalition raid targeted an al Houthi base in Hudaydah used as a prison,” Al Masdar Online, July 2, 2018,
[5] “Police station commander shot dead in Yemen’s Aden,” Xinhua, July 3, 2018,; “Gunmen assassinated deputy director of al Shaab police department in the city of Aden,” al Masdar Online, July 3, 2018,; and “Breaking: Commander of the al Shaab police station assassinated,” Yemen Now, July 3, 2018,
[6] “1 killed, 7 injured in landmine blast in Somalia’s Mogadishu,” Xinhua, July 2, 2018,; and “Seven injured by road-side bomb in Somalia’s Mogadishu,” Reuters, July 3, 2018,
[7] “Somalia: Al-Shabab executes a 93-year-old man for voting MPs,” Garowe, July 2, 2018,; “Al-Shabaab executes Somali elder in southern Somalia,” Radio Dalsan, July 2, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 2, 2018,
[8] Abdulkadir Khalif, “Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Somalia livestock,” The East African, July 3, 2018,; and “Saudi lifts livestock ban from Somalia,” Mareeg, July 2, 2018,
[9] Amardeep Bassey, “Al-Shabaab bans plastic bags to protect ‘Humans and Animals’,” Huffington Post, July 3, 2018,; and David Brennan, “Al-Shabab bans plastic bags to protect people and livestock,” Newsweek, July 3, 2018,

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