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: Chairman of the al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee declares unilateral ceasefire in the Red Sea; UN panel reports al Houthi forces continue to use Iranian weapons in 2018; militants attempt to assassinate an Islah party leader in Aden city; U.S. Secretary of State meets with Omani foreign minister

Horn of Africa: UN Security Council adopts new AMISOM resolution; Ethiopia working to resolve Eritrea-Djibouti border crisis; al Shabaab conducts complex attack on SNA base in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle; ISIS claims assassination of financial officer in Mogadishu; al Shabaab attacks two military checkpoints in Lower Shabelle; al Shabaab attacks SNA barracks in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement announced it will pause attacks in the Red Sea on July 31. The al Houthi chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi stated that al Houthi forces will temporarily halt naval operations. Ali al Houthi expressed hope that the Saudi-led coalition would reciprocate in the interest of achieving a political solution to the conflict. The coalition has not responded.[1]

Iran continues to transport ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to al Houthi forces, according to a confidential July 30 report to the UN Security Council obtained by AFP. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen recently inspected al Houthi missile debris found in Saudi Arabia that likely originated from Iran. Iran denied these allegations and claimed al Houthi forces developed the weaponry domestically. The panel found components in al Houthi missile debris that suggest “a Russian link.” The panel is also investigating Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that hit civilian targets.  Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al Mouallimi criticized the UN on July 27 for failing to prevent Iranian arms shipment to al Houthi forces.[2]

Militants attempted to assassinate an Islah party leader in al Mualla district, Aden city, southern Yemen on July 31. Militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Arif Ahmed Ali as he drove through al Mualla. Southern Yemeni security forces arrested Ali in October 2017 on terrorism charges that he was later cleared of. The Islah party is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and plays a significant role in the internationally recognized Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government. Militants have assassinated several Imams and Islah party members in Aden since 2016.[3]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Washington, D.C. on July 30. The two reiterated the importance of a UN-facilitated settlement to the Yemen conflict and the need to prevent an escalation in the war. They discussed the need to protect coinciding U.S. and Gulf State interests in the region. Bin Alawi also met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and national security and treasury officials.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution postponing the reduction of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops on July 30. Approximately 1,000 AMISOM troops were scheduled to leave Somalia at the end of October 2018. The new resolution delays the reduction until the end of February 2019 to allow more time to train Somali security forces. AMISOM will have 20,626 uniformed personnel once the reduction is in effect. Somali forces are scheduled to take over security operations starting in December 2021.[5]

Ethiopia’s envoy to the United Nations stated on July 30 that Ethiopia is working to restore diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti. The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea in 2009 in response to Eritrea’s support for al Shabaab militants in Somalia and its refusal to enter arbitration over its territorial disputes with Djibouti. Eritrea signed a peace declaration with Ethiopia on July 9 and agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties with Somalia on July 28.[6]

Al Shabaab conducted a complex attack targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Afgoi town, Lower Shabelle region on July 30. Al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) and exchanged fire with SNA soldiers. There were casualties on both sides, but the exact number is unknown.[7]

ISIS claimed the assassination of a government tax collector in Bakara market, Mogadishu on July 29.[8]

Al Shabaab militants attacked two military checkpoints in Afgoi city and Lafoole city, Lower Shabelle region on July 30. No casualties were reported.[9]

Al Shabaab militants attacked an SNA barracks in Hodan district, Mogadishu on July 30. No casualties were reported.[10]

[1] “The Supreme Revolutionary Chairman announces an initiative to stop naval military operations,” Saba News, July 31, 2018,; “Yemen’s Houthis propose ceasefire initiative,” Anadolu Agency, July 31, 2018,; and “Yemen’s Houthis ready to halt Red Sea attacks: official,” Reuters, July 31, 2018,
[2] “Saudi Arabia: Security Council Inaction Allowed Iran to Arm Houthis,” Asharq al Aswat, July 2018,; “UN panel finds further evidence of Iran link to Yemen missiles,” AFP via Channel News Asia, July 31, 2018,
[3] “A leader of the Islah party escaped from an explosion that targeted his car in Aden,” al Masdar Online, July 31, 2018,; and “Bombing in Yemen Wounds Prominent Politician,” Bloomberg, July 31, 2018
[4] “Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi,” U.S. Department of State, July 30. 2018.; Joyce Karam, “Omani foreign minister meets Pompeo to discuss Yemen,” Anadolu Agency, July 30, 2018,; and “Bin Alawi meets U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, Security Advisor Bolton,” Times of Oman, July 31, 2018,
[5] “Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2431 (2018), Security Council Extends Mandate of African Union Mission in Somalia, Authorizes Troop Reduction,” United Nations, July 30, 2018,; “UN delays draw down of Somalia peacekeeping force,” Goobjoog, July 31, 2018,; Edith M. Lederer, “UN delays troop reduction in Somalia force,” Washington Post, July 30, 2018,; and “UN delays troop reduction in Somalia force,” Halbeeg, July 31, 2018,
[6] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,“Ethiopia working to resolve Eritrea-Djibouti impasse,” Africa News, July 31, 2018,
[7] David Goldman, “Terrorists Probing Attack in Afgoye Corridor, Somalia. S.I SITREP,” Intelligence Briefs, July 30, 2018,; and “Al-Shabaab attack in Afgoye town,” Goobjoog, July 30, 2018,
[8] “ISIS claims assassination of financial officer,” Telegram, July 29.
[9] “Shabaab claims seizing control over town in Gedo, attacking Ugandan and Somali soldiers in Lower Shabelle and Mogadishu,” SITE, July 30, 2018, available by subscription at
[10]  “Shabaab claims seizing control over town in Gedo, attacking Ugandan and Somali soldiers in Lower Shabelle and Mogadishu,” SITE, July 30, 2018, available by subscription at

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