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: Omani air force evacuates three Americans from Sana’a city; Iranian foreign minister supports Geneva peace talks; coalition-trained Yemeni Army forces arrive in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: IED blast wounds government workers in Mogadishu, Banadir region; IED blast wounds soldiers in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle Region; Ethiopia requests ASWJ to join Galmudug State Administration

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Omani air force evacuated three American citizens from Sana’a city on November 19. The al Houthis had detained the Americans on suspicion of spying. Anonymous security officials reported that the three Americans had been held in Sana’a for at least two months, and that two of them worked with the UN. The al Houthis detained two American contractors working at UN facilities in Sana’a on October 20, one of whom died in al Houthi custody on November 9. The identities of the three Americans evacuated on November 19 remain unknown. Oman previously negotiated the release of six foreign detainees, including two Americans, from al Houthi custody in September.[1]
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to discuss the security situation in Yemen. Zarif lauded Ould Cheikh’s efforts to resolve the conflict and called on all sides to participate in UN-led peace talks in Geneva this month. Zarif also criticized Saudi Arabia’s role in the conflict, accusing the Saudi-led coalition of worsening the situation through direct military intervention.[2]
  • Coalition-trained Yemeni Army units arrived in Ma’rib governorate, east of the capital Sana’a, on November 19. The reinforcements included infantrymen and heavy armored vehicles. The frontline in Ma’rib has remained fixed for several months. Control of the central Yemeni governorate is important because it contains critical oil infrastructure.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated on November 18 in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu, Banadir region. The IED was planted under a vehicle and wounded three government officials. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but its target suggests al Shabaab.[4] 
  • An IED targeting Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers detonated on November 19 in Afgoi district, Lower Shabelle region. The IED was planted in a residential building and wounded three soldiers, two of whom are in critical condition.  No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but its target suggests al Shabaab.[5]
  • The government of Ethiopia asked the head of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) to assimilate into the Galmudug State Administration on November 19. ASWJ is a moderate Islamist group that operates in central Somalia and contests the federally sanctioned Galmudug State’s legitimacy. ASWJ has refused peace talk invitations from the Galmudug Administration in the past, but the group’s response to Ethiopia’s request remains unknown.[6]

[1] “3 American captives held in Yemen freed, flown to Oman,” ABC News, November 19, 2015. Available:
[2] “Iran urges all sides to join Yemen talks, slams Saudi,” Daily Star, November 19, 2015. Available:
[3] “Huge reinforcements arrive in Ma’rib,” Barakish, November 19, 2015. Available:
[4] “Bomb under car seat wounds three, including Senior Government official in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, November 18, 2015. Available:
[5] “Somalia: IED blast in Afgoye district injures three,” Shabelle News, November 19, 2015. Available:
[6] “Ethiopia calls on Ahlusunna to give up parallel administration in favor of Galmudug State,” Wacaal Media, November 19, 2015. Available:
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