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 al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee announces cessation of rocket and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia and UAE; UN Special Envoy to Yemen briefs UN Security Council; Hadi government announces it will participate in UN-led peace talks in Sweden; UK Foreign Secretary discusses Yemen conflict with Iranian officials; Emirati-backed forces clash with al Houthi forces in Taiz governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IEDs in Mogadishu and Baidoa, southern Somalia; airstrike hits al Shabaab radio station in Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants clash with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a in Galgudud region, central Somalia; Puntland President releases al Shabaab official sentenced to death; Southwest state appoints new electoral commission members

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi Chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi announced that the al Houthi movement has ordered the cessation of rocket and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia and the UAE at the request of UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths on November 19. The al Houthi Ministry of Defense and Martin Griffiths welcomed Mohammed Ali al Houthi’s announcement.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council  he has received “firm assurances” that both Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement delegation will attend UN-led peace negotiations by the end of 2018. Griffiths announced on November 16 that he will return to Sana’a this week to meet with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi. Griffiths stated that he will travel with the al Houthi delegation to and from Sana’a if necessary to ensure their attendance. Griffiths also stated that it is “vital” to ensure buy-in from southern secessionist groups for the peace process to succeed, but suggested that the southern issue will be dealt with in the transitional period rather than at peace talks themselves.[2]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government announced that it will participate in the UN-led peace talks in Stockholm, Sweden by the end of 2018 on November 19. The Hadi government reiterated its support to Martin Griffiths’ efforts.[3]

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is visiting Iran on November 19 to discuss the nuclear deal, the cases of detained British-Iranian nationals, and Iran’s role in Syria and Yemen. Hunt will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other senior officials to address the UK’s concerns that Iran is supplying ballistic missiles and weapons to the al Houthi movement. Hunt will confirm that Iran will support UN-led efforts for peace talks.[4]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces clashed with al Houthi fighters in western Taiz governorate, southern Yemen on November 19 during the second day of an operation to cut off al Houthi supply lines .[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Weydow village, outside Mogadishu, on November 18. The attack killed at least one government soldier and injured at least one civilian. Al Shabaab militants detonated two IEDs targeting African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoys near Baidoa town, Bay region, southern Somalia on November 19. The attack killed multiple AMISOM soldiers.[6]

Unidentified aircraft bombed al Shabaab’s Andalus radio station in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia. The date of the strike is unknown. The United States denied conducting the strike.[7]

Al Shabaab militants clashed with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters in Galgudud region, central Somalia on November 19. Galmudug state fighters are mobilizing troops in Guriel and Dhusamareb to combat al Shabaab.[8]

Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas released a senior al Shabaab leader, Abdirisak Hussein Tahlil, from prison on November 17. A Puntland court sentenced Tahlil to death on November 14 for his involvement in a terrorist attack in Galkayo. The court released Tahlil after Mudug regional officials expressed concern over possible inter-clan clashes in response to his sentencing. Tahlil has been al Shabaab’s head of Finance and Logistics in Mudug since 2013.[9]

Candidates for the Southwest state presidential election released a statement condemning the Somali Federal Government’s (SFG) interference in the election on November 16. Southwest state postponed the election from November 17 to November 28 earlier this month after multiple election commission members resigned. The candidates called for a further postponement of the election and called on the Southwest government to make new appointments to the election commission instead of creating a new commission. The Southwest state parliament unanimously appointed new members to the electoral commission on November 17.[10]

[1] “Yemen rebels say they will halt attacks amid peace efforts,” Time, November 19, 2018,; “Al Houthi ministry of defense welcomes Mohammed Ali al Houthi’s halt of rocket and drone attacks on Saudi-led coalition forces,” Al Masirah, November 19, 2018,; and OSE Yemen, Twitter, November 19, 2018,

[2] “Security Council Briefing of the Special Envoy to Yemen, 16 November Text, Text as Delivered,” Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, November 17, 2018,

[3]“Hadi government announce that it will participate in UN-led peace talks in Sweden,” Saba Net, November 19, 2018,

[4] Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Right Honorable Jeremy Hunt MP, “Foreign Secretary visits Iran to raise nuclear deal, regional conflicts and consular cases,” Gov.UK, November 19, 2018,

[5] “Yemeni army advance west of Taiz in operation to cut off Houthi militia supply routes,” Arab News, November 19, 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 18, 2018,; and “Deadly explosions hit Ethiopian troops in Somalia,” Mareeg, November 19, 2018,

[7] “Somalia: Airstrike destroys Al-Shabaab linked radio station,” Radio Kulmiye, November 19, 2018,; and “Somalia: US military denies to strike Radio station runs by Al Shabaab,” Mareeg, November 19, 2018,

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 19, 2018,

[9] “Somalia: Puntland President frees terrorist awaiting execution,” Garowe, November 19, 2018,

[10] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 16, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 6, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 6, 2018,; and “Somalia: South West Approves New Polls Commission,” November 18, 2018,

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