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: UN Special Envoy to Yemen arrives in Sana’a; tens of thousands of Yemenis celebrate Mawlid; al Houthi forces claim to fire ballistic missile in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen; President Hadi urges forces to continue military operations in Lahij and Dhaleh governorates

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants kidnap Italian aid worker in Kilifi County, southeastern Kenya; AFRICOM conducts third airstrike in two days in central Somalia; al Shabaab militants attack KDF base in Gedo region, southern Somalia; ONLF rebels begin returning to Somali region, eastern Ethiopia as part of peace deal

Yemen Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sana’a on November 21 to meet with al Houthi leaders as part of his efforts to hold peace talks in Sweden by the end of 2018. The President of International Organizations in the al Houthi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yahya al Seyaghi, welcomed Griffiths at Sana’a International Airport. Griffiths is expected to meet with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi and will also visit al Hudaydah city in western Yemen.[1]

Tens of thousands of Yemeni people took the streets of Sana’a to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, according to al Houthi sources. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi called on the Yemeni people to use the holiday to strengthen their stand against U.S. and Saudi aggression in Yemen. Yemenis also held mass celebrations in al Hudaydah, Ibb, Dhamar, Sa’ada, Taiz and al Jawf governorates, according to al Houthi media.[2]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire a ballistic missile from southern al Hudaydah governorate into residential neighborhoods in al Durayhimi district, southeast of al Hudaydah city on November 21. The missile did not reach the intended target and was destroyed, according to anti-al Houthi sources.[3]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi urged Yemeni government forces supported by Saudi-led coalition aircraft to continue military operations in al Kirsh area, Lahij governorate, southern Yemen and in Damt district, Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on November 20.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Suspected al Shabaab militants abducted an Italian aid worker from a shopping center in Chakama, Kilifi County, southeastern Kenya on November 20. The gunmen fired indiscriminately before seizing Silvia Constanza Romano. The attack injured five people, including three children. The gunmen wore Somali clothes and spoke Somali, according to a witness. Other witnesses claimed that the gunmen numbered 80. No group has claimed responsibility.[5]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab in the vicinity of Quy Cad, Mudug region, central Somalia on November 20. The airstrike killed seven militants and did not injure any civilians, according to AFRICOM. This was AFRICOM’s third airstrike in two days in central Somalia. The airstrikes have killed 44 militants.[6]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) base in Fafadun, Gedo region, southern Somalia on November 19. Al Shabaab militants fired mortars at the camp and caused an unknown number of casualties. KDF soldiers repulsed the attack, which al Shabaab claimed.[7]

Members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) began leaving their bases in Eritrea and returning to Jijiga, Somali region, eastern Ethiopia on November 21 as part of a peace deal reached in October.[8]

[1] “Mohammed al Qadhi, Twitter, November 21, 2018,; and “UN Special Envoy to Yemen arrives to Sana’a,” Saba New, November 22, 2018,

[2] “Millions take the streets to mark Prophet Muhammed’s birth anniversary,” Al Masirah, November 20, 2018,

[3] “Al Houthi militia target residential areas in al Hudaydah with a ballistic missile,” Alyaman Alaraby, November 21, 2018,

[4] “President Hadi calls to continue military operations in al Dhaleh and Lahij governorates,” Almashhad-alyemeni, November 20, 2018,

[5] “Gunmen in Kenya abduct Italian aid worker,” BBC, November 21, 2018,; “Gunmen who abducted Italian near Kenya coast seemed to be of Somali origin, witness says,” Reuters, November 21, 2018,; and Mohamed Ahmed, “Gunmen kidnap Italian volunteer in southeast Kenya,” The East African, November 21, 2018,

[6] AFRICOM, Twitter, November 21, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 20, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 20, 2018,

[7] “Kenyan Army base hit by al Shabaab attack,” Mareeg, November 20, 2018,

[8] ONLF, Twitter, November 21, 2018,; and Addis Standard, Twitter, November 21, 2018,

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