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: Suspected U.S. drone strike kills six AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with al Houthi leaders in Sana’a; U.S. Secretary of Defense announces that UN-led peace talks will take place in early December; Iran hosts conference on Yemen in Tehran; Denmark halts arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Sufi sheikh’s compound in Mudug region, central Somalia; Southwest state election commission approves former al Shabaab deputy leader’s candidacy; AFRICOM conducts two airstrikes in Mudug region, central Somalia; bodyguard kills senior al Shabaab commander in Bakool region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab militants injure deputy chairman of Puntland supreme court in Boosaaso, Puntland; al Shabaab militants behead elder in Gedo region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

A suspected U.S. drone killed six al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on November 25. Two of the militants were reportedly AQAP leaders in al Bayda.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi on November 22 in Sana’a. Griffiths and al Houthi discussed the conditions for a ceasefire and overseas medical treatment for al Houthi troops. Al Houthi asked Griffiths for an end to economic restrictions on al Houthi-controlled areas. Griffiths also visited al Hudaydah city, western Yemen on November 23 to urge calm ahead of UN-led peace consultations in Sweden, which will occur by the end of 2018.[2]

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated on November 21 that UN-led peace talks will take place in Sweden in early December. Mattis reiterated that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, the al Houthi movement, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will participate in talks.[3] 

Iran hosted an “International Conference to Support the Oppressed People of Yemen” in Tehran on November 22. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Deputy IRGC Commander Brigadier Hossein Salami, Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, and head of the Basij Gholam Hossein Gheib Parvar all blamed the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for the conflict.[4]

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced on November 22 that Denmark will suspend exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia due to concerns over the situation in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants killed Sufi Sheikh Abdiweli Ali Emi Yare, his wife, and at least 14 other people in a complex attack in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on November 25. Gunmen stormed Yare’s religious compound after a militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED). Galmudug security forces killed the three militants.Al Shabaab claimed the attack.[6] 

The Southwest state election commission postponed the state’s presidential election until December 5. The commission justified the delay on November 25 by claiming that it needed additional time to amend eligibility criteria for candidates. The commission formally approved the former deputy leader of al Shabaab, Mukhtar Robow, to run for the state presidency on November 25. Five candidates withdrew from the race and announced their support for Robow on November 25.[7]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted two airstrikes against al Shabaab near Harardhere town, Mudug region, central Somalia on November 22. The airstrikes killed six militants. AFRICOM conducted five airstrikes in north-central Somalia last week, killing 50 militants.[8] 

A bodyguard of senior al Shabaab commander Moallim Jinow in Bakool region, southern Somalia on November 25, according to unconfirmed reports. The bodyguard killed Jinow for initiating conflict with the Jubba clan. Jinow became a senior al Shabaab military commander in southwestern Somalia after Mukhtar Robow defected from al Shabaab.[9]

Al Shabaab militants injured Saeed Abdi Mu’min, the Deputy Chairman of Puntland’s Supreme Court, in Boosaaso, Puntland on November 22.[10]

Al Shabaab militants beheaded a prominent elder and vocal opponent of al Shabaab at his home in Beled Hawo, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on November 22. The militants also abducted two of the elder’s sons.[11]

[1] “Six suspected al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen drone strike,” Reuters, November 25, 2018,

[2] “UN envoy arrives in al Hudaydah to plan fresh Yemen peace talks,” Al Jazeera, November 23, 2018,; “Statement by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen, during his visit to Hudaydah,” OSESGY, November 23, 2018,; and “ UN Yemen envoy meets Houthi leader on new peace talks,” Middle East Monitor, November 23, 2018,

[3]Nicole Gaouette, “Yemen peace talks set for December, Mattis says,” CNN, November 21, 2018,

[4] “Iran hosts international conference on Yemen amid Saudi war,” Press TV, November 22, 2018,; and “The Start of International Conference to Support the Oppressed People of Yemen,” Irib News, November 22, 2018,

[5] “Denmark suspends arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Yemen war, Khashoggi murder,” The Defense Post, November 22, 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 25, 2018,; “Somalia: Sufi scholar, followers killed in al Shabaab attack,” Al Jazeera, November 26, 2018,; and “Shabaab claims suicide raid killing Sufi scholar in Mudug, inflicting at least 26 casualties among Somali soldiers in 4 other attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 26, 2018, English translation available by subscription at

[7] “Somalia: Southwest again delays election, casting doubt on credibility,” Garowe, November 24, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 25, 2018,  

[8] “U.S. military says strikes killed six militants in Somalia,” Reuters, November 22, 2018,; and Bill Roggio, “AFRICOM launches 2 more strikes against Shabaab in central Somalia,” Long War Journal, November 22, 2018,

[9] “Al Shabaab leader killed in Bay and Bakool regions killed in Yabal,” Universal TV, November 25, 2018,

[10] “Shabaab Claims Assassination Attempt on Puntland Judicial Official, Two More Attacks on Electoral Committee Members,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 23, 2018, English translation available by subscription at

[11] “Somalia: Al-Shabab extremists behead Elder near Kenya’s border,” Garowe, November 22, 2018,

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