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: President Trump blames pilot error for August Saudi-led coalition airstrike on school bus in Sa’ada governorate; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces advance on al Hudaydah port city; al Houthi forces permit a phone call between President Hadi and his kidnapped brother; UK backs UN calls to end war in Yemen; al Houthi forces fire Zilzal 1 ballistic missile at Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Former deputy al Shabaab leader receives permission from Southwest state to run in regional election; AFRICOM airstrike kills four al Shabaab militants in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; UN envoy meets with Puntland president to discuss SFG-federal member states dispute; likely al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting SNA troops outside Mogadishu; UN Security Council prepares to lift sanctions on Eritrea

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. President Donald Trump stated on November 4 that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that struck a school bus in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen in August occurred because the pilots lacked knowledge of how to operate the U.S.-supplied weapons. Trump stated that the U.S. will discuss Saudi-led coalition operations with Saudi Arabia. Trump reinforced his previous statement that he will not risk 110 billion U.S. dollars in weapons deals with Saudi Arabia over the incident.[1]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces supported by Saudi-led coalition aircraft continued to advance into al Hudaydah port city, western Yemen on November 4 and 5. Emirati-backed forces advanced past the Kilo 16 area east of al Hudaydah city and captured a number of areas in CorrectionA previous version of the security review stated that Emirati-backed forces seized areas in western al Hudaydah. Emirati-backed forces actually seized areas in eastern al Hudaydah.eastern al Hudaydah city.  Emirati-backed Yemeni forces killed at least 50 al Houthi soldiers in the area on November 4.[2]

Al Houthi forces allowed telephone communications between President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his brother, Nasser Mansour Hadi, on November 4 for the first time since Nasser’s kidnapping in 2015. Al Houthi forces are holding Nasser hostage in Sana’a.[3]

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed support for UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen on November 5. Hunt criticized all parties to the conflict and stated that the UK will play an increasing role in ending the conflict.[4]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire a Zilzal 1 ballistic missile at Saudi military gatherings in Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia on November 5.[5]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

Former deputy al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow received an eligibility certificate from a Southwest state electoral commissioner on November 5 to run in the upcoming the regional elections. Robow announced his candidacy for the Southwest state presidency on October 4. The Somali Federal Government (SFG) stated that Robow is disqualified because he is under international sanctions. Robow is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist according to U.S. law.[6]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Arare, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on November 3. AFRICOM conducted the attack in defense of partner forces operating in the area. The attack killed four al Shabaab militants.[7]

United Nations Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Haysom arrived in Garowe, Puntland on November 3 for talks with Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed regarding the ongoing dispute between the SFG and the federal member states. Haysom expressed concern regarding the political crisis on October 30.[8]

Likely al Shabaab militants planted an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Somali National Army (SNA) forces in the kilometer 14 area between Afgoi and Mogadishu on November 3. The IED killed one civilian. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.[9]

The UN Security Council is preparing to lift sanctions on Eritrea after the United States dropped its insistence on maintaining the sanctions in October. The UK provided a draft resolution to the Security Council that called for the lifting of the arms embargo, all travel bans, asset freezes, and targeted sanctions on Eritrea on November 1. The council is expected to vote on the proposed resolution on November 14.[10]

[1] “Trump says Yemen bus attack was due to bombers not using weapons properly,” The Guardian, November 4, 2018,

[2] “Emirati-backed forces gets close to al Saleh city in al Hudaydah,” Al Bawabh news, November 4, 2018,; “Emirati-backed forces trespass al Saleh city in al Hudaydah,” Balqees, November 5, 2018,; and “Collapse of al Houthi forces in al Hudaydah and Emirati-backed forces advance inside al Hudaydah city,” Mareb Press, November 5, 2018,

[3] “After four years since his kidnapping, al Houthi militias uncover for the first time events on President Hadi’s brother,” Mareb Press, November 5, 2018

[4] “UK backs Un call for Saudi Arabia and Houthis to end Yemen bloodshed,” The Guardian, November 4, 2018,

[5] “The firing of a Zilzal 1 missile at mercenaries gatherings in Najran,” Al Masirah, November 5, 2018,

[6] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ex Al-Shabaab commander passed to run for political office,” Africa News, November 2, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 5, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at American Enterprise Institute, October 5, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 5, 2018,

[7] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” United States Africa Command, November 4, 2018,

[8] “Somalia: UN chief visits Garowe to end latest political tension,” Mareeg, November 3, 2018,; and “Political row threat to peace in Somalia - UN envoy,” Goobjoog, October 30, 2018,

[9] “One dead in IED blast on military convoy near Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, November 3, 2018,

[10] “UN to lift sanctions on Eritrea after US shift,” Agence France Presse, November 3, 2018,


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