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: Trump administration considers terrorist designation for al Houthi movement; AQAP claims to attack ISIS Wilayat al Bayda in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; UN plans to resume peace consultations by the end of 2018; 7,000 Tihama Resistance forces deployed to al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen; Doctors Without Borders closes projects in al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates multiple SVBIEDs in Mogadishu; Ethiopian police discover mass grave in Somali region, eastern Ethiopia; Turkey pledges to help Somalia develop navy and coast guard; Ethiopia announces plan to build naval base

Yemen Security Brief

The Trump administration is considering designating al Houthi movement as a terrorist organization, according to U.S. government sources. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called for a ceasefire in Yemen within 30 days on October 30.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to attack the ISIS Wilayat al Bayda positions in Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on November 8. Twelve ISIS fighters and two AQAP fighters were killed, according to AQAP. AQAP claimed that they were avenging ISIS rocket attacks on Lower Dhi Kalib village, Rada’a district, northwestern al Bayda governorate. ISIS claimed to repel an attack by AQAP in Qayfa area on November 8.[2]

UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq announced on November 8 that the UN is planning to hold peace consultations for Yemen by the end of 2018 instead of by the end of November. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths reiterated this decision in an interview on November 8 and stated that the next round of consultations will discuss confidence-building measures and a framework for a political solution. The UK is currently working with the U.S. on a draft UN resolution to end the conflict.[3]

7,000 Tihama Resistance forces were deployed to al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on November 9. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed a Hezbollah commander and landmine expert, Salam Mohammed, in al Hudaydah city on November 08, according to Saudi media. Salam was the personal guard of Mohammad al Bukhaiti, a member of the al Houthi’s political council.[4]

Doctors Without Borders closed all medical and humanitarian projects in al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on November 7 in response to repeated threats of attacks on staff and medical facilities. Unknown actors attacked the group’s staff house in al Dhaleh twice in October. Suspected AQAP militants also temporarily detained NGO workers in al Dhaleh on September 17.[5]


Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated three suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) in K-4 Junction, Mogadishu on November 9. The explosions targeted two hotels and the headquarters of the Central Investigations Department of the Somali Police Force. Al Shabaab militants dressed as security forces attempted to enter one of the hotels after the explosion, but security forces killed the militants. The attacks killed at least 17 people. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks.[6]

Police discovered a mass grave of 200 people along the border between Somali and Oromia regions, eastern Ethiopia on November 8. Police discovered the graves while investigating the former Somali region president, Mohamed Omar “Abdi Iley.” The Ethiopian government accused Abdi Iley and his Liyu police force of human rights violations and arrested Iley in August 2018. Ethiopian authorities suspect that the bodies belong to victims of ethnic clashes that involved the Liyu.[7]

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated that Turkey will help Somalia rebuild its navy and coast guard during a two-day visit in Mogadishu on November 8. Turkey will train and equip the forces.[8]

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces General Berhanu Jula announced that Ethiopia is planning to build a naval base “adjacent to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean” on November 7. Ethiopia is currently discussing proposals for bases with neighboring countries, according to Jula. Ethiopia has not had access to the sea since Eritrea seceded in 1991.[9]


[1] “Trump administration considers naming Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist group,” The Washington Post, November 8, 2018,  

[2] Elisabeth Kendell, Twitter, November 8, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 8, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 8, 2018,

[3] “Martin Griffiths to Al Hurra TV: We are working to hold a new round of consultations before the end of the year,” OSESGY, November 8, 2018,; and “UN aims for Yemen talks by year-end, not end of month,” Reuters, November 8, 2018,

[4] “Secrets of the week: Hezbollah commander killed in al Hudaydah offensive,” Asrar7days, November 8, 2018,; and “Heavy fighting in al Hudaydah and the Emirati-backed forces reinforces its troops with seven thousand additional fighters,” 7adramout, November 9, 2018,

[5] “Projects in al Dhaleh close due to insecurity and threats,” Medecins Sans Frontieres, November 7, 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 9, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, November 9, 2018,; and Chris Baynes, “Mogadishu attacks: At least 17 people killed after three car bombs explode outside hotel in Somali capital,” Independent, November 9, 2018,

[7] “Ethiopia: Police unearth mass grave of 200 people,” Deutsche Welle, November 8, 2018,

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

[9] Addis Standard, Twitter, November 8, 2018,; and EPRDF, Facebook, November 7, 2018,

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