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: U.S. Navy confirms interception of smuggled weapons on the Arabian Sea; UNHRC abandons plan for independent international inquiry in Yemen; popular resistance and Yemeni army mobilize in Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detains five of its members under suspicion of being pro-ISIS in Jamame, Lower Jubba region; SNA forces repulse al Shabaab attack in Ali Mire, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet stated that a multinational Combined Maritime Forces vessel intercepted a boat smuggling weapons in the Arabian Sea on September 25. This report partially corroborates with the Saudi-led coalition’s account, which claimed that the coalition intercepted an Iranian vessel carrying illicit weapons southeast of the Omani port of Salalah on September 26. The intercepted vessel was licensed for fishing by an Iranian citizen and carried an Iranian crew, though it was not formally registered to any country. The crew claimed that the vessel was traveling to Somalia, while the Saudi-led coalition alleged that the weapons were intended for the al Houthis. The Iranian state news agency called the coalition’s accusations a “baseless claim.”[1]
  • The United Nations Human Rights Council abandoned a Dutch-drafted resolution calling for an independent international inquiry into human rights abuses in the Yemen conflict. The Dutch plan had gained momentum following international outcry against the civilian casualties caused by Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and other members of the Arab coalition pressured Western governments to adopt a consensus resolution that supports a national commission of inquiry led by Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.[2]
  • A spokesman for the Yemeni government announced that popular resistance and Yemeni forces recaptured the Bab al Mandeb strait from al Houthi forces. Warships from the Saudi-led coalition supported ground troops as they secured the strait, which is a critical control point for shipping in the region.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab detained five of its foreign members over what appears to be suspicion of the individuals being pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). The arrests were conducted on September 29, Jamame, located in the Lower Jubba region. It is unclear what happened to the detained individuals, although there were reports of gunfire during the arrest. Sources close to al Shabaab recently stated that the group circulated an internal memo saying to stem pro-ISIS sentiment among members, which is likely related to the arrests.[4]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces successfully repulsed an attack by al Shabaab militants on September 30. The attack, took place in Ali Mire, located in the Lower Shabelle region, and led to a clash between militant and SNA forces, resulting in an unspecified number of casualties before the militants were warded off.[5] 
[1] Adan Schreck, “Weapons believed to be from Iran seized in Arabian Sea,” AP, September 30, 2015. Available:
[2] Nick Cumming-Bruce, “Saudi Objections Halt U.N. Inquiry of Yemen War,” NYT, September 30, 2015. Available:
[3] Noah Browning, “Yemeni govt., Saudi-led forces retake strategic Red Sea strait: spokesman,” Reuters, October 1, 2015. Available:
[4] Harun Maruf, “Al-Qaeda or Islamic State? Issue simmers within Al-Shabaab,” Voice of America, September 30, 2015. Available:
[5] “Government forces repulse Al Shabaab after militants attacked their base in Ali Mire near Baraawe,” Wacaal Media, October 1, 2015. Available:


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