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: Al Houthi forces claim to strike Dubai International Airport with drone; Saudi-led coalition foils al Houthi attack on Jizan, Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition forces conduct successful offensives in al Hudaydah; al Houthi members clash over drug shipment dispute in Sa’ada, northern Yemen   

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab conducts SVBIED attack in Mogadishu; AMISOM-backed SNA forces launch joint military operation in Hiraan region; SNA forces kill five Shabaab militants in Lower Jubba region; President Farmajo announces proposed trip to Somaliland

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces claimed to attack Dubai International Airport with a Sammad-3 drone on September 30. Emirati officials denied that the attack occurred. Al Houthi media did not provide evidence of the attack. Al Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam confirmed the attack and warned the UAE of more attacks in the future. An al Houthi-allied Yemeni commander, Brigadier General Aziz Rashid, said that targeting the Emirati economy was the main aim behind the drone strike. Al Houthi forces claimed to attack Dubai International Airport with a drone on August 27. Al Houthi forces also claimed to attack Abu Dhabi International Airport with a drone on July 26, which Emirati officials also denied.[1]

Al Houthi forces launched an attack on a group of Saudi warships inside Jizan port on September 30. Al Houthi sources claimed to burn a number of vessels. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki stated that the Royal Saudi Navy Forces intercepted two remote-controlled boats filled with explosives headed toward Jizan port with minimal damage.[2]

Saudi-led coalition forces conducted multiple strikes on September 29 that killed al Houthi leaders in al Hudaydah, western Yemen.  The first strike killed senior leader Mbkhout Saleh Salama, assistant commander of the Central Security forces in Sana’a, and 17 others. A second strike killed leaders Ahmad Saad Ibrahim al Alawi and Ibrahim Mohammed Saeed al Jarmi. The Emirati-backed Southern Giants Brigade and National Resistance Forces also carried out attacks from the area of al Jahah, south of al Hudaydah. The Southern Giants Brigade claimed to arrest al Houthi field commander Muhammad Ali Saleh Ghalib al Suwaidi and kill a number of his companions in Hiss province. The groups reportedly destroyed a number of al Houthi rebel caches on the outskirts of al Hudaydah.[3]

Fighting between rival al Houthi factions erupted between supporters of al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi and supporters of his uncle Mohammed Abdulazem al Houthi in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on September 29. The dispute over a drug shipment killed more than 20 people, according to pro-Saudi news sources. The shipment was supposed to be smuggled into Saudi Arabia. The conflict between Abdul Malik al Houthi and Mohammed Abdulazem al Houthi reportedly began in 2004 due to disagreements over Abdul Malik al Houthi’s relationship with Tehran.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting a European Union armored convoy in Daynile district, Mogadishu, Somalia on October 1. The attack killed three EU troops and injured several civilians. Nearly 200 European Union troops are present in Somalia to build the capacity of the Somali National Army (SNA).[5]

Somali National Army (SNA) forces backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducted a joint military operation in Hiraan region, central Somalia. The mission aims to flush Shabaab militants out of the region. SNA forces claimed to successfully seize and secure multiple areas from al Shabaab. SNA and AMISOM are carrying out large-scale operations targeting the Hiraan region due to the multiple bases al Shabaab holds in the area. Forces are expected to capture Boco locality, outside Beledweyne district, where al Shabaab’s main court is located.[6]

SNA soldiers killed five al Shabaab militants and injured several others in Lower Jubba, Somalia. Al Shabaab injured two SNA soldiers during the skirmish. The SNA claimed to liberate several areas in the region following the skirmish including Bangini, Mana-mufo and Koban. The areas are located in Jamame, a major al Shabaab stronghold in Lower Jubba.[7]

Somali President Farmajo announced a proposal to travel to Somaliland on September 30. The trip proposal marks a historic relationship-building attempt between the Somali Federal Government and Somaliland, which declared its independence in 1991.[8]

[1] “Dubai airport operating as normal after al Houthis claim drone attack,” Al Arabiya, September 30, 2018,; “Dubai airport says operating as normal after al Houthi drone attack report,” Reuters, September 30, 2018,; “al Houthis conduct a drone attack on Dubai International Airport,” Al Masirah, September 30, 2018,;“Video of al Houthis second drone attack on Dubai International Airport and its consequences,” Al Masirah, September 30, 2018,; and “Al Houthis refute UAE denials on conducting a drone attack in Dubai International Airport,” Arabi 21, September 30, 2018,

[2] “Saudi-led coalition foils Houthi attack on Jizan port,” Reuters, September 30, 2018,, and “Qualitative Operation of Naval Force Inside Jizan Port.” Al Masirah, September 30, 2018, and “Joint Forces Command of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: “Interception and Destruction of Two Remote Control Explosive boats in A Terrorist Attempt to Target Port of Jizan By the Terrorist Iranian-Houthi Militia,” SPA, September 30, 2018,

[3] “Houthi bleeding continues… 50 killed in battles in Hudaydah,” Mareb Press, October 01, 2018,,

[4] “Drugs shipment sparks inter-al Houthi dispute in Yemen’s Sa’ada,” Asharq Al Awsat, October 1, 2018,; “Armed clashes between al Houthi members in Sa’ada,” Khabar Agency, September 30, 2018,; and “Inter-al Houthi clashes in Sa’ada,” Sky News Arabia, October 1, 2018,

[5] “Somalia car bomb strikes EU convoy,” Radio Kulmiye, October 1 2018,; Abdi Sheikh, Feisal Omar, “Three die after Somalia car bomb strikes EU convoy: police,” Reuters, October 1 2018,; and “Common Security and Defense Policy: European Union Training Mission - Somalia,” European Union Training Mission, last modified 2017,

[6] “SNA forces with AMISOM conduct a military operation in Hiiran region, Somalia,” Goobjoog, October 1 2018,; and “SNA and AMISOM to launch offensive against Al-Shabaab strongholds in Hiran,” Halbeeg, September 29 2018,

[7] “Somali army kills 5 al-Shabaab militants in southern region,” Hiiraan, October 1 2018,; and “Somali army kills 5 al-Shabab militants in southern region,” Xinhuanet, October 1 2018,

[8] “Somali Government Signals President’s Possible Somaliland trip,” Hiiraan, October 1 2018,

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