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: UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with the Hadi government vice president, al Houthi lead negotiator, and Omani foreign minister; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missiles at southern Saudi Arabia; UN child rights panel calls on Saudi Arabia to stop Yemen airstrikes

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab using UAVs in Kenya and UAV jammers against U.S. drones; UAE continues to violate Somalia arms embargo, according to UN report; former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow meets with Southwest state MPs to discuss his campaign for state president; Ethiopian troops march on prime minister’s office protesting better pay; SNA and AMISOM troops capture villages in Hiraan region, central Somalia; al Shabaab captures SNA base in Gedo region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met separately with lead al Houthi negotiator Mohamed Abdul Salam and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Muscat, Oman on October 11. Griffiths discussed the re-opening of Sana’a International Airport and steps to resolve the current economic crisis with Salam and al Houthi official Abdul Malik al Ajri. Bin Alawi and Griffiths discussed international efforts to achieve a political solution in Yemen. Yemeni President Hadi’s Vice President, Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, and Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir met with Griffiths in Riyadhon October 10. Al Ahmar called on the international community to exert more pressure on the al Houthi movement to participate in future peace consultations. Griffiths plans to hold a new round of consultations next month.[1]

Al Houthi forces claimed to launch a Badr 1 ballistic missile at a Saudi military camp in Asir region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on October 11. The Saudi-led coalition did not confirm the attack. Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki reported that coalition missile defense systems intercepted and destroyed an al Houthi ballistic missile over Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 10. Al Houthi forces have launched 204 ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia since the start of the war, according to Maliki.[2]

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Saudi Arabia to limit civilian casualties in Yemen on October 11. The committee specifically called on Saudi Arabia to end airstrikes on civilians, prosecute officials responsible for child casualties, and lift the coalition’s blockade on Yemen to allow civilians access to food and vital supplies.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab flew a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over a Kenyan border crossing in El-Ram, Mandera County, northeastern Kenya in early October, according to the website Strategic Intelligence.  Strategic Intelligence also detected that al Shabaab has UAV-jamming and disabling capabilities after seven U.S. drones crashed in Awdheegle, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. Strategic Intelligence did not give a date for the U.S. UAV crashes or the al Shabaab UAV flight, both of which remain unconfirmed.[4]

The UAE continues to violate the arms embargo imposed on Somalia, according to a new UN sanctions report seen by Al Jazeera news. The UAE continued construction of a military base in Berbera, Somaliland and transferred weapons to the region without the approval of the Somali Federal Government (SFG) in violation of international agreements forbidding arms shipments to Somalia. The SFG previously called on the United Nations Security Council to act against construction of the UAE base in Somaliland.[5]

Former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow held a second meeting with Southwest regional parliament members about his presidential candidacy in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on October 11. The Somali Federal Government barred Robow from running for office shortly after he declared his candidacy on October 4. Robow is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist according to U.S. law and remains under U.S. and UN sanctions. Robow called for the creation of an electoral commission to address the issue of his campaign on October 11.[6]

Ethiopian soldiers took to the streets in Addis Ababa to protest low pay and new deployments on October 10. Hundreds of soldiers who had deployed to Burayu, Oromia region to manage ethnic violence marched on the prime minister’s office in Addis Ababa. The soldiers reached an agreement after speaking with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who reprimanded the soldiers for breaking protocol. Details of the agreement have not been released.[7]

Somali National Army (SNA) troops backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces captured several villages in Hiraan region, central Somalia on October 11. SNA-AMISOM forces captured Dhobley, Fahale, and Burweyn villages. Local civilians played an active role in supporting the SNA-AMISOM operations.[8]

Al Shabaab militants overran an SNA base in Dif town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on October 11. No casualties were reported.[9]

[1] “Griffiths holds Yemen talks in Riyadh, heads to Muscat to resume peace efforts,” Al Arabiya, October 11, 2018,; “Yemeni Vice President meets UN Special Envoy to Yemen in the presence of Yemeni Prime Minister,” Saba Net, October 10, 2018,; and “Head of national delegation meets UN envoy to Yemen,” Saba Net, October 11 2018,

[2] “Coalition for supporting legitimacy in Yemen: Saudi-led coalition missile defense system intercept and destroy a ballistic missile fired into Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Press Agency, October 11, 2018,; and “Ballistic missile target gatherings of hypocrites in Asir,” Al Masirah, October 11, 2018,

[3] “U.N. child rights panel calls on Saudi Arabia to halt Yemen strikes,” Reuters, October 11 2018,

[4] “Did Al-Shabaab Fly A Drone Over A Secret Kenya Security Facility along the Border Prefecture?” Strategic Intelligence, October 11, 2018,

[5] “U.N. says UAE violating Somalia arms embargo in a report,” Halbeeg, October 11, 2018,; and “UAE violating Somalia arms embargo: Report,” Al Jazeera, October 11 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 11, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review: October 4, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 4, 2018,; and “Profile: Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur),” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 14, 2011,

[7] “Photos: Internet shutdown in Ethiopia as soldiers march to protest low pay,” Africa news, October 10, 2018,; and “Army representatives March to PM’s office for talks sends temportary shock waves across Addis,” The Reporter Ethiopia, October 10, 2018,

[8] “SNA, AMISOM Troops Liberate Severa Villages in Hiiraan Region From al Shabaab,” Strategic Intelligence, October 11, 2018,

[9] “Kenyan Military Forces on High Alert Following an Attack on SNA Base in Diif Town, Gedo region,” Strategic Intelligence, October 11, 2018,

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