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 report says Arab coalition obstructed humanitarian aid; AQAP militants seize government complex in Zinjibar, Abyan; al Houthi leader calls for followers to fight coalition; Saudi army foils al Houthi attack near Saudi-Yemeni border; IED kills al Houthi leader in Shabwah

Horn of Africa: SNA forces kill four al Shabaab members in Gurban area, Bay region; Boko Haram releases video requesting al Shabaab to pledge allegiance to ISIS; Galmudug forces launch anti-al Shabaab operations in Galgudud and Mudug regions

Yemen Security Brief

  • An October 13 U.S. Navy report stated that the Saudi-led Arab coalition has intentionally delayed humanitarian aid deliveries to Yemen. Coalition warships reportedly deterred commercial ships from docking in conflict areas. A coalition spokesman denied obstructing aid delivery and stated that all ships must complete a clearance process before passing through the blockade. Al Hudaydah port, located in an al Houthi-controlled region on the Red Sea, received its first supply shipment in three weeks on October 13.[1] 
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants seized a government complex in Zinjibar, a port city in the southern Abyan governorate, on October 14. AQAP militants took control of Zinjibar in 2011 and held the city until Yemeni military forces recaptured it mid 2012. AQAP currently controls al Mukalla, a port city in the eastern Hadramawt governorate.[2]
  • The leader of the al Houthi movement, Abdul Malik al Houthi, called for all of the movement’s followers to join the battle against the Saudi-led coalition. He did not mention the peace plan that al Houthi representatives submitted to the UN on October 6.[3]
  • The Saudi army claimed to repel an al Houthi attack on Saudi territory on October 14. Pro-al Houthi militias reportedly attempted to cross the Saudi-Yemeni border near al Khoba, Jazan province. Al Houthi forces have attempted to penetrate Saudi territory multiple times in recent weeks, and al Houthi Revolutionary Council leader Mohammed Ali al Houthi spoke about the group’s planned attack on Saudi Arabia on October 3.[4]
  • An improvised explosive device (IED) killed an al Houthi leader in Shabwah governorate, central Yemen on October 14. No group has claimed responsibility at this time. Anti-al Houthi parties in Shabwah include tribal fighters, AQA militants, and Islamic State in the Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Shabwah militants.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces attacked al Shabaab members in Gurban Village, located within Somalia’s Bay region. The operation occurred on October 14, when SNA forces moved to clear the militants from the village, resulting in a clash in which four al Shabaab members were killed. The four killed are believed to have been financers for the militant organization.[6]
  • The Nigerian-based Boko Haram, an ISIS affiliate, released a video directed towards al Shabaab on October 14. The video depicts members of Boko Haram requesting al Shabaab to pledge allegiance to ISIS. This video is one of numerous separate videos released in the past weeks by ISIS cells and affiliates calling for al Shabaab to change its allegiance from al Qaeda to ISIS.[7]
  • A Galmudug security official stated on October 14 that security forces in the region would begin operations to clear al Shabaab’s strongholds within the territory of the newly formed state, which is comprised of the central Galgudud and Mudug regions. This statement comes as Galmudug State’s president announced plans to have al Shabaab completely removed from the area by the end of 2015. Given that the Galmudug State is already engaged in an armed conflict with a local anti-al Shabaab militia known as Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ), the desire to rapidly eradicate al Shabaab’s presence in the area is likely in part meant to deny ASWJ the opportunity to make meaningful territorial gains in the region.[8] 
[1] “Arab coalition slowing aid efforts in Yemen: U.S. Navy report,” Reuters, October 14, 2015. Available:
“Yemeni port says first ship in weeks arrives, Saudi denies hampering by sea,” Reuters, October 13, 2015. Available:
[2] “Al Qaeda militants control government complex in Zinjibar,” Barakish, October 14, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[3] “Houthi leader urges all followers to join fight against Arab coalition,” Reuters, October 13, 2015. Available:
[4] “The Saudi army says that it foiled al Houthi attacks near al Khoba, Jazan,” Al Masdar, October 14, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[5] “Al Houthi leader in Harib and Bihan, Shabwa killed in IED explosion,” Al Masdar, October 14, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[6] “Somali troops capture Al shabaab base near Diinsoor town, kill 4 militants,” Shabelle News, October 14, 2015. Available:
[7], Twitter, October 14, 2015. Available:
“Come join the Caliphate. ISIS urges al Shabaab,” Al Shahid Network, October 5, 2015. Available: 
[8] “Somalia: Galmudug Forces Head to Al Shabaab Strongholds in Mudug Region, Says Officer,” Shabelle News, October 14, 2015. Available:
“Galmudug leader vows to push al Shabaab out of region before the end of 2015,” Goobjoog News, October 14, 2015. Available:
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