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: Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills civilians in al Hudaydah governorate; President Hadi criticizes southern secessionists on anniversary of October 14 revolution; UN envoy to Yemen plans meeting to address economic crisis; UN warns Yemen near tipping point of famine

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government (SFG) supports Saudi Arabia amid international outcry over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance; SFG executes al Shabaab bomber on first anniversary of October 2017 Mogadishu bombing; al Shabaab conducts twin SVEST attacks in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia; AFRICOM conducts first airstrike in Mudug region, central Somalia in 2018; Kenyan president promises Kenya will stay in Somalia until peace and stability restored

Yemen Security Brief

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a bus transporting civilians in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen, on October 13.  The airstrike killed at least 17 people and wounded 20 others, according to the al Houthi Ministry of Health. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande condemned the attack and reiterated that parties to the conflict are obliged to respect the principles of precaution and proportionality under international humanitarian law on October 14. A Saudi-led coalition spokesman vowed that the coalition would investigate the incident. An airstrike killed at least 50 people, including up to 40 children, in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen in August.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi stressed that the outputs from the 2014 National Dialogue Conference are the only way to stabilize Yemen during a speech on October 14. President Hadi acknowledged the 55th anniversary of the October 14 revolution against the British mandate in southern Yemen but condemned southern secessionist sentiments. President Hadi stressed that the current centralization of power by the al Houthi movement in Sana’a will not repeat in the south and claimed that unspecified southern groups are backed by Iran.[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is planning to hold an economic meeting with Hadi government and al Houthi movement representatives in Nairobi, Kenya, according to the London-based newspaper al Arab. Griffiths will also meet with representatives from the Central Bank of Yemen, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank to establish methods to stabilize the exchange rate of the Yemeni rial and pay public sector salaries. The exchange rate dropped to 800 rials to the dollar in late September.[3]

The UN warned that Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years, according to an October 15 BBC report. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande told the BBC that famine could break out in Yemen in the next three months if the war continued and 12 to 13 million civilians may die from starvation.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia amid international backlash against the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 15. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation stated that it “reiterates its steadfast stance in support of the stability and sovereignty of the Arab states.”[5]

The SFG renamed Mogadishu’s K-5 junction the October 14 Junction in a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the deadliest terror attack in Somalia’s history. Al Shabaab likely conducted the attack but never claimed responsibility for it. The SFG unveiled a memorial for the nearly 600 victims of the suicide bombing on October 14. The SFG executed one of the perpetrators of the attack, Hassan Adan Isak, on October 14 as well.[6]

Al Shabaab conducted two suicide vest attacks on a restaurant and hotel in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on October 13. The attacks killed 17 people and wounded more than 30 others. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the blasts. One of the attacks targeted a hotel owned by Mohamed Aden Fargeti, one of the candidates running for Southwest state president in November. Al Shabaab attacked Somali National Army (SNA) and Southwest state security forces in Daynunay area near Baidoa on October 15. SNA forces repulsed the attack and killed eight militants. Al Shabaab claimed to kill nine soldiers in the attack.[7]

United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab militants near Haradhere town, Mudug region, central Somalia on October 12. This is AFRICOM’s first airstrike in Mudug region in 2018. AFRICOM also conducted an airstrike near Araara, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on October 14, killing four militants.[8]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta promised that the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) will not leave Somalia before peace and stability are restored during a speech at a KDF ceremony in Nakuru County, Kenya on October 15. Kenya joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2012 after unilaterally intervening in southern Somalia to dislodge al Shabaab from the Somali-Kenya border region. Kenyan police warned of an impending large-scale al Shabaab operation in Mandera County, northeastern Kenya on October 15. Kenyan police said that al Shabaab militants have been converging near the Kenyan border and that security agencies are on high alert for any attack targeting hard or soft targets.[9]

[1] “New Saudi airstrike hits bus carrying civilians,” Relief Web, October 13, 2018,; “New Saudi airstrike hits bus carrying civilians in Yemen,” Deutsche Welle, October 13, 2018.; and “UN relief official in Yemen condemns horrific attack on a passenger bus,” UN, October 14, 2018,

[2]“President of the Republic: The outputs of the national dialogue are the one way for the future, security, and struggles of the Yemeni people,” President Hadi website, October 13, 2018,

[3] “International efforts to establish an economic truce in Yemen,” al Arab, October 15, 2018,

[4] “Yemen could be worst famine in 100 years,” BBC, October 15, 2018,

[5] “Federal government expresses solidarity with Saudi Arabia,” Garowe, October 15, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 15, 2018,

[6] “Mogadishu bombs: Man executed on Somalia blast anniversary,” BBC, October 14, 2018,; and Jason Burke, “Somalia executes man by firing squad for 2017 Mogadishu market bomb,” The Guardian, October 14, 2018,

[7] Abdi Guled, “At least 16 dead in pair of bombings in Somalia’s Baidoa,” Associated Press, October 13, 2018,; “Death toll from twin blasts in Baidoa rises to 17,” Garowe, October 13, 2018,; “Intelligence chief quits to vie for presidency,” Garowe, October 14, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 15, 2018,; and “Shabaab claims offensive in Lower Shabelle during presence of Somali president,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 15, 2018, English translation available by subscription at

[8] “U.S. conducts airstrike in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” United States Africa Command, October 15, 2018,; “U.S. conducts airstrike in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” United States Africa Command, October 12, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 13, 2018,

[9] “Kenyan leader says troops to stay in Somalia to enhance stability,” Radio Shabelle, October 15, 2018,; “KDF to stay in Somalia, says president Uhuru,” Goobjoog, October 15, 2018,; “Kenyan police warns major al Shabaab attack,” Mareeg, October 15, 2018,; and Cyrus Ombati, “Police alert: al Shabaab planning major attack along Kenya-Somalia border,” The Standard,

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