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 forces take control of Aden; Saudi Arabia begins backchannel talks with al Houthis; AQAP claims artillery strikes on Islamic State positions in al Bayda; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Hajjah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab fires mortars at Mogadishu’s international airport; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Kenyan police officers in Garissa County; al Shabaab captures village in Middle Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants kill Deputy Governor of Middle Shabelle

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi forces have taken control of Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, in recent days as part of an effort to end a power struggle between President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a UAE-backed separatist group. Saudi forces have replaced UAE forces at Aden’s airport and military bases in the city. STC-aligned forces seized Aden in August and have clashed with Hadi government-aligned forces in multiple locations in southern Yemen since then. The two parties are close to reaching an agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia that will give the STC cabinet positions in the Hadi government and will place STC-aligned forces under Hadi government command.[1]

Saudi Arabia has begun backchannel talks with the al Houthi movement for the first time in over two years, according to an October 11 Financial Times report. The talks are aimed at achieving a ceasefire, which the UN hopes it can translate into a political settlement to Yemen’s civil war.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed multiple artillery and mortar strikes against the Islamic State in Yemen in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on October 13. The group also claimed to have sniped an Islamic State militant in the Qayfa area of al Bayda.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes targeting al Houthi militants in Harad district in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen on October 15.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants fired mortars at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) headquarters located in Aden Adde International Airport in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on October 13. The attack wounded at least six people.[5]

Al Shabaab detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Kenyan police officers near Degow in Garissa County in eastern Kenya on October 12. The explosion killed 11 officers.[6]

Al Shabaab militants captured El-Gelow village, located approximately 18 miles from Mogadishu in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, on October 15 following the withdrawal of Somali National Army troops from the village. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate a remote-controlled IED in the area targeting the retreating troops.[7]

Suspected al Shabaab militants killed the Deputy Governor of Middle Shabelle region, Mohamed Sugal, and his son in a grenade attack in Middle Shabelle’s capital, Jowhar, on October 13.[8]

[1] “Saudis take control of Yemen’s Aden to end stand-off between allies,” Reuters, October 14, 2019,

[2] England, Andrew and Kerr, Simon, “Riyadh holds talks with Houthis in effort to break Yemen deadlock,” Financial Times, October 11, 2019,

[3] “AQAP PHOTOGRAPHS ARTILLERY AND MORTAR STRIKES ON IS POSITIONS IN BAYDA,” SITE, October 14, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[4] “Houthis killed during airstrikes in Yemen’s Hajjah,” Arab News, October 15, 2019,

[5] “Guterres condemns mortar attack on UN compound in Somalia,” Garowe, October 14, 2019,; “Shabaab Claims Credit for Mortar Strike on Base Housing AU and UN Offices, Bombing in Kenya,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 14, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[6] Wako, Amina, “President Kenyatta mourns 11 fallen GSU officers,” Daily Nation, October 13, 2019,

[7] “Somalia’s Al Shabaab seizes town near capital after army pull out,” Garowe, October 15, 2019,

[8] Dhaysane, Mohammed, “Grenade attack kills deputy governor, son in Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, October 13, 2019,

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