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: Reported missiles target U.S. warship in the Red Sea for the third time;  U.S., UK, and UN call for immediate ceasefire in Yemen; Omani officials facilitate release of two U.S. citizens held in Yemen; Hadi government and allied forces advance in Sa’ada governorate; security forces and civilians in southern Yemen demand unpaid salaries from Hadi government

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants preach in Muri town, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab and AMISOM forces exchange mortar fire near Qoryooley town in Lower Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab militants murder two people in Mogadishu; Galmudug State elects a former warlord in Somalia’s first Upper House elections

Yemen Security Brief

  • The USS Mason, an American guided missile destroyer in the Red Sea, deployed countermeasures in response to missiles reportedly launched from al Houthi-Saleh territory on October 15. A U.S. official announced that the USS Mason’s radar detection system may have malfunctioned, causing countermeasures to deploy.  Other sources reported that al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted the attack from the shore and multiple spotter boats. This attack, if confirmed, is the third targeting of the USS Mason in a one-week period. Suspected al Houthi-Saleh militants fired on the USS Mason on October 9 and 12. The U.S. Navy launched cruise missiles targeting al Houthi-Saleh-controlled radar stations along Yemen’s Red Sea on October 13. A U.S. senior administration official said that the U.S. has “no doubt” that the al Houthis launched the missiles at the U.S. ships, though the involvement of forces aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains in doubt.[1]
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed issued a joint statement calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Yemen on October 16. The joint statement is a response to increasing civilian casualties. Secretary Kerry called for the implementation of a ceasefire as soon as October 17 or 18. Secretary Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Yemen on October 16. Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam responded by urging the UN Security Council to help end the Saudi-led coalition blockade and airstrike campaign. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir announced on October 17 that the Kingdom is prepared to agree to a ceasefire in Yemen.[2]
  • Omani officials facilitated the release of two American citizens held captive by al Houthi-Saleh militants in Sana’a on October 15. The U.S. Department of State thanked the Omani government and stated that the Americans’ names will not be released at this time. Al Houthi-Saleh militants abducted Peter Willems, an American teacher working in Sana’a city, on September 20. Oman’s state news agency released a video of the two hostages arriving in Oman. One of the men featured appears to be Peter Willems.[3]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and allied forces, including the southern Yemeni al Mihdhar Brigade, advanced in northern Sa’ada governorate on October 16. A Hadi government field commander reported that his forces are on the border of Kitaf district, east of Sa’ada’s capital city, where the al Houthi-Saleh 101 Mechanized Brigade is based. Landmines and improvised explosive devices (IED) slowed Hadi government and allied forces’ offensive into Kitaf district.  Hadi government and allied forces seized territory in northern Sa’ada for the first time since January 2016 on October 12. Sa’ada is a historical stronghold for the al Houthi movement.[4] 
  • Security forces and civilians in southern Yemen demanded unpaid salaries from the Hadi government on October 17. Security recruits protested three months of unpaid salaries outside of al Anad Air Base in Lahij governorate on October 17. Aden Refinery Company employees threatened to halt operations at the oil refinery to protest unpaid salaries on October 17. Employees demanded the resumption of petroleum product sales to generate revenue for employee salaries. Retired government employees threatened to escalate protests for months of unpaid pensions in an appeal to the Hadi government in Aden on October 17.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants temporarily captured Muri town in Lower Shabelle region on October 16. The militants raised a black flag over the town’s administrative headquarters and claim to have killed multiple SNA soldiers. The militants led nearby civilians in prayer and destroyed the homes of SNA officers before retreating. SNA forces regained control of the town on October 17.[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants fired mortars targeting SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Qoryooley city in Lower Shabelle region on October 14. The mortars killed at least two civilians, including a nine-year-old girl. AMISOM forces responded with mortar strikes targeting al Shabaab positions outside of Qoryooley on October 16. The AMISOM mortars may also have wounded nearby civilians.[7]
  • Suspected al Shabaab gunmen killed a woman in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu on October 17. Militants also killed Abdullahi Ga’mey outside a cafe in Yaqshid district on October 14. The assassins fled both scenes before security personnel arrived.[8]
  • Galmudug state elected the first senators in Somalia's history to the nation’s Upper House on October 16. The state elected eight senators, including two women. The elected senators include Abdi Qebydiid, a former warlord and top official during Mohamed Farah Aidid’s dictatorial regime in the 1990s. UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) head Michael Keating objected to Qebydiid’s candidacy before the race.[9]
[1] “U.S. warship targeted in failed missile attack from Yemen: official,” October 15, 2016,; “Senior Administration Officials on Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, October 14, 2016,; and Barbara Starr, “USS Mason fires missiles in Red Sea after apparent attack,” CNN, October 15, 2016,
[2] “U.S., Britain call for immediate ceasefire in Yemen,” Reuters, October 15, 2016,; “President of the Supreme Political Council of the Security Council calling for the United Nations to stop the aggression on Yemen,” Saba News, October 15, 2016,; and “Saudi Arabia says prepared for ceasefire in Yemen,” October 17, 2016,
[3] “Two Americans held in Yemen released and flown to Oman,” October 15, 2016,; and General Authority for Radio and Television, YouTube, October 15, 2016,
[4] “Yemeni army besieges (101) Mechanized Brigade in Sa’ada,” Aden Tomorrow, October 17, 2016,; and “South resistance stormed the caves where the rebels are holed up in Sa’ada,” Aden Tomorrow, October 17, 2016,
[5] “Recruits are demonstrating in front of Anad camp in demand of their salaries,” Aden Tomorrow, October 17, 2016,; “Pensioners appeal Hadi president in Aden again,” October 17, 2016,; and “Oil refineries protesters in Aden demand boycott on oil company and distribution of salaries,” Aden Tomorrow, October 17, 2016,
[6] “Pro-govt army recapture town after Shabab retreat,” Shabelle News, October 17, 2016,; “Al shabaab seizes town from Somali military forces,” Shabelle News, October 16, 2016,; and “Al-Shabaab takes control of strategic village in southern Somalia,” Goobjoog News, October 17, 2016,
[7] “AMISOM and Al shabaab swap mortars in Qoryoley,” Shabelle News, October 16, 2016,; and “Two killed Al-Shabaab motor attack on Qoryooley,” Goobjoog News, October 16, 2016,
[8] “Somalia: Gunmen murder woman in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, October 17, 2016,; and “Gunmen kill a civilian in Mogadishu, killers escaped,” Shabelle News, October 14, 2016,
[9] “Somalia gets first Senators as Galmudug concludes Upper House polls,” Goobjoog News, October 16, 2016,; and “UN confirms it objected names of former warlords in Senate race,” Goobjoog News, October 16, 2016,
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