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: Al Houthi forces release French hostage; Iranian and Russian officials meet separately with Omani foreign affairs minister in Muscat, Oman; Saudi Arabia sends relief aid to al Mahrah governorate following tropical cyclone Luban

Horn of Africa: Russia and Egypt sign strategic cooperation treaty; Ethiopian and Eritrean foreign ministers meet in Mogadishu; Ethiopian government to free over 1,000 youths detained during ethnic clashes; al Shabaab kills elder in Mogadishu; SNA conducts operation against al Shabaab along Shabelle River, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement released French hostage Alain Goma on October 16. French President Emmanuel Macron thanked the Omani and Saudi authorities for their assistance in securing Goma’s release. Goma was held in prison in Sana’a city for over four months after al Houthi forces captured him at al Hudaydah port on June 3. Goma docked in al Hudaydah after running out of clean drinking water. A French Army plane transported Goma from Sana’a to Oman on October 16.[1]

Iranian and Russian officials met separately with Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi in Muscat, Oman, on October 16. Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Vershinin, and other representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry discussed the Syria and Yemen conflicts with Alawi. Vershinin also met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 15. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi for bilateral talks, during which they discussed the Yemen conflict. Iranian Foreign Ministry senior advisor Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Alawi discussed the Yemen peace process in Muscat on October 16. Ansari is scheduled to meet with unspecified Yemeni officials while he is in Oman.[2]

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief center delivered humanitarian aid to al Ghaydah airport in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen, on October 17 following tropical cyclone Luban. Al Mahrah Governor Rageh Bakrit thanked the Saudi-led Coalition for the aid and also thanked Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi for evacuating citizens trapped by flash floods. Tropical cyclone Luban killed two people and injured at least 33 people in al Mahrah on October 15 and 16.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Russia and Egypt signed a strategic cooperation treaty to bolster trade and defense ties between the two countries in Sochi, Russia on October 17. The treaty includes expanding arms trade and military ties between the two countries. Egypt has signed billions of dollars worth of arms treaties with Russia since President Sisi took office in 2014. Sisi also urged Russia to resume direct flights to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts during his three-day visit to Russia. Russia suspended flights to Egypt after ISIS militants planted a bomb aboard a Russian commercial airliner leaving Sinai in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.[4]

The Ethiopian and Eritrea foreign ministers arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia for talks on regional cooperation hosted by Somali Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Isse Awad on October 17. The talks will conclude with a meeting between the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Somali leaders on an undisclosed date. Ethiopian airlines also announced that it will resume flights to Mogadishu on November 2 for the first time in more than four decades. Ethiopian Airlines suspended flights to Somalia following an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries in 1977.[5]

The Ethiopian government announced on October 17 that it will release over 1,000 youths who were arrested during protests in Addis Ababa in September. Local police confirmed that they arrested 1,204 youths after ethnic unrest broke out in the capital and surrounding areas. Eighty three of the 1,204 detainees will go to court while the remaining prisoners will be freed.[6]

Al Shabaab killed an elder for his involvement in Somali parliamentary elections in Wadajir district, Mogadishu on October 17. The elder participated in the election of parliament members from Adado city, Galmudug state, Somalia in late 2016.[7]

The Somali National Army (SNA) killed multiple al Shabaab militants along the Shabelle River in Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on October 16.  SNA forces destroyed boats and rafts that al Shabaab used to cross the river in order to collect zakat and carry out attacks in the area.[8] 

[1] “France Thanks Saudi Arabia, Oman for Helping Release Frenchman Held by Houthis,” Asharq al Awsat, October 17, 2018,; and “Release of Alain Goma, prisoner in Yemen for more than four months,” LeMonde, October 16, 2018,

[2] “About the consultations of the Russian interdepartmental delegation in the Sultanate of Oman,” Russian MFA, October 17, 2018,; “Putin, Al Sissi meet to boost bilateral trade, flights,” Gulf News, October 17, 2018; and “Iran, Oman discuss ways to end Saudi War on Yemen, “ Fars News, October 17, 2018

[3] “Saudi relief plane reaches al Ghaida airport in Yemen,” Al Arabiya, October 17, 2018,.

[4] Vladimir Isachenkov, “Russian and Egyptian presidents sign partnership treaty,” Associated Press, October 17, 2018,; and Vladimir Isachenkov, “Egyptian president urges Russia to resume flights to resorts,” Associated Press, October 16, 2018,

[5] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights to Mogadishu next month,” Reuters, October 16, ,20187,; and “Eritrea, Ethiopia foreign ministers in Somalia for high-level talks, Aafrica Nnews, October 17, 2018,

[6] “Ethiopia to free over 1000 youth detained over Sept, violence,” africa news, October 17, 2018,; and Addis Standard, Tweet, October 17, 2018,

[7] “Al-Shabaab claims killing of a former electoral delegate in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, October 17, 2018,

[8] “Somali National Army Kills Several Al Shabaab Destroys Boats And Rafts In Middle Shabelle,” Strategic Intelligence, October 17, 2018,; and “SNA kills several Al-Shabaab fighters, destroys boats in Southern Somalia,” Halbeeg, October 17, 2018,

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