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. Secretary of State and Saudi Foreign Minister reiterate commitment to Yemen ceasefire; Chairman of al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council calls for end of Saudi-led coalition blockade; U.S. Department of State designates Hezbollah commander for operations in Syria and Yemen

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate election delegate in Mogadishu; AMISOM forces inadvertently kill a civilian in Mogadishu; Puntland State elects three women, rejects former warlord in Upper House elections; Ethiopian government detains 1,645 protesters during state of emergency

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir issued a joint statement on October 20 clarifying that the humanitarian ceasefire, which began at 23:59 local time on October 19, is still in effect in Yemen. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri stated earlier on October 20 that there is virtually “no ceasefire” due to al Houthi-Saleh infractions. Asiri’s statement prompted regional observers to speculate that the Saudi-led coalition was abandoning its commitment to the ceasefire. An al Houthi-Saleh missile attack killed two Saudi civilians in al Khobah area, Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 20. Secretary Kerry said in response to the al Houthi-Saleh attack that "Saudi Arabia has a right to be free from missiles being launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia." Foreign Minister al Jubeir reiterated Saudi Arabia’s right to defend itself and urged the al Houthi-Saleh alliance to respect the ceasefire. Secretary Kerry confirmed that violence across Yemen has decreased significantly despite some ceasefire infractions. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reaffirmed his government's commitment to the ceasefire in a separate press conference on October 20.[1]
  • The chairman of the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council, Saleh al Samad, announced on October 21 that the international community has failed to lift the Saudi-led coalition's blockade on al Houthi-Saleh held territory or prevent the coalition from striking al Houthi-Saleh positions. The chairman accused the Saudi-led coalition of bombing Hajjah, al Jawf, and Ma’rib governorates during the first day of the ceasefire.[2]
  • The U.S. Department of State designated Lebanese Hezbollah commander Haytham Ali Tabataba’i, also known as Abu Ali al Tabataba’i, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) for his operations in Syria and Yemen. DoS announced that Tabataba’i’s operations are part of larger Hezbollah efforts to provide “training, materiel, and personnel support” to allied forces in Yemen and Syria.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Suspected al Shabaab militants killed Mohamed Tabari Shikhow, a prominent elder and an expected delegate in the upcoming Somali elections, in the Yaqshid district of Mogadishu on October 20. Shikhow is the latest victim in a string of assassinations by suspected al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu.[4]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces killed a civilian and wounded two others at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu on October 19. AMISOM issued an apology on October 20 and launched an investigation into the event. AMISOM has struggled to win the support of the Somali population for its fight against al Shabaab. AMISOM recently announced a plan to compensate civilians injured in security operations.[5]
  • Puntland State elected 11 representatives, including three women, to Somalia’s newly formed Upper House on October 20. Delegates did not elect Mohamed Hersi Morgan, a warlord and son-in-law of former Somali dictator Siad Barre. Current Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke won his seat in a landslide victory. Sharmarke will be a top challenger to sitting President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed in the November 30 presidential contest.[6]
  • The government of Ethiopia announced it has detained 1,645 individuals since declaring a state of emergency on October 8. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expanded the scope of the emergency declaration on October 16 to include curfews and limits on the movement of foreign diplomats, among other restrictions.[7]
[1] “Remarks With Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir After Their Meeting,” U.S. Department of State, October 20, 2016,; and “Hadi says that the powers and directed field commanders in the army and the resistance to the truce commitment,” al Masdar, October 20, 2016,
[2] “President of the Supreme Political Council: the falurie of the international community to seek a UN resolution to halt a comprehensive and permanent aggression against Yemen disregards the blood of Yemenis and covers the crimes of the Saudi regime,” Saba News, October 21, 2016,
[3] “State Department Terrorist Designation,” U.S. Department of State, October 20, 2016,
[4] “Well Known Somali elder killed in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, October 21, 2016,; and “Well-known Elder shot dead in Somali Capital,” October 20, 2016, Shabelle News,
[5] “AMISOM apologises for shooting civilians in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, October 21, 2016,; and “AMISOM Statement on the Killing of a Civilian Contractor,”
[6] “Three women voted in, former warlord locked out in Puntland Senate polls,” Goobjoog News, October 20, 2016,
[7] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopia arrests 1,645 ‘ringleaders and bandits’ in crackdown on violence,” Reuters, October 20, 2016,; and Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopia announces new curbs as part of state of emergency measures,” Reuters, October 16, 2016,  
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