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: Iranian foreign ministry senior adviser discusses Yemen conflict with ICRC and UN officials; Saudi-led coalition offers to extract GPC leaders from Sana’a; Saudi Arabia and UAE to provide $70 million to support teachers’ salaries in Yemen; Emirati-backed forces blow up historic mosque in al Hudaydah governorate; President Hadi travels to U.S. to resume medical treatment; tropical cyclone Luban death toll rises to 12

Horn of Africa: Unknown militants kill ISIS in Somalia deputy leader in Mogadishu as part of leadership struggle; inter-clan clashes kill 70 people in disputed Sool region, northern Somalia; U.S. congressman asks U.S. government to sanction ex-Ethiopian intelligence chief

Yemen Security Brief

Iranian Foreign Ministry Senior Adviser Hossein Jaberi Ansari discussed the Syria and Yemen conflicts in separate meetings with Peter Maurer, the chief of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Susanne Rose, the Director of Middle East and West Asia Division at the United Nations, in Tehran on October 21. Ansari met with Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi and discussed the Yemen peace process in Muscat, Oman on October 16.[1]

Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki announced that the coalition is prepared to extract General People’s Congress (GPC) leaders who wish to defect from the al Houthi government.  The GPC was led by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh until al Houthi forces killed Saleh in December 2017. The GPC fractured after Saleh’s death and some of its members continue to support the al Houthi movement.[2]

General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Rabiah announced on October 23 that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will provide $70 million to pay the salaries of teachers in Yemen. Rabiah stated that Saudi Arabia will cooperate with the UN and UNICEF to facilitate the payments. Rabiah said that the donations will help provide 135,000 teachers with salaries. About 70 percent of Yemeni teachers have not received their salaries since October 2016, according to the UNICEF mission in Yemen.[3]

Emirati-backed Giants Brigades forces destroyed the historic al Fayzah mosque in Zabid district, southern al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on October 23. The Giants Brigades are southern Salafi militias trained by the UAE. Anti-al Houthi Salafi militias destroyed a historic mosque in Taiz governorate in 2016.[4]

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reportedly traveled from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to the U.S. on October 23 to resume medical treatment. Hadi last traveled to the U.S. for medical treatment in September.[5]

Tropical cyclone Luban has killed 12 people and injured 126 in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen since last week, according to a local health official. The official warned of a possible outbreak of diseases such as cholera and malaria due to stagnant water caused by flooding.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Unidentified militants killed the deputy leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Somalia, Mahad Moalim, in Mogadishu in mid-October. Somali authorities stated that they found Moalim’s body on a beach in Mogadishu one week ago. Moalim’s family accused rival ISIS commanders of killing him, according to Somali sources who spoke with the Associated Press. ISIS’s emir in Somalia, Abdiqadir Mumin, is reportedly ill, which has sparked a leadership crisis within the group, according to these sources. Al Shabaab militants executed Moalim on October 13 after learning he was in Mogadishu, according to sources who spoke with Voice of America journalist Harun Maruf. The U.S. government labeled Mahad Moalim a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in February 2018 and accused him of facilitating the shipment of weapons and fighters across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen.[7]

Two local militias within the Dhulbahante clan clashed in Dhumay district, Sool region, northern Somalia between October 21 and 23. The clashes killed approximately 70 people. The militias ignored multiple calls from traditional Dhulbahante elders and local religious leaders to cease fighting. The two sub-clans have periodically clashed since 2003. Somaliland and the Puntland administration periodically fight over the disputed Sool region.[8]

A United States congressman from Colorado, Mike Coffman, asked the U.S. government to sanction former Ethiopian intelligence chief Getachew Assefa on October 22. Coffman wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin requesting that they use the Magnitsky Act to sanction Assefa for his human rights violations as chief of Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service. Assefa fled Ethiopia for neighboring Sudan in August after learning of a warrant for his arrest, according to uncorroborated local media reports.[9]

[1] “Iran discusses Yemen, Syria crisis with ICRC, UN officials,” Iran Front Page, October 22, 2018,

[2] “Arab coalition offers safe exit for coup deserters in Yemen,” Asharq Al Awsat, October 23, 2018,

[3] “Kingdom, UAE to provide $70 million to support teachers’ salaries in Yemen in cooperation with UNICEF,” Saudi Press Agency, October 23, 2018,; and “Yemen’s unpaid teachers strike as education crisis deepens,” BBC, October 5, 2017,

[4] “Fighters in the Giants forces blow up a historic mosque south of al Hudaydah,” Al Masdar Online, October 23, 2018.

[5] “President Hadi leaves Riyadh and travels to the U.S. for medical treatment,” Al Masdar Online, October 23, 2018,

[6] “Yemen: death toll from tropical storm Luban rises to 12,” Al Jazeera, october 22, 2018,; and “Tropical strom kills 12 in eastern Yemen,” Anadolu Agency, October 21, 2018,  

[7] Abdi Guled, “Deputy chief of ISIS-linked group in Somalia killed: Officials,” Associated Press, October 23, 2018,; and “Office of Foreign Assets Control: Specially Designated Nationals List Update,” U.S. Department of Treasury, February 27, 2018,

[8] “Somali government calls for an end to the clan clashes in Sool province,” Radio Shabelle, October 23, 2018,; “Almost 40 people killed in clan clashes in Sool region,” Goobjoog, October 22, 2018,; and Rashid Abdi, Twitter, October 23, 2018,

[9] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “U.S. govt asked to sanction Ethiopia’s ex-spy boss, Getachew Assefa,” Africa News, October 23, 2018,; Addis Standard, Twitter, October 23, 2018,; and Engidu Woldie, “Arrest warrant issued against former Ethiopia spy chief Getachew Assefa,” ESAT, August 21, 2018,

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