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 Foreign Minister claims STC-Hadi government agreement imminent; US Secretary of Defense visits US troops at Saudi airbase; Hadi government accuses al Houthis of blocking oil tankers in al Hudaydah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims attacks in Mogadishu and southern Somalia; US-backed Somali special forces conduct operation in Middle Jubba region; al Shabaab militants attack bus in northeastern Kenya; Somali police turn over suspected al Shabaab militants to Kenyan authorities

 Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al Jubeir stated on October 23 that the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government are close to reaching an agreement to end a standoff over Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden. STC-aligned forces seized Aden and unseated the Hadi government from the city in August, prompting weeks of clashes in the city and neighboring governorates.[1]

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper visited Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Air Base on October 22. Nearly 3,000 US soldiers recently deployed to the base along with three Patriot missile batteries and dozens of fighter jets. Esper stated that he is in conversations with US allies to boost defense capabilities in the Gulf region.[2]

The Hadi government’s Economic Commission accused the al Houthi movement of preventing the entry of eight oil tankers into al Hudaydah port in western Yemen on October 24. The tankers contain 164,000 tons of oil derivatives.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed to kill a UN staff member and wound an official from the Somali Prime Minister’s office in a bombing in the Waberi district of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on October 24. The group also claimed three attacks on Somali National Army (SNA) forces in southern Somalia on October 23, including a bombing and an ambush in Lower Jubba region and a bombing in the outskirts of Mogadishu. The attacks are unconfirmed.[4]

US-backed Somali Danab special forces conducted an operation targeting al Shabaab militants in Bu’ale and Jamame towns in Middle Jubba region in southern Somalia on October 24. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched an airstrike in support of the operation.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a van carrying construction workers near El Wak town, located along the Somali border in Kenya’s northeastern Mandera County, on October 23. Ten militants opened fire on the vehicle after the driver refused to stop at a checkpoint. The attack failed to injure anyone.[6]

Somali police turned over two suspected al Shabaab militants to Kenyan authorities in Garissa County near the Somali border on October 23. The militants fled to Somalia after committing crimes in Kenya.[7]

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[1] “Saudi Arabia: ‘We think that appeasement does not work with Iran,’” Liberation, October 23, 2019,

[2] “Defense Secretary Esper to urge NATO to pay more to protect Saudi Arabia from Iran,” Military Times, October 22, 2019,

[3] “Houthis block the entry of 8 fuel tankers to the port of Hodeidah Yemen,” SMA News, October 24, 2019,

[4] “Shabaab Claims Killing UN Staff Member, Somali PM Office Official in Bombing, in Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, October 24, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[5] Tuuryare, Abdirisak, “Somali Commandos Target Al Shabaab,” Mareeg, October 24, 2019,

[6] “Mandera driver saves passengers from suspected Al-Shabaab,” Daily Nation, October 24, 2019,

[7] Wambui, Mary, “Somalia hands over 2 Al-Shabaab suspects to Kenyan police,” Daily Nation, October 24, 2019,

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