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: UN experts inspect shipment of possible Iranian weapons off Yemen coast; al Houthi movement negotiator meets Russian officials in Moscow; anti-al Houthi sources claim al Houthi movement plans to smuggle its leader outside of Yemen; Emirati-backed forces seize naval missiles from al Houthi forces; al Houthi forces claim to fire Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: KDF repels al Shabaab attack in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; Ethiopian parliament appoints first female president 

Yemen Security Brief

UN experts inspected on October 25 a shipment of 2,500 AK-47s that the U.S. Navy seized in the Gulf of Aden on August 28. U.S. officials have suggested that the weapons could provide new evidence of Iranian support for al Houthi forces in Yemen. The U.S Navy is currently storing the weapons aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham approximately 70 miles off the southern coast of Yemen.[1]

The al Houthi movement’s lead negotiator, Mohammed Abdul Salam, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the Middle East and Africa on October 25 in Moscow. The trio discussed the creation of an inclusive inter-Yemeni dialogue under the UN.[2]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi will be smuggled out of Yemen, according to anti-al Houthi sources. The sources also stated that Abdul Malik al Houthi assigned two al Houthi officials, Ali Abu al Hakim and Mohamad Ali al Houthi, to plan and oversee the assassinations of senior figures in President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government within the next two months.[3]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seized multiple naval missiles hidden by al Houthi forces in the Kilo 10 area of al Hali district, eastern al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on October 25. The missiles were Russian-made, according to Emirati news sources.[4]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire three Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia on October 26. The Saudi Ministry of Defense has not confirmed the missile strikes.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) base in Bilis Qooqani, Afmadow district, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on October 26. KDF forces repelled the attack, killing 24 al Shabaab militants.[6]

Ethiopia’s Parliament appointed its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, in Addis Ababa on October 25. Zewde is a long-serving diplomat who has held positions in the United Nations and worked in peacekeeping operations across Africa. Ethiopia’s presidency is largely ceremonial. Zewde is currently Africa’s only female head of state.[7]

[1] “U.S., UN seek to identify weapons seized off the coast of Yemen,” The Washington Post, October 26, 2018,

[2] “On the meeting of the Special Representative of the Russian Federation on the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov with the representative of the Ansarullah movement ,” Russian Foreign Ministry, October 25, 2018,

[3] “Planning to smuggle the leader of the al Houthi movement outside Yemen,” Alsharq Times, October 26, 2018,; and “Preparations to smuggle the leader of the al Houthi movement outside Yemen,” Alweeam, October 26, 2018,

[4] “Yemen Giants Brigades find al Houthi missiles in al Hudaydah in Yemen,” Sky News Arabia, October 25, 2018,

[5] “Destroying a truck and firing three Zilzal 1 on Saudi soldiers in Jizan,” Al Masirah, October 26, 2018,

[6] Denis Mwangi, “KDF Kill 24 Al Shabaab Militants in Bilis Qooqani,”, October 26, 2018,

[7] Hadra Ahmed and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “Ethiopia Appoints Its First Female President,” New York Times, October 25, 2016,

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