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:  Unknown gunmen kill al Houthi official in Sana’a; al Houthis seek to strengthen ties with Iran; Saudi-led coalition claims intercepting al Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia; Hadi governmentaligned forces clash with al Houthis in al Jawf governorate

Horn of Africa: Islamic State in Somalia claims attacks in Mogadishu; KDF allegedly releases several abducted Somali citizens; Mozambique’s president meets RENAMO leaders for peace talks; Ethiopian security forces attack protesters demonstrating against ethnic violence in Amhara regional state

Yemen Security Brief:

Unknown gunmen killed the al Houthi Minister of Youth and Sports, Hassan Zaid, in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a on October 27. Al Houthi–run media blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the assassination. Anti–al Houthi media suggested that rival al Houthi factions killed Zaid. Unknown gunmen previously assassinated Ibrahim al Houthi, the brother of al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi, in Sana’a governorate in August 2019.[1]

The al Houthi foreign minister told the Iranian ambassador to the al Houthi movement, Hassan Erlou, during a meeting on October 27 that the al Houthi movement seeks to strengthen bilateral relations with Iran. Iran appointed Erlou as the ambassador to the al Houthi movement in mid-October.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition claimed intercepting multiple al Houthi drones targeting southwestern Saudi Arabia on October 27 and 28, respectively. The al Houthi movement claimed targeting Abha airport in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province on October 27. Coalition forces previously claimed intercepting al Houthi drones on October 26.[3]

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi clashed with al Houthi militants in the al Alam area of northern Yemen’s al Jawf governorate on October 28. Hadi government–aligned forces claimed seizing control of a mountain range from al Houthi militants in eastern al Jawf governorate on October 27.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

The Islamic State in Somalia claimed responsibility for shooting and killing a government official and detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on October 27. The explosion killed two civilians. The Islamic State in Somalia claimed killing several police officers near a market in Mogadishu in early April.[5]

A Somali Federal Government committee, led by Jubbaland State’s minister, stated that Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) released three of the eight Somali citizens the KDF allegedly abducted from Somalia’s southwestern Gedo region. KDF forces reportedly killed one of the eight abducted Somalis. The Gedo region’s governor accused the KDF of abducting Somali citizens from Gedo in early October.[6]

Mozambique’s president met with Military Junta of the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) leaders for peace talks on October 28. Mozambique’s government and RENAMO agreed to a seven-day truce in central Mozambique on October 25.[7]

Ethiopian federal and regional security forces used tear gas and batons to disband a protest against ethnic Amhara violence in Ethiopia’s northwestern Amhara regional state on October 28. The joint security forces reportedly injured and arrested an unknown number of protestors. Unidentified attackers targeted ethnic Amhara in western Benishangul-Gumuz regional state in early October.[8]

[1] “Houthi official gunned down in Yemeni capital,” Reuters, October 27, 2020,; and Andrew Larsen, Grace Anderson, Sarah Gordon, and Geoffrey Lamar, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - August 9, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 9, 2019,

[2] “Yemen’s Houthis want to strengthen Iran ties, minister tells Tehran’s new ambassador,” Reuters, October 27, 2020,; and “Iran posts ambassador in Houthi-held Yemeni capital,” Al Arabiya, October 17, 2020,

[3] “Saudi-led coalition says destroyed Houthi drones launched toward kingdom - Saudi TV,” Reuters, October 28, 2020,; “Yemen’s Houthis say attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport with drone,” Reuters, October 27, 2020,; and Hannah Kuperman and Sarah Gordon, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 26, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 26, 2020,

[4] “Controlling the al Alam front in al Jawf and the capture of more than 30 al Houthis this morning,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, October 28, 2020,; “The army launches a large military operation in al Jawf and regains important sites,” Mareb Press, October 27, 2020,

[5] “Three Killed in Latest Attack in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, October 27, 2020,; “ISIS Faction in Somalia Takes Responsibility for Attack in Mogadishu,” Garowe, October 27, 2020,; and Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 7, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 8, 2020,

[6] “Kenyan Military Releases Three People After Protests in Somalia,” Garowe, October 26, 2020,; and Hannah Kuperman and Sarah Gordon, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 14, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 14, 2020,

[7] “Filipe Nyusi Says Dialogue with the Self-Proclaimed Renamo Military Junta Has Begun,” Voice of America Portugues, October 28, 2020,; “ ‘The President Hasn’t Called Me Yet,’ says Nhongo of Nyusi’s Dialogue Proposal,” Deutsche Welle, October 26, 2020,; and “Mozambique: Filipe Nyusi announces measures to contain terrorism and attacks,” Deutsche Welle, October 24, 2020,çambique-filipe-nyusi-anuncia-medidas-para-conter-terrorismo-e-ataques/a-55385699.

[8] “News: Military, Police Disperse Crowds in Bahir Dar After Authorities Disallowed Opposition Rally,” Addis Standard, October 28, 2020,; and Sarah Gordon and Hannah Kuperman, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 9, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 9, 2020,

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