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 Defense condemns Iran’s support for al Houthi forces; ISIS claims attack on al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; rival al Houthi factions clash in Sa’ada governorate, western Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Ethiopian AMISOM troops in Hiraan region, central Somalia; airstrike kills 11 al Shabaab militants in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; Jubbaland security forces clash with clans in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; Sudan and Eritrea set to normalize relations; Somali President Farmajo requests dialogue with federal member states

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that Washington stands against Iran’s proliferation of advanced conventional weapons and its support for militant movements throughout the Middle East, including its support for al Houthi forces, in a speech in Manama,  Bahrain on October 27. Iran continues to export missiles, rockets, and unmanned aerial systems to the al Houthi movement in violation of United Nations strictures, according to Mattis. Al Houthi forces launched a ballistic missile at al Manther in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on Oct 28.[1]

ISIS claimed to destroy an al Houthi checkpoint in Za’j area of Walad Rabia district, northwestern al Bayda governorate on October 29.[2]

Al Houthi forces loyal to the group’s leader, Abdul Malik al Houthi, clashed with a faction of the group loyal to al Houthi’s uncle, Mohammed Abdul Azim, in Sa’ada governorate, western Yemen on October 28, according to Emirati news sources. Abdul Azim disagreed with Abdul Malik al Houthi over Iran’s interference in Yemen’s affairs and its dissemination of its political and religious doctrine in the country, according to Emirati media. Abdul Malik al Houthi’s forces kidnapped members of Abdul Azim’s faction during the clashes.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a convoy of Ethiopian troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in El-Gal village near Beledweyne, Hiraan region, central Somalia on October 29. Al Shabaab claimed to kill 30 Ethiopian soldiers in the attack, but these casualties are likely exaggerated.[4]

Unidentified aircraft conducted an airstrike that killed 11 al Shabaab militants, including a senior official, in Kasuuma, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on October 28. Kenyan and U.S. forces both conduct airstrikes in Lower Jubba region. United States Africa Command has not claimed the strike.[5]

Jubbaland security forces clashed with clan militias in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on October 27. The clashes started after the regional administration of Jubbaland issued a decree banning illegal arms for non-security personnel. The new directive is intended to prevent al Shabaab militants disguised as soldiers from infiltrating the area. Renegade Jubbaland soldiers killed a clan elder during the fight, according to a Jubbaland official. Jubbaland security forces arrested at least 11 renegade soldiers after the clashes.[6]

Sudan and Eritrea will normalize relations soon, according to Sudanese media. Sudanese President Omar al Bashir will meet his Eritrean counterpart, President Isaias Afwerki, in the coming days, according to Sudanese media.[7]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo urged Somalia’s federal member states to address their disagreements with the Somali Federal Government (SFG) through dialogue on October 28. Farmajo stated that the instability between the federal government and member states threatens Somalia’s progress in stabilization. The federal member states suspended ties with the SFG on September 8. Four of the federal member states announced plans to create a new military force on October 25, challenging the SFG’s national security architecture.[8]

[1] “Mattis: US stands against Iran’s proliferation of weapons and funding of proxy terrorists in Yemen,” Al Masdar News, October 27, 2018,; “Remarks by Secretary Mattis at International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue,” Department of Defense, October 27, 2018,; Yemen Embassy D.C., Twitter, October 28, 2018,; and “Houthis bomb al Manther, Yemen with ballistic missile,” WAM Emirati News Agency, October 28, 2018

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, October 27, 2018,

[3] “Clashes between Houthi factions in Yemen’s Saada,” Al Arabiya News, October 29, 2018,

[4] “Al-Shabaab claims blast that killed 30 Ethiopian soldiers in central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, October 29, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 29, 2018,

[5] Harun Maruf, Twitter, October 28, 2018,; and Ali Abdi, “An explosion ripped through a church in Kamsuuma,” Radio Muqdisho, October 28, 2018,

[6] “New details emerge over clashes in Kismayo town,” Hiiraan, October 28, 2018,; and “Jubbaland forces carry out security sweep in Kismayo after fighting,” Radio Shabelle, October 28, 2018,

[7] “Eritrea, Sudan to normalize relations soon,” Sudan Tribune, October 28, 2018,

[8] “President Farmaajo appeals for dialogue with state leaders amid split,” Goobjoog, October 28, 2018,; “Somali Regional States Suspend Ties with the Federal Government,” VOA, September 8 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: September 10, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 10, 2018,

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