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: Head of UN human rights panel accuses Saudi Arabia and UAE of interfere in its work; southern Yemenis continue economic protests against Hadi government; UN Envoy to Yemen meets with southern secessionist leader in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Horn of Africa: Former al Shabaab deputy leader to run for state president in Somalia’s Southwest state; Ethiopia charges five suspects with terrorism for PM Abiy assassination attempt; former Puntland president selected to mediate dispute between Somali Federal Government and Federal Member States

Yemen Security Brief

The head of a UN human rights mission in Yemen, Kamel Jendoobi, accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of interfering in the panel’s work in an October 4 interview with al Jazeera. The August report accused all sides of the conflict of violating human rights but also stated that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes are the leading cause of civilian casualties. Jendoobi affirmed that the panel’s work was “professional, neutral and objective.” The UN Human Rights Council voted to extend the mandate of the panel for one year to investigate alleged human rights violations and war crimes in Yemen despite strong objections from Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government on September 28.[1]

Protestors continued demonstrations in Taiz city on October 4 and called for the overthrow of the Hadi government in response to the currency crisis. Demonstrators ripped up pictures of President Hadi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) called for a peaceful uprising against the Hadi government on October 3. Protests in Taiz began on October 2.[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with STC President Aydarus al Zubaidi in Abu Dhabi, UAE on October 4. Griffiths and al Zubaidi discussed the STC’s participation in future peace talks. The STC asserted in a press release after the meeting that it will only stand with the people of the south and repeated a call for southern secession. Griffiths and al Zubaidi also met in Amman, Jordan on August 29. Griffiths will meet with Emirati officials while in Abu Dhabi.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s former deputy leader, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, will run for president of Somalia’s Southwest state in the upcoming November 2018 elections. Robow will run against incumbent Hassan Sheikh Aden. The Somali Federal Government removed Robow from its list of designated terrorists in June 2017 and removed a $5 million bounty on his head. Robow surrendered to the SFG after clashes between his militias and al Shabaab in August 2017. Some Southwest State MPs support Robow in the election.[4]

Ethiopia’s attorney general filed terrorism charges on September 28 against five people for a June 23 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The perpetrators detonated a bomb at a rally for Abiy in Addis Ababa, killing two people and injuring 150 others. The government claimed that the suspects hoped to pave the way for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to take power. Abiy, himself an Oromo, removed the OLF and other ethnonationalist rebel groups from the state’s list of designated terrorist organizations in July. The OLF and other rebel groups have since demobilized and returned to Ethiopia, promising to respect the democratic process. The return of these rebel groups has prompted armed clashes among their supporters in recent weeks, however.[5]

The Somali parliament selected the former president of Puntland, Abdirahman Farole, to chair a mediation team tasked with resolving the ongoing dispute between the SFG and the Federal Member States on October 2. The UN has called for dialogue to mitigate the conflict and warned that it could impair the country’s fight against al Shabaab. The Federal Member States broke ties with the SFG on September 8, citing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s failure to maintain Somalia’s security and equitably distribute resources among the states.[6]


[1] “Saudi-UAE alliance interfered in UN panel’s work in Yemen,” Al Jazeera, October 4, 2018,

[2] “Protests in Taiz in response to the currency crisis,” Barakish, October 4, 2018,

[3] “UN envoy meets south Yemen separatist head after uprising call,” Daily Star, October 4, 2018,; “Zubaidi meets Griffith again… and discusses the participation of the Southern Transitional Council in the upcoming negotiations,” Yemen Window, October 4, 2018,; and “UN envoy meets Aydarus Zubaidi in Abu Dhabi,” al Mashad al Yemeni, October 4, 2018,

[4] Twitter, October 4, 2018,; Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Former al-Shabaab deputy leader to seek elected office,” Africa News, October 4, 2018,

[5]  “Ethiopia charges 5 with terrorism over assassination attempt,” Associated PressWashington Post, September 28, 2018,; Daniel Mumbere, “Ethiopia removes ‘terrorist’ label from OLF, ONLF, and Ginbot 7 opposition groups,” Africa News, July 5, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: September 17, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 17, 2018,

[6] “Former Puntand president picked as chief mediator in Somalia’s political crisis,” Garowe Online, October 2, 2018,; Harun Maruf, “UN envoy: Somali leaders’ lack of trust stymies progress,” Voice of America, September 14, 2018,; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalia’s regional states suspend ties with federal government,” September 8, 2018,

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