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: Reported U.S. drone strike kills AQAP commander in Abyan governorate; UN envoy to Yemen announces plans to meet with al Houthi leaders in Muscat and Sana’a; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces continue offensive around al Hudaydah city; ISIS accuses AQAP of choosing internecine conflict over removing spies

Horn of Africa: Somalia’s federal member states suspend relations with federal government; al Shabaab SVBIED targets government building in Hodan district, Mogadishu; Sudanese President dissolves government; likely Salafi-jihadi militants attack villages in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique; Ugandan President Museveni accuses U.S. of foreign meddling amid escalating domestic tensions  

Yemen Security Brief

A reported U.S. drone strike killed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior commander Ali Shana (also known as Sameh Al Marmi) in Ahwar district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on September 9. Ali Shana was reportedly the right-hand man of Jalal Bal’idi al Mariqishi, the leader of AQAP’s combat operations in Yemen until a drone strike killed him in 2016. The drone strike also killed three other AQAP militants. U.S. Central Command confirmed on August 30 that it has conducted six airstrikes in Yemen since May 2018.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths announced that he will travel to Muscat, Oman and Sana’a, Yemen to discuss the peace process with al Houthi leadership during press remarks in Geneva on September 8. The al Houthi delegation did not attend planned September 6 consultations in Geneva. Griffiths also refused to blame either side for the failure of the UN-led consultations in Geneva, saying that al Houthi delegation wanted to attend the consultations. Griffiths discussed confidence building measures with a delegation from the President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government between September 6 and 8 in Geneva.[2]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces continued an offensive to surround al Hudaydah port city between September 8 and 10. More than 70 al Houthi fighters and 11 Emirati-backed fighters died in the clashes around the city, according to local medical sources. Emirati-backed forces resumed the offensive on al Hudaydah port, western Yemen on September 7 after the al Houthi delegation did not attend the September 6 UN Geneva consultations. Emirati-backed forces are attempting to seize the main road linking Sana’a to the al Hudaydah port city.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) criticized al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for pursuing a military conflict with ISIS over dedicating resources to removing spies from AQAP in a September 8 statement produced by ISIS’s Moata News Agency. ISIS released the statement in response to a September 4 AQAP video claiming to depict confessions of spies recruited by Saudi intelligence. AQAP claimed in the video that the spies were responsible for providing intelligence that directed the majority of U.S. airstrikes against AQAP.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The leaders Somalia’s of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland, Puntland and South West federal states suspended relations with the Somali Federal Government on September 8. The leaders of the federal states announced the suspension of relations at the end of a four-day conference in Kismayo, southern Somalia. The state leaders claimed that the Somali Federal Government had failed to handle the country’s security and fulfill its constitutional obligations to the federal states.[5]

Al Shabaab militants conducted a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on a local government building in Hodan district, Mogadishu on September 10. The militants exchanged gunfire with security forces. The attack killed six people and injured sixteen others. The bombing was the second SVBIED attack targeting government buildings in Mogadishu this month.[6]

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir dissolved the government and appointed a new prime minister, Motazz Moussa, on September 9. Moussa will replaces Bakri Hassan Saleh, who was named the country’s first prime minister in 2017. Bashir announced the appointment following an emergency meeting of ruling party officials at the presidential palace regarding Sudan’s rapid inflation and hard currency shortages.[7]

Likely Salafi-jihadi militants attacked dozens of homes across two districts in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique in the past week. Militants attacked Mocimboa da Praia district on September 5 and Macomia district on September 7. Neither attack caused casualties and no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Mozambican authorities captured one of the leaders of the Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militant group in Cabo Delgado province on August 16. Attacks by likely Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militants have killed 39 people and displaced over 1,000 since May 2018.[8]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni criticized the United States for interfering in Uganda’s domestic affairs during a speech on September 10. Museveni threatened to draft legislation to penalize Ugandan non-governmental organizations that receive significant foreign funding. The popular Ugandan opposition parliamentarian Bobi Wine and his Canadian lawyer held a press conference in Washington D.C. on September 6 in which they called on the United States to suspend military aid to Uganda over Museveni’s human rights record. Ugandan authorities had previously detained Bobi Wine on treason charges in August, prompting a statement from the U.S. State Department. Unidentified gunmen killed Muhammad Kirumira, a prominent police official and anti-government critic, and his wife near their home in Kampala on September 8. Kirumira gained fame for his outspoken views on police corruption. He was highly popular among Bobi Wine’s supporters, and Bobi Wine criticized the Ugandan government for failing to prevent his death.[9]


[1] “Al Qaeda commander killed by US drone strike in Yemen,” The National, September 10, 2018, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/al-qaeda-commander-killed-by-us-drone-strike-in-yemen-1.768818; “Suspected US drone strike kills 4 al-Qaeda members in Yemen,” Arab News, September 9, 2018,http://www.arabnews.com/node/1369486/middle-east; and “A senior AQAP leader suspected to be killed in Yemen,” RT, September 9, 2018, https://arabic.rt.com/middle_east/968756-%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84-%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%AC%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86/.

[2] “Note to correspondents: Press remarks by UN special envoy of the Secretary-General, Martin Griffith,” UN, September 8, 2018, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/note-correspondents/2018-09-08/note-correspondents-press-remarks-un-special-envoy.

[3] “Dozens killed in heavy clashes in al Hudaydah,” BBC Arabic, September 9, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-45466575; and “al Hudaydah fighting leaves scores dead after Yemen talks fail,” The Daily Star, September 10, 2018, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2018/Sep-10/462946-hudaida-fighting-leaves-scores-dead-after-yemen-talks-fail.ashx.

[4] “Prominent Pro-IS group spins latest AQAP video on espionage to reflect askew priorities,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 8, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Chatter/prominent-pro-is-group-spins-latest-aqap-video-on-espionage-to-reflect-askew-priorities.html; and “AQAP claims Saudi spy network targeted its leaders,” Long War Journal, September 4, 2018, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/09/aqap-claims-saudi-spy-network-targeted-its-leaders.php.

[5] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somali Regional States Suspend Ties with Federal Government,” VOA, September 8 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/somali-regional-states-suspend-ties-with-federal-government-/4563231.html.

[6] “Car bomb hits Somali capital, leaves unknown casualties,” Cameroon Concord News, September 10 2018, http://www.cameroonconcordnews.com/car-bomb-hits-somali-capital-leaves-unknown-casualties/; “Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 6 in Somalia,” New York Times, September 10 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/world/africa/somalia-mogadishu-suicide-bombing.html.

[7] “Sudan government dissolved, new PM tasked to form a smaller cabinet,” Africa News, September 10 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/09/10/sudan-gov-t-dissolved-new-pm-tasked-to-form-a-smaller-cabinet/;Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 6 in Somalia,” New York Times, September 10 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/world/africa/somalia-mogadishu-suicide-bombing.html;

[8] “Cabo Delgado: Two villages attacked in three days,” Club of Mozambique, September 10 2018, http://clubofmozambique.com/news/cabo-delgado-two-villages-attacked-in-three-days/; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 21, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-21-2018.

[9] Kim Aine, “Museveni Blasts U.S. Foreign Meddling; Proposes Law to Punish Collaborators,” Chimp Reports, September 10 2018, https://chimpreports.com/museveni-blasts-u-s-foreign-meddling-proposes-law-to-punish-collaborators/?utm_source=Media+Review+for+September+10%2C+2018&utm_campaign=Media+Review+for+September+10%2C+2018&utm_medium=email; “Official: Prominent police officer in Uganda is shot dead,” news24, September 9 2018, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/official-prominent-police-officer-in-uganda-is-shot-dead-20180909?utm_source=Media+Review+for+September+10%2C+2018&utm_campaign=Media+Review+for+September+10%2C+2018&utm_medium=email; Japeth Ogila, “Why fearless Ugandan policeman Muhammad Kirumira was gunned down,” Standard Digital, September 10 2018, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001295192/why-fearless-ugandan-policeman-muhammad-kirumira-was-gunned-down; and Bobi Wine, Twitter, September 9, 2018, https://twitter.com/HEBobiwine/status/1038687009454411776.

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