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 State Pompeo certifies that Saudi-led coalition is attempting to reduce harm to civilians; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seize positions along main road connecting Sana’a to al Hudaydah city; UN Special Envoy to Yemen travels to Oman to meet with al Houthi officials

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal government attempts to resolve disputes with federal member states; U.S.-backed Somali special forces raid al Shabaab base in Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region; SNA forces arrest al Shabaab militants in Bardhere, Gedo region; al Shabaab ambush Kenyan police in Mandera County, northeastern Kenya; Kenyan police announce additional police deployments to Somali border

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo certified to Congress on September 12 that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking clear actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians resulting from military operations in Yemen. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Trump administration to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking proactive steps to end the war in Yemen. This certification will allow the U.S. military to continue refueling Saudi-led coalition aircraft conducting operations in Yemen. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that he endorses Pompeo’s certification to the Congress in a September 12 statement.[1]

Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seized positions along the main road linking the capital Sana’a to the al Hudaydah port city on September 12. Emirati-backed forces seized the Kilo 16 and Kilo 10 areas, east of al Hudaydah city, from al Houthi forces. Clashes between Emirati-backed Yemeni forces and al Houthi forces killed at least 60 al Houthi troops in al Hudaydah city, western Yemen on September 12, according to an Emirati-backed Yemeni commander. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces will push into al Hudaydah city along the coastal road toward al Hudaydah University in southern neighborhoods of the city, according to a Yemeni military source. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces began an offensive on al Hudaydah port city on September 7 after the al Houthi delegation failed to attend the September 6 UN consultations in Geneva.[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths traveled to Muscat, Oman to meet with Omani foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi and al Houthi political leaders. Griffiths told the United Nations Security Council on September 11 that he will also visit Sana’a, Yemen to meet with al Houthi leaders and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet with members of the Hadi government in the coming days to discuss the peace process. The al Houthi movement did not attend UN-led consultations in Geneva on September 6.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Upper House of Somalia’s parliament dispatched delegates to each of Somalia’s five federal member states on September 12 in an effort to mediate a crisis between the member states and the Somali Federal Government (SFG). The presidents of Somalia’s Five Federal Member States--Puntland, Southwest, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland, and Galmudug--issued a communique announcing a suspension of relations with the SFG after a four-day summit of the Council of Interstate Cooperation (CIC) in Kismayo on September 8. The presidents of Puntland and Southwest State ordered their respective cabinets to begin implementing the Kismayo communique on September 11.  Leading politicians in Galmudug, Puntland, and Hirshabelle states have criticized the decision. Traditional elders in Hiraan region called on Hirshabelle state President Mohamed Abdi Waare to resign on September 12 in response to Waare’s signing of the communique.[4]

U.S.-backed Somali “Danab” special forces conducted an operation targeting an al Shabaab base in Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on September 11. The U.S.-backed Danab forces inflicted casualties on al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab claimed to stop the assault, which it said involved airborne units. Al Shabaab claimed to cause casualties and material losses.[5]

Somali National Army (SNA) troops arrested 11 al Shabaab militants in Bardhere town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on September 12.[6]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) and ambushed a Kenyan Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) police patrol in El Ram area, Mandera County, northeastern Kenya on September 12. Local media report that the IED and ambush failed to kill any police and that the police killed six militants. Al Shabaab claimed the IED killed everyone on board the vehicle.[7]

The Kenyan government announced plans to recruit additional police reservists on September 12. Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamed Biriki said the reservists will be posted at 60 points along the Kenya-Somali border in order to interdict al Shabaab. The majority of the new reservists are retired security officers who left the service with clean records. Birik declined to state how many reservists the police plan to recruit.[8]


[1] “Certification to Congress on Actions of Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen under the NDAA,” U.S. Department of State, September 12, 2018, https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/09/285861.htm; “Pompeo allows U.S. military to aid Saudi coalition in Yemen to continue,” The Hill, September 12, 2018, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/406224-pompeo-allows-us-military-aid-to-saudi-coalition-in-yemen-to-continue; and “Statement by Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis on actions of Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, September 12, 2018, https://dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1628689/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-james-n-mattis-on-actions-of-saudi-arabia-and/source/GovDelivery/.

[2] “Fighting resumes in Yemen al Hudaydah as peace talks stall,” Reuters, September 12, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/fighting-resumes-in-yemens-hodeidah-as-peace-talks-stall-idUSKCN1LS24A; Yemen troops take key al Hudaydah roads: military sources,” Gulf News, September 12, 2018,https://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/yemen/yemen-troops-take-key-hodeida-roads-military-sources-1.2277652; “More than 60 al Houthi killed in al Hudaydah,” al Ittihad, September 12, 2018, https://www.alittihad.ae/Article/63299/2018/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84-60-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%83-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A9; and “Yemen pro-government cut major Houthi supply route,” The National, September 12, 2018, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/yemen-pro-government-forces-cut-major-houthi-supply-route-1.769574.

[3] “Griffiths begin new round of talks in Muscat,” News Yemen, September 12, 2018, https://www.newsyemen.net/news33794.html; and “UN Yemen envoy to visit Sana’a, Riyadh, and Muscat after Geneva talks setback,” The National, September 12, 2018, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/un-yemen-envoy-to-visit-sanaa-riyadh-and-muscat-after-geneva-talks-setback-1.769394.

[4] “Southwest and Puntland formally cut off ties with Central Government,” Radio Shabelle, September 12, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/southwest-and-puntland-formall-cut-off-ties-with-central-government/; “Hirshabelle leader asked to resign for incompetence,” Radio Shabelle, September 12, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/hirshabelle-leader-asked-to-resign-for-incompetence/; “Gulf of Aden security review, September 11, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 11, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-11-2018; and “Federal states suspend relations with SFG as it seeks audit report,” Garowe Online, September 9, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-federal-states-suspend-relations-with-fgs-as-it-seeks-audit-report.

[5] “Somali National Army arrest 11 al-Shabaab militants in Gedo region, southern Somalia,” Strategic Intelligence, September 12, 2018, https://intelligencebriefs.com/somali-national-army-arrest-11-al-shabaab-militants-in-gedo-region-southern-somalia/; and “Shabaab claims thwarting U.S. Special Forces operation in Lower Shabelle, bombing KDF vehicle in Mandera County,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 12, 2018, translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[6] “Somali National Army arrest 11 al-Shabaab militants in Gedo region, southern Somalia,” Strategic Intelligence, September 12, 2018, https://intelligencebriefs.com/somali-national-army-arrest-11-al-shabaab-militants-in-gedo-region-southern-somalia/.

[7] “6 al-Shabaab terrorists killed in El-Ram in Kenya’s northeastern prefecture,” Strategic Intelligence, September 12, 2018, https://intelligencebriefs.com/6-al-shabaab-terrorists-killed-in-el-ram-in-kenyas-north-eastern-prefecture/; and “Shabaab claims thwarting U.S. Special Forces operation in Lower Shabelle, bombing KDF vehicle in Mandera County,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 12, 2018, translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[8] “Kenya to intensify border patrols to curtail movements of militants,” Xinhua, September 12, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-09/12/c_137463607.htm; and “Kenya deploys additional troops along the border with Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, September 12, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/kenya-deploys-additional-troops-along-the-border-with-somalia/.

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