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: UN humanitarian coordinator warns al Hudaydah offensive places hundreds of thousands of Yemenis at risk; Spain proceeds with sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia; ISIS claims to repel al Houthi attack in al Bayda governorate; al Houthi forces kill Saudi soldier near the Saudi-Yemeni border

Horn of Africa: Ethiopia leads world in internally displaced people in 2018; AFRICOM conducts airstrike in support of U.S.-Somali joint operation in Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region; bad intelligence may be at fault in U.S.-backed Somali raid on former Somali president’s home; Somali forces kill al Shabaab Amniyat leader in eastern Mogadishu and senior commander in Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande warned on September 13 that hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk due to the renewed  Emirati-backed offensive on al Hudaydah port city in western Yemen. Grande stated that the situation has worsened since the September 6 UN consultations failed and fighting resumed between Emirati-backed Yemeni forces and al Houthi forces in al Hudaydah. Grande added that 900,000 people are in desperate need of food assistance in al Hudaydah governorate and 25 percent of children in the governorate are malnourished. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo certified to Congress on September 12 that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking clear actions to reduce undermine the risk of harm to civilians resulting from military operations in Yemen.[1]

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced that the Spanish government will proceed with the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia on September 13. Borrell insisted that the weapons were precision weapons that limit collateral damage. Human Rights Watch demanded an immediate halt to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia on September 2. Spanish Minister of Defense Margarita Robles halted the delivery of 400 Spanish-made bombs to Saudi Arabia due to concerns that the weapons may be used in the Yemen conflict on September 3.[2]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed its militants repelled an al Houthi attack in northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on September 13. Al Houthi forces attacked ISIS militants in the Z’aj area of Walid Rabi district, northwestern al Bayda, according to the ISIS statement.[3]

Al Houthi forces killed a Saudi soldier in an unspecified location near the Saudi-Yemeni border on September 13, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Minister of the Saudi National Guard Prince Khalid bin Abdul Aziz bin Ayyaf conveyed King Salman’s condolences to the soldier’s family in a phone call on September 13.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Internal conflict has forced 1.4 million Ethiopians to flee their homes since January, making it the country with the most internally displaced persons in the world in 2018. The majority of those internally displaced have fled intercommunal violence in Gedeo and West Guji zones of southern Ethiopia as well violence along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions.[5]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab militants in defense of U.S. and Somali special forces in Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region on September 11. U.S.-backed Somali “Danab” special forces were conducting an operation against al Shabaab when they came under fire, prompting the air strike. The strike killed two militants. No U.S. military personnel were injured in the engagement, but one Somali soldier was killed and two others were injured.[6]

The U.S.-backed Somali special forces who raided the family home of a former Somali president may have been acting on bad intelligence, according to Somali intelligence officials. U.S.-backed Somali “Danab” forces raided the former home of Somalia’s first president, Aden Abdulle Osman Daar, popularly known as Aden Adde, in Janale town, Lower Shabelle region on September 7. U.S.-Somali forces detained three members of Daar’s family during the raid. A source in Somali intelligence told Guardian reporter Jason Burke that the Americans did not know the location and mistakenly thought it was an al Shabaab hideout. Local informants sometimes provide bad intelligence to American Special Operations Forces due to the informants’ clan bias, according to the source. The office of Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire apologized to Daar’s family for the raid. The whereabouts of the three detained family members are unknown.[7]

Somali police killed al Shabaab commander Abukar Hassan Adde, alias “Sayyid Abukar,” in Heliwa district, Mogadishu on September 11. Abukar was the commander of al Shabaab’s Amniyat intelligence wing in eastern Mogadishu and operated primarily in the Heliwa and Yaqshid districts. Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officials also killed a senior al Shabaab commander in Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region on September 11. Somali officials did not reveal the commander’s name.[8]



[1] “UN says Yemen situation worsening fast and risk to hundreds of thousands,” Reuters, September 13, 2018,; and “Yemen: 300,000 lives hang in balance, says UN,” The Guardian, September 13, 2018,; and “Hundreds of thousands of civilians are terrified by fighting in al Hudaydah,” Relief Web, September 13, 2018,

[2] “Spain to proceed with Saudi bomb deal after halting it,” The Guardian, September 13, 2018,

[3] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims it repelled an al Houthi attack in northwestern al Bayda governorate, Telegram, September 13, 2018.

[4] “Minister of the Saudi national Guard send his condolences to the Saudi soldier’s family,” Saudi Press Agency, September 13, 2018,

[5]“Ethiopia tops global list of highest internal displacement,” Norwegian Refugee Council, September 12, 2018,; and Adane Bikila, “Ethiopia tops global list of internal displacement,” CAJ News Africa, September 13, 2018,

[6] John Vander, “U.S. launches Somalia strike after troops come under attack,” Stars and Stripes, September 13, 2018,; “U.S. conducts air bombardment in support of Federal Government of Somalia,” Strategic Intelligence, September 13, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 12, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 12, 2018,

[7] Jason Burke, “U.S.-assisted raid on Somali ex-leader’s home blamed on bad intelligence,” The Guardian, September 13, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 7, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 7, 2018,

[8] “Top al Shabaab operative ‘killed’ in ambush,” The East African, September 12, 2018,; “Somali police kill Abukar Hassan Adde alias Sayyid Abukarey, a senior al Shabaab Amniyat operative in Mogadishu,” Strategic Intelligence, September 11, 2018,; and “Somali forces kill senior al Shabaab operative in Lower Shabelle,” Halbeeg, September 12, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '18
Sep '18
Aug '18