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 envoy to Yemen discusses confidence building measures with al Houthi leadership; reported U.S.-manufactured bombs hit civilians over course of Yemen war; Emirati commander announces resumption of offensive on al Hudaydah port city; Hadi government forces attack hometown of al Houthi leader in Sa’ada governorate

Horn of Africa: Saudi Arabia hosts Eritrean and Djiboutian presidents for reconciliation summit; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting Kenyan AMISOM forces in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and al Houthi movement leader Abdel Malik al Houthi agreed on steps to hold future peace talks, according to al Houthi spokesperson Mohamad Abdul Salam. Griffiths’ office announced he discussed confidence building measures with al Houthi leadership, members of the Sana’a-based GPC party, and the al Houthi negotiating delegation while in Sana’a on September 16 and 17.[1]

A CNN report revealed that the Saudi-led coalition used U.S.-made bombs in several airstrikes between 2015 and 2018 that hit civilians and civilian infrastructure. Yemen-based human rights group Mwatana provided CNN with the data. A separate August 2018 CNN investigation found remnants of a U.S.-made bomb at the scene of an airstrike that killed approximately 40 schoolchildren in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen. 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 the risk of harm to civilians resulting from military operations.[2]

Emirati Brigadier General Ali al Tunaiji, the head of the Saudi-led coalition's Red Sea coast offensive, announced the formal resumption of an offensive to seize al Hudaydah city on September 17. Tunaiji stated that Yemeni forces will attempt to secure more positions along the road that connects Sana’a to al Hudaydah, located east of the city, and simultaneously advance into southern neighborhoods. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces resumed an offensive on al Hudaydah port city on September 7 after the al Houthi delegation did not attend the September 6 UN Geneva consultations.[3]

Hadi government forces advanced against al Houthi forces in Maran village in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen, according to Saudi and Emirati news reports. Maran is the hometown of al Houthi movement leader Abdel Malik al Houthi. The commander of the Hadi government’s Third Brigade Major General Abdul Karim al Sudai said that Hadi government forces made progress towards the areas of Jorf Salman, northern Maran on September 18. Al Sudai claimed that Hadi government forces kill more than 1,300 al Houthi forces in the last 10 days. Hadi government forces began assaulting the village of Maran in Sa’ada governorate from four positions on August 22.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki met with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during a reconciliation summit on September 17. The summit marks the first meeting between the Eritrean and Djiboutian leaders in years. Djibouti and Eritrea agreed to normalize relations during a regional meeting with Somali and Ethiopian foreign ministers on September 6. Djibouti severed ties with Eritrea in 2007 over a border dispute regarding the Ras Doumeira peninsula and island.[5]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Kenyan AMISOM forces near Dhobley town in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 16. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate an IED targeting Kenyan AMISOM forces on the road between Dhobley and Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, on September 17. Al Shabaab claimed to kill and injure over fifteen Kenyan and Somali soldiers in the September 17 attack.[6] 

[1] “UN Envoy leaves Yemen after 3 day talks with al Houthi,” Anadolu Agency, September 18, 2018,; and “UN Envoy leaves Yemen after peace process with al Houthi,” Xinhua, September 18, 2018,

[2] “Made in America,” CNN, September 17, 2018,

[3] “Saudi-led coalition launches major operation to recapture Yemen port city,” CNN, September 18, 2018,; and “Saudi-UAE alliance launches fresh offensive on Yemen’s al Hudaydah, Al jazeera, September 18, 2018,; and “Coalition: Yemen forces renew al Hudaydah assault,” Gulf News, September 18, 2018,

[4] “Hadi government forces approach the tomb of Hussein al Houthi in Maran,” Al Arabiya, September 18, 2018,; and “At least 1000 al Houthis killed in Marran,” 26sep News, September 18, 2018,

[5] Daniel Mumbere, “Eritrea Djibouti leaders hold historic meeting in Saudi Arabia,” Africa News, September 17 2018,

[6] “Shabaab Claims Bombing Kenyan Military Vehicles in Lower Juba, Assassination Attempt on Somalia MP in Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 17 2018, available at

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