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: Saudi-led coalition denies attacking fishing boat near al Khawkhah port, southwestern al Hudaydah governorate; Hadi government forces repel al Houthi attack in al Bayda governorate; NGO warns that over 5 million children at risk of famine in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Hirshabelle state resumes ties with Somali Federal Government; SNA conducts operations against al Shabaab along coast in Lower Shabelle region; Jubbaland-SNA forces capture al Shabaab base in Gedo region; KDF bombs al Shabaab-held town in Middle Shabelle region; U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa temporarily closes in anticipation of large-scale demonstrations

Yemen Security Brief

A frigate attacked a fishing boat, killing 18 fishermen, near al Khawkha port, western Yemen on September 18. Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki rebutted media reports that accused the coalition’s navy for the attack and claimed al Houthi forces were responsible. He also announced that the Saudi-led coalition was investigating the incident. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seized al Khawkhah port, located in southern al Hudaydah governorate, in December 2017. The UAE uses it as a military base to support the ongoing offensive on al Hudaydah port city.[1]

Al Houthi forces attacked forces loyal to the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government in al Malajim district, northern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on September 19. At least 18 al Houthi and 10 Hadi government fighters died in the clashes. Hadi government forces repelled the al Houthi attack.[2]

Save the Children warned on September 18 that over five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen. The head of Save the Children Helle Thorning-Schmidt also warned that starvation may reach unprecedented levels if imports through al Hudaydah port are disrupted. The Emirati commander in charge of operations along the Red Sea coast announced the formal resumption of the offensive on al Hudaydah port city on September 18. UN humanitarian coordinator Lisa Grande announced on a September 13 statement 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.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The president of Somalia’s Hirshabelle State, Mohamed Abdi Ware, reached an agreement to restore ties with the Somali Federal Government on September 19. Ware and the presidents of Somalia’s four other federal member states suspended ties with the SFG during a summit in Kismayo on September 8. The federal member states blamed the SFG for failing to provide security and failing to equitably disburse funds among regional governments. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire led negotiations with Ware for several days before reaching an agreement. Hirshabelle is the only member state to resume ties with the SFG. Jubbaland state president Ahmed Mohamed Islan Madobe met with members of Somalia’s Upper House of Parliament in Kismayo on September 18. Prime Minister Khaire dispatched members of the Upper House to the regional states last week to mediate the dispute. Madobe reiterated his position that the SFG is disinterested in the security of the country.[4]

The Somali National Army (SNA) cleared al Shabaab from several villages along the coastal highway between Mogadishu and Mubarak town, Lower Shabelle region in recent days. The operation began in Jazira district, southwestern Mogadishu, and continued along the coastal road towards Marka, according to an SNA spokesperson. The SNA liberated the villages of Gendershe, El aq Maki, Dhanaane, and Jilib-Marka. The SNA did not state how many al Shabaab fighters were killed or captured. Al Shabaab claimed to ambush an SNA vehicle along the same coastal highway on September 19, killing or injuring all those onboard. The attack is unconfirmed.[5]

Jubbaland Security Forces and Somali National Army (SNA) forces seized an al Shabaab base near Geedweyne, Gedo region, southern Somalia on September 17. Jubbaland-SNA forces killed 11 al Shabaab fighters and destroyed two tactical vehicles. Al Shabaab killed five Jubbaland-SNA soldiers during the fight. Jubbaland-SNA forces attacked the base after learning that al Shabaab was planning an attack against Jubbaland forces.[6]

A likely Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants killed at least three children in a hospital in Sakow town, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 19. The Somali government claimed that the strike killed 12 al Shabaab militants, including senior al Shabaab official Hassan Yuqub Ali. Kenyan fighter jets carried out the airstrike, according to local media. Al Shabaab claimed that a drone conducted the attack and also hit a nearby boys’ school. Al Shabaab did not mention the death of any fighters in the airstrike. The UN has previously accused the KDF of killing dozens of children in its airstrikes in southern Somalia.[7]

The United States Embassy in Ethiopia closed down in anticipation of large-scale protests in Addis Ababa on September 19. The embassy called on all those protesting to express themselves peacefully. Ethiopian federal police commissioner Jemal Zeinu denied that any protests were expected on September 19.[8]

[1] “Eighteen fishermen killed off Yemen’s Red sea coast,” Reuters, September 18, 2018,; and “Saudi-led coalition kills 18 fishermen in al Hudaydah port city,” Alkhaleej Online, September 18, 2018,

[2] “Clashes between al Houthi forces and Hadi government forces in al Bayda,” Arabi21, September 19, 2018,

[3] “Yemen: An Additional One Million Children at Risk of Famine as Food and Fuel Prices Soar,” Save the Children, September 18, 2018,; “Yemen conflict: A million more children face famine NGO warns, BBC, September 19, 2018,; and “Save the Children warns 5 million children at risk of famine in Yemen,” CNN, September 19, 2018,

[4] “Hirshabelle’s Ware drops CIC stance, pledges collaboration to Fed. Government,” Goobjoog, September 19, 2018,; “Hirshabelle leaders says reached deal with central Govt,” Garowe, September 19, 2019,; and “Jubbaland president meets senate mediation team,” AMISOM Daily Media Monitoring, September 18, 2018,

[5] “Somali Army liberates coastal locations in Mogadishu,” AMISOM Daily Media Monitoring, September 18, 2019,; and “Shabaab claims kililng 23 Somali soldiers in 2-day period, reports enemy drone hitting hospital and school,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 19, 2018, English translation available at

[6] “Somali forces kill 11 al Shabaab militants in Gedo region,” Hiraan, September 18, 2018,; “16 killed in heavy fighting in Gedo region,” Horseed Media, September 19, 2018,; and “Nearly 20 people killed as regional forces clash with al Shabaab in Gedo,” Radio Shabelle, September 18, 2018,

[7] “3 dead as Kenya’s strike hit in Sakow hospital,” Mareeg, September 19, 2018,; “Fighter jets conduct airstrike on al-Shabaab held town in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, September 19, 2018,; “Shabaab claims kililng 23 Somali soldiers in 2-day period, reports enemy drone hitting hospital and school,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 19, 2018, English translation available at; Harun Maruf, Twitter,; and “KDF killed 6 children in Somalia, Shabaab 208: UN,” Daily Nation, June 28, 2018,

[8] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “U.S. embassy in Ethiopia defends closure over planned protests,” Africa News, September 19, 2018,

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