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: Tribal militia fights STC-aligned forces in Lahij; Saudi-led coalition destroys al Houthi boat in Red Sea; IED attacks in Hadramawt kill Saudi soldiers and an officer

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases speech by Emir; Ethiopia reportedly arrests al Shabaab militant linked to 1998 East Africa embassy bombings

Yemen Security Brief

Militia fighters from the Sabeha tribes clashed with forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, in Lahij governorate in southern Yemen on September 19. Sabeha tribesmen intercepted STC-aligned forces that were trying to attack areas controlled by forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, according to anti-STC media. STC-aligned forces were attempting to attack the 4th Jabali Infantry Brigade in neighboring Taiz governorate, according to these reports. The Sabeha tribes recently pledged to prevent the passage of any forces between Taiz and Lahij.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition intercepted an al Houthi unmanned explosive boat in the Red Sea near al Hudaydah port city in western Yemen on September 19. The Saudi coalition subsequently conducted strikes against four al Houthi boat assembly sites in the area of al Hudaydah on September 20. The al Houthi movement claimed that the strikes were a violation of the Stockholm Agreement, a UN-brokered accord that calls for a ceasefire in al Hudaydah.[2]

Unidentified militants detonated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in two locations in Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen on September 19. Militants detonated an IED in Shibam district that killed two Saudi soldiers and a Saudi Colonel in charge of Saudi-led coalition forces in Wadi Hadramawt. Militants detonated another IED targeting a bus traveling between al ‘Abr district and the Saudi border in northern Hadramawt. The attack killed two Saudi soldiers and three Yemeni civilians.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s al Kata’ib Media Foundation released an audio speech of the group’s Emir, Ahmad Umar aka Abu Ubaidah, on September 19. The 20-minute recording is Abu Ubaidah’s first first audio message since 2016. Abu Ubaidah criticized the US, UK, and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)  for their respective roles in Somalia and called on Somali Muslims to support al Shabaab. He also discussed regional issues, including a recent election in Jubbaland State, a semi-autonomous region in southern Somalia, as well as an ongoing diplomatic dispute between Kenya and the Somali Federal Government.[4]

Ethiopian authorities arrested an al Shabaab militant, Edhamen Abdo, at Bole International Airport in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in mid-September, according to the website Africa Intelligence. Ethiopian authorities accuse Abdo of planning attacks on 10 sites in Ethiopia. Authorities also suspect that he is linked to al Qaeda’s 1998 bombings of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.[5]

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Ethiopia storystreams.

[1] “The STC is moving towards Taiz, and the Sabeha tribes intervene”, al Mashhad al Yemeni, September 20, 2019,

[2] “Saudi-led Coalition Launches Operation Near Yemeni Port City Hodeida” Deutsche Wells, September 20, 2019; and “Yemeni Houthis Accuse Saudi-led Coalition of ‘Dangerous Escalation’” Reuters, September 20, 2019

[3] “The killing of a Saudi military commander in the rank of colonel and his soldiers in Hadramout,” Al Jazeera, September 19, 2019,

[4] “Shabaab Leader Urges Somali Muslims Support It Over Government, Confront Enemy Over Alleged Annexation Attempts,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 19, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[5] “Is mastermind of US embassy attacks under arrest?” Africa Intelligence, September 20, 2019,,108373524-gra.

View Citations
Arrow down red
Oct '19
Sep '19
Aug '19