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: Head of southern secessionists announces that al Hudaydah offensive will not stop until city is captured; UN to sign medical air bridge agreement with Hadi government; UN envoy to Yemen meets with Hadi government vice president and Saudi ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Emirati-backed forces kill AQAP leader in Shabwah governorate; al Houthi forces kill three Saudi soldiers on Saudi-Yemeni border

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED destroys Jubbaland Security Forces vehicle near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; Kenyan police arrest two al Shabaab suspects in Eastleigh neighborhood, Nairobi; Eritrean authorities arrest former finance minister for publishing book critical of President Afwerki; Ethiopia’s main Oromo party rebrands ahead of 2020 elections

Yemen Security Brief

President of the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) Aydarus al Zubaydi announced on September 20 that the offensive on al Hudaydah port city will not stop until the city is captured.  STC leaders previously threatened to attack al Hudaydah port if the STC's demands to be included in the UN-led peace process are not met. The majority of the forces participating in the offensive on al Hudaydah are Emirati-backed southern militias. The STC does not have full command and control over those forces, however.[1]

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande told Hadi government officials that the UN will form an agreement with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to open a medical air bridge to Sana’a to evacuate sick civilians at an unspecified future date. Grande discussed the air bridge with the Hadi government deputy minister for political affairs while in Riyadh on September 20. Grande also met with Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed al Jaber on September 20. Grande reached an agreement with the al Houthi movement to open a medical air bridge to Sana’a on September 16. A Hadi government press release on September 21 claimed the UN did not sign a deal directly with the al Houthi movement despite the UN press release announcing the agreement.[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths discussed the peace process with Hadi government Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 20. Ahmar highlighted how the Hadi government delegation attended the September 6 Geneva consultations and the al Houthi movement did not. Griffiths also met with Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed al Jaber to discuss reconstruction efforts while Griffiths was in Riyadh on September 20.[3]

Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) camp and killed AQAP commander Naif al Sayari al Daiyani in the Khora area, Merkhah As Sulfa district, western Shabwah governorate on September 21. Shabwani Elite Forces also secured the district capital Nassab, neighboring Merkhah As Sulfa to the east, on September 21.[4]

Al Houthi forces killed three Saudi soldiers on the Saudi-Yemeni border, according to Saudi news reports. King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud sent his condolences to the soldier’s families on September 21.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A Jubbaland Security Forces vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by al Shabaab near Abdale-Birole villages, 45 km west of Kismayo town, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 19. The explosion killed 10 Jubbaland soldiers.[6]

Kenyan police arrested two al Shabaab suspects in Eastleigh neighborhood, Nairobi, Kenya on September 20. Kenyan security forces previously arrested two al Shabaab suspects near the Somalia border in Ijara and Liboi towns, Garissa County on September 5.[7]

Eritrean authorities arrested former Eritrean finance minister Berhane Abrehe in Asmara, Eritrea on September 17 several days after publishing a book critical of President Isaias Afwerki’s government. Eritrean authorities have not charged Berhane with any crimes and have not commented on his arrest. Eritrean authorities previously arrested Abrehe’s wife Almaz Habtemariam for helping her son leave the country for more than a year without a required exit visa. Amnesty International demanded Berhane’s immediate and unconditional release.[8]

Ethiopia’s Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) changed its name and logo at a delegates' conference in Jimma, Oromia state, Ethiopia on September 20. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is the party chair, and vice chair and president of Oromia state Lemma Megersa announced that the OPDO is officially renamed the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP). The party also retired 14 senior officials during the conference. The ODP is part of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition which has governed Ethiopia since the end of its civil war in 1991. Abiy Ahmed became Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state when he took power this past spring. The two main Oromo opposition parties, the Oromo Federalist Congress and the previously outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, announced a merger earlier this month in anticipation of the 2020 presidential elections.[9]

[1]“Yemen separatist leader says that al Hudaydah offensive will not stop,” Reuters, September 20, 2018,
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[2] “Grande denies signing an agreement with the militia on the airlift of patients and confirms that an agreement will be signed with the government,” Saba New, September 20, 2018,; “Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Meets UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen,” SPA, September 20, 2018,; and “Yemen: UN to sign aid arrangements with internationally-recognized government,” Asharq al Awsat, September 21, 2018,


[3] “Saudi envoy highlights Coalition’s support of humanitarian operations in Yemen,” Arab News, September 20, 2018,; and “Vice President of the Republic meets the UN Secretary-General's envoy to Yemen,” Saba New, September 20, 2018,

[4] “Yemeni army kills prominent al Qaeda leader,” Al Arabiya, September 21, 2018,; “Shabwani Elite Forces kills prominent al Qaeda leader,” 7adramout, September 21, 2018,; and “Shabwani Elite Forces are securing the city of Nassab in Shabwah governorate,” Aden Lang, September 21, 2018,  

[5] Twitter,  Emirate of Jazan, September 21, 2018,; and “Three Saudi soldiers killed in clashes with al Houthi forces on the border with Saudi Arabia,” Yemen Akhbar, September 21, 2018,

[6] “Ten Jubbaland soldiers killed in landmine attack near Kismayo,” Halbeeg, September 19, 2018,

[7] “Two al Shabaab suspects arrested in Eastleigh,” The Star, September 21, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 6, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 6, 2018,

[8] Salem Solomon, “Former top Eritrean official arrested after criticizing president,” Voice of America, September 20, 2018,; “Security agents in Asmara arrested Mr. Berhane Abrehe,” Asmarino, September 18, 2018,; and “Eritrea: Release former finance minister immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty International, September 19, 2018,

[9] Daniel Mumbere, “Ethiopia’s Oromo party changes name, logo ahead of 2020 vote,” Africa News, September 20, 2018,; “The 9th Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO),” Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, September 19, 2018,

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