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: Al Houthi movement offers ceasefire to Saudi Arabia; al Houthi officials reportedly warn Saudi Arabia of impending Iranian strike; anti-al Houthi media claims al Houthi commanders killed in airstrikes; al Houthi movement claims Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills civilians

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab raids SNA base in Lower Shabelle region; Islamic State in Somalia releases photos of recruits in Puntland; Ethiopia arrests dozens of al Shabaab and Islamic State fighters throughout country; AMISOM forces withdraw from two bases in Hiraan region; Somali pirates free Iranian hostage

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement offered a ceasefire to Saudi Arabia on September 20, six days after the al Houthi movement claimed responsibility for an attack on Saudi oil facilities. Al Houthi official Mahdi al Mashat called for a halt to cross-border strikes by both sides in addition to negotiations and a national reconciliation aimed at ending Yemen’s civil war. UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths welcomed the al Houthi offer. Saudi officials expressed skepticism. The al Houthi movement threatened additional attacks against Saudi Arabia in the event that the Saudis should reject the offer.[1]

 Al Houthi officials recently warned Saudi and US officials that Iran is planning a new attack on Saudi Arabia, according to a Wall Street Journal report. US officials have accused Iran of being behind a September 14 drone and missile attack on Saudi ARAMCO facilities that the al Houthi movement claimed. Some al Houthi officials disagree about how closely to align with Iran and fear that additional Iranian strikes against Saudi Arabia would run counter to al Houthi interests, according to the report. Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam denied on September 21 that the group had warned foreign diplomats about any Iranian attacks.[2]

Anti-al Houthi media claimed that the al Houthi movement held a funeral on September 22 for two senior commanders killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. Anti-al Houthi media claimed that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed Major General Mohammed Ali Hussein Dabash, commander of al Houthi forces in al Bayda, and Brigadier General Ahmed Yahya Hadi Sharweid on September 18.[3]

Al Houthi media claimed that the Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes in Amran governorate in northern Yemen on September 23, killing seven civilians. The Saudi-led coalition has not commented on the claim.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided a Somali National Army (SNA) base in El Salin village outside of Marka, the capital of Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, on September 22. Al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) before storming the base. Al Shabaab militants briefly held the base and killed at least 20 SNA soldiers in the attack.[5]

The Islamic State in Somalia released photos of recruits at a training camp in the Bari Mountains of Somalia’s northern Puntland State on September 21. The images, which the group claims were taken at its “Dawoud al Somali” camp, show up to 17 militants training.[6]

Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) announced the arrest of dozens of al Shabaab and Islamic State in Somalia militants in multiple locations around the country on September 21. The militants are accused of planning attacks throughout Ethiopia. The arrests occurred in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, as well as in Moyale city near the Kenyan border and in the eastern Somali Region. The NISS said it received intelligence support from the US, Italy, France, Spain, Djibouti, the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, and the government in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland State.[7]

Djiboutian forces serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) withdrew from two of their three bases around Jalalaqsi town in Somalia’s central Hiraan region on September 22. The withdrawals follow disputes between Djibouti’s AMISOM contingent and the local government in Hiraan.[8]

Somali pirates released an Iranian sailor, Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh, in mid-September after holding him captive for four years. Panahandeh was ill and his release was secured on humanitarian grounds. Somali pirates are still holding three Iranian nationals hostage.[9]

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

[1] “Yemen’s Houthis propose to Saudi Arabia that both sides halt missile strikes,” Reuters, September 20, 2019,; “The Houthis Threaten Riyadh with more Painful Attacks if Their Initiative is Rejected,” Al Jazeera, September 21, 2019اليمن-الحوثيون-السعودية-عبد-الملك-الحوثي-الأمم-المتحدة; and “UN Welcomes Yemen Rebels’ Offer to Halt Attacks on Saudi Arabia,” Deutsche Welle, September 22, 2019

[2] Dion Nissenbaum, “Yemeni Rebels Warn Iran Plans Another Strike Soon,” The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2019,

[3] “Houthi militia recognizes the death of two of its most important leaders,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, September 23, 2019,

[4] “Coalition airstrikes kill 7 civilians in Amran,” Yemen Akhbar, September 23, 2019,

[5] Harun Maruf, “Al-Shabab Attack Kills 20 Somali Soldiers,” Voice of America, September 22, 2019,

[6] Caleb Weiss, “Islamic State trains in Somalia’s Puntland,” Long War Journal, September 22, 2019,

[7] “Ethiopian Intelligence Says It Arrests Dozens of Suspected Al-Shabaab, ISIS Members ‘Planning To Carry Out Attacks’,” Addis Standard, September 23, 2019,

[8] “AMISOM forces vacate positions in Jalalaqsi, Hiiraan region,” Goobjoog, September 22, 2019,

[9] “Iranian hostage freed by Somali pirates after four years,” BBC News, September 21, 2019,

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