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: Emirati-backed forces kill AQAP commander in Shabwah governorate; UN warns Yemen near tipping point approaching famine; Saudi-led coalition to open humanitarian corridors in al Hudaydah; monitoring group reports significant civilian casualties from clashes in al Hudaydah

Horn of Africa: Somali President Farmajo suspends trip to U.S. due to domestic political crisis; U.S. airstrike kills 18 al Shabaab militants near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; Puntland Security Force kills 12 al Shabaab militants in Galgala mountains, Puntland; KDF troops arrest al Shabaab IED experts near Kismayo; likely Salafi-Jihadi militants kill 12 villagers in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique; Ethiopian police carry out mass arrest of youths in Addis Ababa

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) camp and killed AQAP commander Abu Qaqaa and seven other AQAP members in the Khora area, Merkhah As Sulfa district, western Shabwah governorate on September 22. Three Shabwani Elite Forces troops died in the clashes. AQAP claimed to repel Shabwani Elite Forces from the Khora area on September 23. Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces also raided an AQAP camp in the Khora area and killed AQAP commander Naif al Sayari al Daiyani on September 21.[1]

UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock warned on September 21 that the humanitarian situation in Yemen has significantly deteriorated in recent weeks. Lowcock also stated that Yemen is approaching a “tipping point” into widespread famine. The head of Care International Johan Mooij also warned on September 14 that food supply in Yemen is currently only enough to sustain the population for two to three months if imports through al Hudaydah port are disrupted.[2]

Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki announced on September 23 that the coalition is working with the UN to establish humanitarian corridors between al Hudaydah and Sana’a to facilitate the delivery of aid for civilians. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seized positions along the main road linking the capital Sana’a to the al Hudaydah port city on September 12.[3]

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) monitoring group warned on September 24 that at least 349 civilians were killed in the offensive on al Hudaydah port city since June 2018. ACLED revealed on September 15 that al Hudaydah accounted for 51 percent of all civilian casualties in Yemen between June and August 2018. The head of Save the Children Helle Thorning-Schmidt also warned that civilian casualties in al Hudaydah increased over the past two years, from 129 in 2016 to 571 in between January and August in 2018. Schmidt vowed that she will urge world leaders at the UN General Assembly on September 24 to defend international humanitarian law in Yemen and pressure the warring parties to negotiate an immediate ceasefire[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo canceled his trip to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on September 23 in order to handle a domestic political crisis between the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and Somalia’s Federal Member States. Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad is scheduled to deliver Farmajo’s speech at the UN General Assembly in the president’s stead. Farmajo intends to mediate an ongoing crisis in Galmudug state, where opposing parliamentary factions have attempted to oust each other in recent weeks. Somalia’s five Federal Member States suspended ties with the SFG on September 8, citing the SFG’s failure to handle Somalia’s security, its unfair disbursement of funds, and its meddling in member states’ affairs. One of the states, Hirshabelle, reached a deal with the SFG to reinstate ties on September 19.[5]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike in defense of U.S. and Somali special forces 50 km northwest of Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 21. The airstrike killed 18 Al Shabaab militants. Puntland Security Force soldiers killed 12 al Shabaab militants and injured several others in the Galgala mountains, northern Somalia on September 23. Puntland soldiers conducted operations in Madarshoon, Karin Haragod, Maridle, Dindigle, and Harweyn villages of Galgala mountains. Puntland Security Force soldiers also detained multiple al Shabaab and ISIS suspects in Boosaaso and Galkayo towns on September 23.[6]

Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) troops killed 10 al Shabaab militants in Lamu county, northeastern Kenya on September 24. Al Shabaab injured three KDF soldiers during the assault.  KDF special forces and SNA troops also captured three al Shabaab Improvised Explosive Device (IED) experts three miles south of Kismayo airport, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on September 24. The Kenyan-Somali forces intercepted a vehicle and arrested the three al Shabaab militants. The KDF soldiers also defused an IED which the militants had planned to detonate at a military base in the area.[7]

Likely Salafi-jihadi militants disguised as soldiers killed twelve villagers and injured fourteen in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique on September 21. The assailants shot ten villagers and burnt two others to death.[8]

Ethiopian security agents arrested over 1,500 young men in Addis Ababa over the past week. The government claimed the arrests were part of a crackdown on rising crime. Supporters of former rebel groups, the Oromo Liberation Front and Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), clashed in Addis Ababa on September 13. The government announced on September 23 that 28 people had been killed in those clashes.  Ethiopian police arrested two PG7 officials during the course of the arrests.[9]


[1] “Emirati-backed Shabwani forces raids AQAP camp,” Yafa News, September 23, 2018,; and “Three Shabwani Elite Forces killed in clashes with AQAP,” Al Mashhad al Araby, September 23, 2018,
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[2] “Yemen: we are losing the fight against famine UN Humanitarian Chief, OCHA, September 21, 2018,; and “Steady increase in airstrikes forces more displacement and renews concerns about aid blockages, Care International, September 14, 2018,; and “Deadly Yemen famine could strike at any time warns UN boss, The Guardian, September 24, 2018,

[3] “Arab coalition to open humanitarian corridors for civilians in Yemen’s al Hudaydah,” Al Arabiya, September 23, 2018,; and “Coalition says to open humanitarian corridors from Yemen’s al Hudaydah, The Daily Star, September 24, 2018,

[4] “Civilian casualties soar in Yemen’s al Hudaydah since devastating offensive that began in June,” Reliefweb, September 24, 2018,; and “Yemen: civilian casualties soar in al Hudaydah since devastating offensive began in June,” Save the Children, September 24, 2018,

[5] “Somali president cancels planned U.S. trip,” Hiraan, September 23, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review: September 10, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 10, 2018,; and “Hirshabelle leader says reached deal with central govt,” Garowe, September 19, 2018,

[6] “U.S., allied forces attacked in Somalia: Pentagon,” News24, last modified September 24 2018,; and “12 al Shabaab fighters killed in Puntland state,” Halbeeg, September 23, 2018,

[7]  “Kenyan: Army kills 10 Al Shabaab militants,” AA, September 24 2018, .; Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “KDF Special Forces Capture 3 Al-Shabaab IED Experts near Kismayo New Airport, Defuse IED,” Strategic Intelligence, September 24 2018,

[8] “12 killed, 14 wounded in Mozambique jihadist attacks,” AFP, September 21 2018,

[9] “Arrests Perplex Addis Abeba Residents as City Police Say it is Conducting Crackdown on Rising Crime,” Addis Standard, September 24 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: September 14, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 14, 2018,

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