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: UN Human Rights Council extends mandate of Group of Eminent  Experts in Yemen despite objections; UN Special Envoy to Yemen announces confidence-building measures for future consultations; Saudi air defense system intercepts drone in Aden, southern Yemen; President Hadi meets with UN General Secretary

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab bombs Kenyan military truck in Mandera County; Somali NISA captures al Shabaab bombmaker; Puntland forces respond to dispute with prison guards; Puntland military court sentences al Shabaab and ISIS militants; Kenyan government offers amnesty to al Shabaab members

Yemen Security Brief

The UN Human Rights Council voted to extend the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts for one year to investigate alleged human rights violations and war crimes in Yemen despite strong objections from Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government on September 28. Twenty-one nations voted in favor, eight objected, and 21 abstained from voting. Saudi-led coalition members criticized an August 2018 report prepared by a UN human rights mission that accused the coalition of inflicting huge civilian casualties in Yemen on September 28. Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki also criticized the inaccuracy of the information in the report and claimed that the report failed to mention Iran’s role in Yemen and continued violations by the al Houthi movement against the Yemeni people and Saudi Arabia. The Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government announced on September 27 that it will end its cooperation with a UN human rights mission and that it will not extend its mandate, accusing the commission of bias in its reporting.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Michael Griffiths announced a plan to restart peace talks between the al Houthi movement and the Hadi government on September 28. The plan would introduce a set of confidence-building measures within a week that include the reopening of Sana’a airport, prisoner swaps, and payment of civil service salaries. Griffiths confirmed that both parties to the conflict assured him of their commitment to reconvene and their belief that there is no solution to the conflict in Yemen other than the UN-led consultations. The al Houthi delegation did not attend planned September 6 consultations in Geneva.[2]

A Saudi-led coalition Patriot missile defense system intercepted and destroyed an Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) fired by al Houthi forces over Aden city, southern Yemen on September 27. Anti-al Houthi sources claimed that the drone was Iranian-made.[3]

President Hadi met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the UN Secretariat on September 27. Hadi and Guterres discussed the situation in Yemen and confirmed their commitment to supporting UN efforts to achieve a peaceful comprehensive political solution between all parties in Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for bombing a Kenyan military truck in Mandera County, Kenya on September 28. The group claims the explosion resulted in over a dozen Somali National Army (SNA) casualties.[5]

The National Intelligence and Security Agency of Somalia (NISA) reportedly apprehended an al Shabaab bombmaker on September 27. The explosives expert was taken from an area of Mogadishu formerly controlled by al Shabaab during an overnight operation. No casualties or injuries were reported from the operation.[6]

Puntland security forces have launched multiple security operations in Boosaaso and Garowe since September 27. A major security operation is underway in Boosaaso following several killings and clashes among multiple security groups. An armed confrontation on September 27 killed three people, two civilians and a prisoner, following clashes between prison guards and Puntland security forces. Security forces took over the facility from prison guards who were dissatisfied with their wages.[7]

The Kenyan government offered amnesty to Kenyan members of al Shabaab. The offer requires the al Shabaab members to come forward, surrender, and denounce the group within a three-month period to receive a pardon. The program is targeted toward youth in northeastern Kenya. The Kenyan government issued similar amnesty offers following the deaths of al Shabaab leaders in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 offer followed the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane, al Shabaab’s late emir. Kenya also offered pardons in 2015 after the death Adnan Gonar, the suspected mastermind behind the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack that killed 67 people.[8]

A military court in Puntland, northern Somalia sentenced six militants with links to al Shabaab and the Islamic State on September 28. Three of the six men were sentenced to death. The other three were sentenced to life in prison.[9]

[1] “Coalition criticizes UN Yemen rights mission,” Gulf News, September 28, 2018,; “Saudi-led coalition criticizes UN Yemen rights mission,” Arab News, September 28, 2018,; “HRC extend mandate of Group of Eminent for one year in Yemen,” Twitter, September 28, 2018,; and “UN rights council renews Yemen war crimes probe,” The Nation, September 28, 2018,

[2] “Sana’a airport could be reopened soon: UN envoy to Yemen,” Al Jazeera, September 28, 2018,; and “UN envoy announces plan to restart Yemen peace talks,” The Guardian, September 28, 2018,

[3] “Saudi-led coalition intercept a drone in Aden,” Okaz, September 28, 2018,; “Saudi-led coalition’s patriot defense system intercept a drone in Aden,” Aden Lang, September 27, 2018,;“Video of Saudi-led coalition’s patriot defense system intercept a drone in Aden,” Aden Lang, September 27, 2018,; and “Saudi-led coalition’s defense system intercept a drone in Aden,” Yemen Alghad, September 28, 2018,   

[4] “President Hadi meets with UN Secretary General,” Saba New, September 27, 2018,

[5] “Shabaab claims bombing Kenyan military truck in Kenya’s Mandera county, inflicting over a dozen casualties to SNA in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 28 2018, translation available by subscription at

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, September 28 2018, 4:13 AM,

[7] “Security Operations Underway in Bosaso And Garowe,” AMISOM Daily Media Monitoring, September 28 2018,

[8] Schmuel Yosef Agnon, “Kenya Offers Amnesty to Al-Shabaab Defectors,” Intelligence Briefs, September 28 2018,; “Kenya offers amnesty to Al-Shabaab defectors,” Halbeeg, September 28 2018,; ‘Somalia offers al-Shabaab members amnesty,” CNN, September 3 2014,; Moses Wasamu, “Kenyan government offers amnesty to al-Shabaab sympathizers,” World, April 20 2015,   

[9] Schmuel Yosef Agnon, “Puntland Military Court Sentences ISIL and Al-Shabaab Militants to Death,” Intelligence Briefs, September 28 2018,; “Somalia: Puntland court sentences 3 militants to death,” Horseed Media, September 27 2018,

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