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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition provides humanitarian assistance to tribe in Hajjah governorate; Islamic State in Yemen targets AQAP in al Bayda governorate; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi airbase near Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab assassinates Somalia’s Deputy Attorney General in Mogadishu; Ethiopian Prime Minister meets with former Somali rebel leaders in Addis Ababa; Burundian President calls for summit to address drawdown of Burundian forces in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition conducted an airdrop of relief materials and medical supplies to the Hajour tribe in the Kushar district of eastern Hajjah governorate in western Yemen on February 19. The Hajour tribe began an uprising against the al Houthi movement along a critical supply route in Hajjah governorate on January 24.[1]

The Islamic State in Yemen targeted an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) vehicle with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Dhi Kalib al Asfal village in northwestern al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on February 19.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes on the al Houthi-controlled Daylami Airbase in the Bani Hashish district north of Sana’a city in central Yemen on January 20. The airstrikes were part of an ongoing air campaign to degrade al Houthi drone capabilities.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants assassinated the Somali Federal Government (SFG) Deputy Attorney General, Mohamed Mursal, in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on February 20. Al Shabaab militants also attacked a patrol of Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces with two IEDs in Bardhere town in Gedo region, southern Somalia on February 20. The IEDs destroyed an armored personnel carrier. The number of casualties is unknown.[4]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and members of the ruling party’s executive committee met with a leadership delegation of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a former rebel group, in Addis Ababa on February 20. This is the first official meeting between the Ethiopian government and the ONLF since the two parties signed a peace agreement in 2018.[5]

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called for an urgent summit of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop-contributing countries on February 20 in order to review the decision to withdraw 1,000 Burundian troops by the end of February. Burundi receives compensation for its participation in AMISOM and has opposed the withdrawal of its troops. The African Union has already determined which units will be withdrawn, according to Ugandan media.[6]

Visit our Yemen and Somalia story streams.


[1] “Governor of Hajjah reveals the nature of support given by the coalition to the tribe of Hajour through an airdrop,” al Mashhad al Yemeni, February 20, 2019, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/127491; and “Threat Update: Situation Report - February 6, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 6, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/threat-update/al-shabaab-is-planning-attacks-against-westerners-in-kenya.

[2] Gilles N., Twitter, February 20, 2019, https://twitter.com/VegetaMoustache/status/1098223727505035266.

[3] “Coalition fighters launch air raids on al Dilmi air base and Houthi positions in Sana’a,” Sahafa Net, February 20, 2019, https://sahafahnet.net/show6151792.html; “Two violent explosions north of Sana’a,” Mareb Press, February 20, 2019, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=147904.

[4] Harun Maruf, Twitter, February 20, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1098219830661054470; and “Dual explosions hit African Union troops on board in Somalia,” Mareeg, February 20, 2019, https://mareeg.com/dual-explosions-hit-african-union-troops-on-board-in-somalia/.

[5] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ethiopia PM meets leaders of ex-Ogaden rebels in Addis Ababa,” Africa News, February 20, 2019, http://www.africanews.com/2019/02/20/ethiopia-pm-meets-leaders-of-ex-ogaden-rebels-in-addis-ababa/.

[6] “Burundi urges summit over troop drawdown plan in Somalia,” Daily Monitor, February 20, 2019, https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Burundi-urges-summit-over-troop-drawdown-plan-Somalia/688334-4990150-13qop9lz/index.html.

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Yemen: Al Houthi movement and Hadi government agree on initial phase of withdrawal from al Hudaydah city; Saudi special forces conduct two raids against AQAP in Hadramawt governorate; al Houthi forces target Saudi army in southern Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles; Hadi government forces secure district in al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenya recalls Somali ambassador over disputed oil blocks; AMISOM commanders agree on new phase of operations; Sudanese parliamentarians cancel meeting to amend constitution amid protests

Yemen Security Brief

A UN spokesperson announced on February 17 that Hadi government and al Houthi movement agreed on the implementation of the first phase of the redeployment of forces from al Hudaydah city in accordance with the UN-brokered Stockholm agreement. Representatives from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement met with UN monitoring team leader Michael Lollesgaard on February 16 and 17 in al Hudaydah city in western Yemen. The first phase includes the withdrawal of all Hadi government and al Houthi forces from Saleef and Ras Issa ports north of al Hudaydah city. Griffiths stated that the second phase will include the withdrawal of all forces from al Hudaydah port and parts of al Hudaydah city deemed critical to humanitarian access.[1]

Saudi special forces and unidentified Yemeni security forces conducted two raids targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen on January 7 and February 7, 2019, according to the Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki. One of the raids targeted the house of an AQAP field commander. Saudi forces arrested six militants of different nationalities and captured 350 million Yemeni riyals in the raid. Saudi forces also recovered weapons and explosives of Iranian origin in the raid, according to Maliki.[2]

Al Houthi forces fired approximately ten Zilzal-1 ballistic missiles targeting the Saudi army in the Jizan region of southern Saudi Arabia on February 16. Al Houthi forces also launched missiles and shelled Saudi forces in Jizan region and Asir region, also in southern Saudi Arabia, on February 18.[3]

Hadi government forces seized al Husha district in al Dhaleh governorate in central Yemen for the first time since the conflict began on February 18, according to the Yemeni Defense Ministry. The 30th Armored Brigade and popular resistance fighters began clashing with al Houthi forces on February 9. Al Houthi forces withdrew on February 13. Hadi government forces said they will continue to advance towards al Sabrah district in neighboring Ibb governorate.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

 The Kenyan government recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu on February 16 after accusing the Somali Federal Government (SFG) of auctioning oil blocks in a disputed maritime territory at a conference in London on February 7. Kenya also instructed the Somali ambassador to Nairobi to return to Somalia. The Somali government denied that it auctioned oil blocks in the disputed territory and released maps from the auction to corroborate this statement.[5]

Commanders from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) agreed on new operations and priorities under its new Concept of Operations (CONOPs) on February 16. AMISOM’s operations will support the Somalia Transition Plan, target al Shabaab hideouts, and enhance protection of population centers.[6]

The Sudanese parliamentary committee tasked with amending the constitution to allow President Omar al Bashir to run for another term in 2020 canceled its meeting scheduled for February 17. Protestors have been demonstrating against Bashir’s regime and calling for him to step down since December 2018. The Arab League also stated that it has not been asked to intervene in Sudan or lend support to the al Bashir government on February 17. The Arab League called the protests an “internal affair” in the same statement.[7]


[1] “Meeting of the redeployment coordination committee,” UN Secretary General, February 17, 2019, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/note-correspondents/2019-02-17/meeting-of-the-redeployment-coordination-committee; “Yemen War: Parties agree Hudaydah port withdrawal plan,” BBC, February 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47277992; and OSE Yemen, Twitter, February 19, 2019, https://twitter.com/OSE_Yemen/status/1097878338922795008.

[2] “Al-Maliki: The coalition carried out two security operations targeting al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” 7adramout, February 19, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/alwahdawi/2253995/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AC%D9%84--%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D9%86%D9%81%D8%B0-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D9%88%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%B8%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D8%B6%D8%B1%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AA.html; and “The coalition reviews the threat of the Houthi militias a terrorist organizations to the Yemeni people,” Saudi Press Agency, February 18, 2019, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php?lang=ar&newsid=1887381.  

[3] “Houthi forces unleash massive missile attack on southern Saudi Arabia,” Al Masdar News, February 16, 2019, https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/houthi-forces-unleash-massive-missile-attack-on-southern-saudi-arabia/?campaign=steempress&utm=dailybrief; “Artillery and Zilzal-1 rockets down gatherings of Saudi soldiers in Jizan and Asir,” 26 September.net, February 18, 2019, https://www.26sep.net/news_details.php?sid=150545.

[4] “The army forces complete the liberation of the Directorate of Hisha in Dhaleh,” September26.net, February 18, 2019 http://www.26sepnews.net/2019/02/17/1-2556/; "Violent confrontations followed the arrest of tribesman and supporters of an attack on the al Houthi militia in the district of Al-Husha in al Dhaleh," Khabar News Agency, February 17, 2019, https://www.khabaragency.net/news107496.html.  

[5] “Somalia moves to calm diplomatic tensions with Kenya,” Voice of America, February 18, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/somalia-moves-to-calm-diplomatic-tensions-with-kenya/4790876.html; Harun Maruf, Twitter, February 17, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1097245909145006082.

[6] “AMISOM commanders reach a consensus on military operations,” AMISOM, February 16, 2019, http://amisom-au.org/2019/02/amisom-commanders-reach-a-consensus-on-military-operations/.

[7] “Arab League says Sudan’s protests ‘internal affair’,” Sudan Tribune, February 18, 2019, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article67087; and “Sudan lawmakers cancel meeting on constitutional changes,” Voice Of America, February 17, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/sudan-lawmakers-cancel-meeting-on-constitutional-changes/4790597.html.

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition accuses al Houthi movement of delaying implementation of Stockholm Agreement; al Houthi fighters target Saudi troops with ballistic missile in southern Saudi Arabia; U.S. Secretary of State meets with Yemeni Foreign Minister in Warsaw

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab shells U.S. air base in southern Somalia; unknown fighter jets strike al Shabaab near El Adde

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition released a statement reaffirming its commitment to redeploying forces from  al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen in accordance with the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement on February 14. The statement also called on the UN to pressure the al Houthi movement to implement the agreement, which the al Houthi movement and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government signed in December 2018. The coalition claimed that the al Houthi movement is delaying the implementation of the agreement in order to build up military capabilities in al Hudaydah.[1]

Al Houthi fighters claimed to target Saudi troops with a Zilzal 1 ballistic missile in al Ajashar desert in Najran region in southern Saudi Arabia on February 15. Al Houthi fighters also shelled Saudi troops in Sawah area in Najran region and al Rabwa in Asir region in southern Saudi Arabia. Al Houthi fighters attempted to raid Saudi positions in al Rabwa but failed, according to al Houthi media[2]

Hadi government Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani met with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on February 14 during the international summit on Iran in Warsaw, Poland. Al Yamani stated that the Hadi government seeks to resolve the Yemen crisis by “curbing Iranian expansionism.”[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab attacked Somali National Army (SNA) and U.S. forces with mortars at Baledogle Air Base near Wanlaweyn town in Lower Shabelle region in southern  Somalia on February 15. Al Shabaab claimed to kill three U.S. soldiers in the attack, but United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) denied the claim.[4]

Unknown fighter jets conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab militants near El Adde town in Gedo region in southern Somalia on February 14. The airstrike destroyed three vehicles and killed at least 13 militants.[5]

Visit our Yemen and Somalia story streams.


[1] “A Statement by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen Regarding Hodeida Governorate,” Saudi Press Agency, February 14, 2019, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1885663#1885663.

[2] “The quality operations are artillery shelling and missile launched at enemy concentrations,” Saba, February 15, 2019, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news526681.htm.

[3] “Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting With Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al Yamani,” U.S. Department of State, February 14, 2019, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2019/02/289479.htm; Khaled Alyemeny, Twitter, February 14, 2019, https://twitter.com/KhaledAlyemany/status/1096030081871499264.

[4] “Secret US base in Somalia comes under attack by al Shabaab,” Mareeg, February 15, 2019, https://mareeg.com/secret-us-base-in-somalia-comes-under-attack-by-al-shabaab/; “UPDATE: Shabaab claims killing 3 U.S. soldiers in shelling of U.S. base in Baledogle airfield, attacks on Somali soldiers in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 15, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Jeff Seldin, Twitter, February 15, 2019, https://twitter.com/jseldin/status/1096519947877056512.

[5] “Deadly strike hits Islamist fighters on board in Somalia,” Mareeg, February 14, 2019, https://mareeg.com/deadly-strike-hits-islamist-fighters-on-board-in-somalia/.

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