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: U.S. Secretary of Defense meets with Saudi leadership about war in Yemen; Human Rights Watch condemns the al Houthi-Saleh faction’s use of prohibited anti-personnel mines; UAE announces second training for Shabwani Elite counterterrorism units in eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: KDF forces fire mortars at civilian areas near Kenyan-Somali border; UN and Emirati humanitarian organizations vow to continue aid distribution in Somalia despite al Shabaab attacks

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that overcoming Iran’s “efforts to destabilize” Yemen is an American priority during a statement to reporters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 19. Secretary Mattis met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the Saudi Defense Secretary, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss opportunities for the U.S. to expand its support for the Saudi-led coalition. Mattis stated that the U.S. wants to reach a UN-negotiated ceasefire in Yemen “as soon as possible.” U.S. defense officials told Reuters that the al Houthi-Saleh bloc would not agree to negotiations without suffering additional military losses. The al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council called for negotiations without preconditions and a “just peace that preserves Yemen’s sovereignty” in response to Mattis’s statement.[1]

Human Rights Watch condemned al Houthi-Saleh forces’ use of banned anti-personnel landmines against civilians in Yemen on April 20. The report investigated cases across six governorates in which al Houthi-Saleh used landmines in violation of Yemeni law.[2]

The UAE announced the start of training for a second class of “Shabwani Elite Forces” at Camp al Rayyan, near the city of al Mukalla in eastern Hadramawt governorate. Shabwani Elite Forces coordinate with the Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces to protect Yemen’s eastern coast and fight al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) fired mortars at Darulsalam and Giriley villages in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on April 19. KDF forces attempted to target al Shabaab militants in the area but the artillery misfired, killing at least three civilians. The villages are located near Elwaq town on the Kenyan-Somali border, a key access point for Kenyan troops deployed in Somalia. The Kenyan military has increased operations targeting al Shabaab militants along the border in the past two months.[4]

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Emirati Red Crescent vowed to continue distributing humanitarian aid in Somalia. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) condemned the April 19 al Shabaab attack on a convoy of Somali and Emirati aid workers near Mogadishu, which destroyed a vehicle and injured several workers. The WFP and Emirati Red Crescent coordinate logistics to transport humanitarian aid to Somalia. The WFP sent more than 47 tons of food aid from the UAE this week. Al Shabaab rejects the presence of Western and international aid organizations in Somalia. The group seeks to build popular support by attacking humanitarian groups and positioning itself as an aid provider. Al Shabaab claimed to distribute food and water to local populations in central and southern Somalia in the past two months.[5]

[1] Karen Parrish, “Mattis Meets With Saudi Officials in Riyadh, Praises Kingdom’s Leadership,” DoD News, April 19, 2017,; Ellen Mitchell, Mattis: US must overcome destabilizing Iranian influence in Yemen,” The Hill, April 19, 2017,; Idrees Ali, “U.S. defense secretary: must overcome Iran's destabilization efforts to help Yemen,” Reuters, April 19, 2017,; “Supreme Political Council welcomes any international position that supports a negotiated political solution in Yemen,” Sabanews, April 19, 2017,
[2] “Yemen: Houthi-Saleh forces using landmines,” Human Rights Watch, April 20, 2017,
[3] “Alliance strengthens its exercises to build a national army in the south,” April 20, 2017,
[4] “KDF mortar attack blamed for civilian casualties in Somalia,” Garowe Online, April 20, 2017,
[5] “UAE condemns attack on Red Crescent convoy in Somalia,” Garowe Online, April 20, 2017,; and “WFP sends food aid from UAE to drought-hit Somalia,” Shabelle News, April 20, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
May '17
Apr '17
Mar '17