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: CENTCOM reports multiple raids and 120 airstrikes in Yemen in 2017; Saudi-led coalition reports 83 al Houthi ballistic missile launches and promises Sana’a offensive; Saudi Arabia to allow crane installations in al Hudaydah port

Horn of Africa: Somali regional court releases opposition leader amid calls for president’s impeachment; al Shabaab ambushes Danab unit on Wanlaweyn-Mogadishu road; al Shabaab militants defect in Bay region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that U.S. forces conducted multiple ground operations and more than 120 airstrikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Yemen in 2017. CENTCOM stated that its ongoing operations have degraded AQAP media capabilities and that U.S. support has enabled local partners to regain territory.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition reported on December 21 that al Houthi forces have fired 83 ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia during the current conflict. Coalition Spokesman Colonel Turki bin Saleh al Maliki also reported that the coalition has destroyed a large number of al Houthi ballistic missile sites, including the site from which al Houthi forces launched a missile toward Riyadh on December 19. Maliki announced that the coalition is implementing plans to seize Sana’a city from the al Houthis.[2]

Saudi Arabia will allow the installation of four cranes at al Hudaydah port, northern Yemen. Saudi Arabia blocked the World Food Programme’s efforts to install new cranes with U.S. funding after coalition airstrikes destroyed al Hudaydah’s cranes in August 2015. Eighty percent of Yemeni imports and international aid comes through al Hudaydah port. The Saudi-led coalition recently resumed an offensive intended to capture al Hudaydah from the al Houthi movement. International organizations have warned that the closure of al Hudaydah would drastically worsen Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and cholera outbreak.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A Somali regional court released an opposition leader detained by Somali Federal Government (SFG) forces on December 21 amid an escalating political crisis. Security forces arrested Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, a former presidential candidate and outspoken critic of SFG leadership, and charged him with treason on December 17. Warsame’s release accompanies escalating pressure on Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo. Parliamentarians threatened to impeach Farmajo on December 20, accusing him of treason and violating the constitution. Ninety-six lawmakers called for the speaker of parliament to reopen the session for impeachment proceedings, which require 92 votes.[4]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a convoy of the Somali National Army’s Danab unit, an elite U.S-trained force, on the road between Mogadishu and Wanlaweyn in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 21. Gunmen detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) to stop the convoy before attacking it. A Somali police spokesman reported casualties on both sides.[5]

Four al Shabaab militants surrendered to Somali National Army (SNA) and Southwest State forces in Berdale town in Bay region, southern Somalia on December 21. The militants included al Shabaab’s deputy commander for Bay region.[6]

[1] “Update on recent counterterrorism strikes in Yemen,” U.S. Central Command, December 20, 2017,

[2] “Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen: 83 ballistic missiles fired in Saudi Arabia,” Al Arabiya, December 21, 2017,

[3] “Suspected cholera cases in Yemen hit 1 million: ICRC,” Reuters, December 21, 2017,; and “Spokesman for the Coalition Forces and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Yemen: Attacks by the Houthi militia on the people of Yemen and the Kingdom comes with the support of the Iranian regime,” Saudi Press Agency, December 21, 2017,

[4] Abdi Sheikh and Katharine Houreld, “Somali lawmakers seek to impeach president amid political crisis,” Reuters, December 20, 2017,; Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Somalia Releases Jailed Ex-Minister and Government Critic,” Reuters, December 21, 2017,; and “Abdishakur: No one can be silenced through the barrel of the gun,” Goobjoog News, December 21, 2017,

[5] Sheikh and Omar, “Somalia Releases Jailed Ex-Minister and Government Critic.”

[6] “Four Al-Shabaab militants surrender to Somali government,” Xinhua, December 21, 2017,

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