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. asserts no military solution to Yemeni conflict; al Houthi forces consolidate in northwestern Taiz governorate, central Yemen; Emirati-backed political council announces names of local leaders; Saudi-led coalition intercepts al Houthi missile in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Puntland deploys additional forces in Bari region, northern Somalia; Somali president appoints new national security advisor

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tim Lenderking asserted on December 21 that there is no military solution to the Yemeni conflict and that the al Houthi movement could be involved in a future political resolution if al Houthi forces stop attacking Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia intercepted an al Houthi ballistic missile over Riyadh on December 19 and November 4. The White House welcomed Saudi Arabia’s reaction to the attack after Saudi Arabia pledged to keep al Hudaydah port in western Yemen open to all humanitarian and commercial goods for the next thirty days and approved the installation of new U.S.-funded cranes for the port. The White House also reiterated that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) enabled the November 4 al Houthi missile attack.[1]

Al Houthi forces are consolidating in northwestern Taiz governorate, central Yemen. Al Houthi forces deployed from Taiz city toward Shara’b al Salam district and reinforced the mountainous al Mikhlaf area with forty vehicles on between December 19 and 20. Two main roads run through Ta’iziyah, connecting Taiz city and Ibb city. Al Houthi forces blew up the home of a local leader of the late former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party and killed three locals in al Hima area, al Ta’iziyah on December 19. GPC loyalists retaliated and killed seven al Houthi militants.[2] 

Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaydi announced on December 21 the names of 107 local STC branch leaders in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen, and 107 local STC branch leaders in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen. The STC is an Emirati-backed governing body that rivals the internationally recognized Yemeni government in southern Yemen. The STC will hold its first National Assembly meeting in Aden city, southern Yemen on December 23.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition intercepted an al Houthi ballistic missile aimed for Ma’rib city, northern Yemen on December 21. Coalition and Hadi government forces are concentrated in Ma’rib.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Puntland State army deployed additional troops to the Galgala Mountains in Bari region, northern Somalia on December 21 to clear al Shabaab hideouts. Al Shabaab militants claimed an ambush on a joint U.S.-Puntland security patrol near Galgala that killed a top Puntland commander on December 20. Al Shabaab has attacked Puntland security forces seven times in December.[5] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo appointed National Security Advisor Abdisaid Muse Ali as to replace interim advisor Hussein Moalim Mohamud Sheikh Ali on December 22. Muse Ali served as security advisor to former Transitional Federal Government President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.[6]

[1] “Update on Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, December 22, 2017,; and “Statement by the Press Secretary on Saudi Arabia and Yemen,” The Whtie House, December 21, 2017,
[2] “Taiz: serious movements of the Houthi group south of Salam district,” Al Mushahid, December 21, 2017,; “Houthis besieging the birthplace of Sheikh Hamoud al Mikhlafi, leader of the Popular Resistance in Taiz and preparing to storm,” Barq Press, December 20, 2017,; “Houthis begin to encircle al Mikhlaf area, north of Taiz after violent confrontation in Ta’iziyah,” Al Masdar, December 20, 2017,; “Houthis blow up the house of a leading GPC member after confrontation against loyalists in Taiz,” Al Masdar, December 19, 2017,; and “Taiz: New sites in the grip of the Yemeni army and the killing of a Houthi leader,” Al Arabiya, December 20, 2017,
[3] “President of the Transitional Council issues a decree to form the local leadership in al Mahrah, 107 members,” Southern Transitional Council, December 21, 2017,; and “President Zubaydi issues a decree on the formation of the local leadership in Hadramawt,” Southern Transitional Council, December 21, 2017,
[4] “Coalition defenses intercept a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis on Ma’rib city,” Al Masdar, December 21, 2017,
[5] “Puntland Deploys Army In Galgala Hills Area,” Radio Dalsan, December 21, 2017,
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 22, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Jan '18
Dec '17
Nov '17