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: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill 109 civilians in ten days; al Houthi ballistic missile targets Ma’rib base while Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen visits; Emirati-backed forces raid AQAP position in Hadramawt, eastern Yemen; al Houthi movement forces attack Hadi government forces in Abyan, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. airstrike hits VBIED near Mogadishu; SFG fires deputy attorney general; al Shabaab executes man accused of rape

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 109 civilians over a ten day period, according to a December 28 statement from UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick. Coalition airstrikes killed 54 civilians in Taiz governorate, 14 civilians in al Hudaydah governorate, and 41 civilians in other locations over the ten day period. McGoldrick said that these airstrikes “prove a complete disregard for human life” from all the belligerents of the conflict, including the coalition. The UN also reported on December 19 that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 130 civilians between December 6 and 16.[1]

Al Houthi forces fired a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at al Rawiq camp, east of Ma’rib city, northern Yemen while Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar visited the camp. Hadi government sources reported that the missile missed the camp and did not detonate, though al Houthi media sources claimed the missile caused casualties in the camp.[2] 

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) position, killing two militants, in Daw’an district, western Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on December 24. AQAP militants killed one Hadhrami Elite Forces soldier during the raid. Hadhrami Elite Forces are tasked with security and counterterrorism operations in Hadramawt governorate. AQAP militants shelled Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an district and west of al Mukalla on December 25, following the raid.[3]

Al Houthi movement forces attacked Hadi government forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 27 and 28. The 115th brigade, reinforced by a unit from Aden city, repelled an al Houthi attack on Lawder district from neighboring al Bayda governorate the night of December 27. Al Houthi movement forces shelled Hadi government forces in Lawder on December 27 and 28.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) 15 miles west of Mogadishu, Somalia on December 27. The strike killed four al Shabaab militants traveling in the VBIED. AFRICOM coordinated the strike with the Somali Federal Government (SFG).[5]

The SFG fired Deputy Attorney General Ahmed Ali Aybakar on December 28 due to the chaotic arrest of former opposition presidential candidate Abdirahman Abdishakur on December 17. Somali officials stated Aybakar oversaw Abdishakur’s case, but mismanaged it. The Banadir regional court also rescheduled Abdishakur’s trial to January 3, 2018 after he changed his lawyer team.[6]

Al Shabaab publicly executed a man accused of rape in Janale, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. Al Shabaab has executed eight civilians since December 22.[7]

[1] Tom Miles, “U.N. says Saudi-led coalition raids in Yemen kill 109 civilians,” Reuters, December 28, 2017,; and “Statement on Behalf of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, on Mounting Civilian Casualties,” UN Office of the resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, December 28, 2017,    
[2] “The Houthis launch a ballistic missile at a camp where the vice president is located east of Ma’rib,” al Masdar, December 28, 2017,
[3] “The arrest of one of the dangerous terrorist elements in the district of Daw’an in Hadramout,” Aden Lang, December 25, 2017,; Mukalla Gathered, Facebook, December 24, 2017,; and AQAP claims shelling Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an and near al Mukalla, Hadramawt,Telegram, December 25, 2017.
[4] “URGENT: Renewed clashes in the Thura front and militia use indiscriminate shelling,” Aden Lang, December 27, 2017,; “Bombardment continues on the homes of the citizens in Lawder...The resistance repels an attack by the Houthis,” Aden Lang, December 28, 2017,; and “Heroes of the 115th Infantry Brigade Bluder are able to repel the Houthi attack,” Aden Tomorrow, December 28, 2017,
[5] “U.S. conducts airstrike in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM, December 28, 2017,
[6] “First deputy of the attorney general fired,” Goobjoog, December 28, 2017,; and “Banadir Court Of Appeal Reschedules The Hearing Of Politician Abdishakur’s Case,” December 27, 2017,
[7] “Al Shabaab beheads man accused of rape,”Radio Shabelle, December 28, 2017,
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