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: European and Asian countries reportedly offer logistical support to Hadi government forces; Saudi-led coalition questions credibility of UN Humanitarian Coordinator; al Houthi movement forces counterattack in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen

Horn of Africa: UN releases 2017 end of year assessment on Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes two Christians in Lamu County, southeastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

European and Asian countries offered to provide logistical support to Hadi government forces, according to Chief of Staff Major General Taher al Aqeeli. He added that the Hadi government is already cooperating with Australia on maritime issues. Australia is part of Combined Task Force 150, which is tasked with patrolling the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley began an effort in December to gather international support for pushing back on Iran’s military support for the al Houthi movement in Yemen. It is unclear if Ambassador Haley’s efforts prompted the European and Asian countries to offer support to the Hadi government.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition challenged the credibility of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator’s report on civilian casualties in Yemen because he referred to the al Houthi movement as the de facto authorities in some areas of Yemen. Coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki al Malki claimed this type of language demonstrated the coordinator’s bias in favor of the al Houthi movement. UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick reported that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 109 civilians in a ten day period on December 28.[2]

Al Houthi movement forces counterattacked al Khawkhah city, al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on December 28. Al Houthi movement forces made limited gains west of the city. Coalition-backed forces still control al Khawkhah. Yemeni forces deployed from other parts of al Hudaydah to reinforce the city. Al Khawkhah is over 20 miles from the northern frontline of the al Hudaydah offensive and has been under coalition control since the first week of December.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab maintains advanced attack capabilities, corruption remains rampant throughout the Somali Federal Government, and 6.2 million Somalis require humanitarian aid, according to the UN’s end of the year assessment of Somalia released on December 26. The report blamed below average rainfall, corruption, and al Shabaab violence for increasing the number of Somalis suffering from famine by nearly tenfold since the 2016 report. The UN remarked positively on the presidential transition of power and the election of 80 women to parliament, however.[4]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed two Kenyan Christians between the towns of Gamba and Witu in Lamu county, southeastern Kenya on December 27. Al Shabaab uses its stronghold in the Boni Forest to attack Kenyan Defense Forces and Christian civilians in southeastern Kenya.[5]

[1] “Yemen’s Chief of Staff to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Received Offers from European Countries for Logistical Support,” Asharq Al-Awsat, December 29, 2017,’s-chief-staff-asharq-al-awsat-we-received-offers-european-countries.
[2] “Arab Coalition calls UN to review humanitarian coordinator’s biased stance,” al Arabiya, December 29, 2017,
[3] “The army and resistance forces repel the attack by al-Houthi militia and kill a number of them on the front of the al Khawkhah,” Aden al Hadath, December 28, 2017,; and “17 martyrs and dozens injured in a large-scale attack of Houthis on al Khawkhah,” Aden Tomorrow, December 29, 2017,
[4] Kevin J. Kelley, “Corruption rife in Somalia, UN says in year-end assessment,” Daily Nation, December 29, 2017,; “End of Year Statement from UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating,” Relief Web, December 26, 2017,; “End of Year Statement from UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Michael Keating,” UNSOM, December 26, 2017,; and “Sustained cooperation vital to address Somalia’s challenges, says UN envoy,” UN News Centre, December 27, 2017,
[5] Al Shabaab ambushes Christians in Lamu County, Telegram, December 27, 2017.
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