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 warns humanitarian situation may worsen; al Houthi movement leader expresses willingness to participate in political negotiations; international organization calls for release of 41 journalists in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Puntland declares state of emergency due to drought; al Shabaab militants detonate car bomb in Mudug region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s death will likely worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in the short term while speaking with reporters on December 5. Secretary Mattis suggested that Saleh’s death may push the conflict toward UN peace negotiations or cause a downward spiral of violence. He added that it is too early to predict the impact of Saleh’s death on the war. Secretary Mattis also asserted that humanitarian relief must be prioritized but stated the U.S. military will not play a role in easing the humanitarian situation.[1] 

President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad expressed the al Houthi movement’s willingness to participate in initiatives leading to the cessation of Saudi-led coalition engagement in Yemen and a just political settlement during a televised address on December 5. Samad also stated the military establishment will become more powerful and effective, and sought to reassure Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party.[2]

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for the immediate release of 41 journalists whom the al Houthi movement is holding hostage inside the headquarters of a Saleh-affiliated Yemeni TV station in Sana'a on December 5. Al Houthi forces overran the TV station on December 2 and subsequently began broadcasting pro-Houthi content. The al Houthi movement has shuttered a number of other Saleh-affiliated media outlets since clashes initially broke out between the al Houthi movement and Saleh loyalists on November 29.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Puntland officials declared a state of emergency due to a severe drought in the region on December 5. The state government called on the Somali Federal Government to provide food and water for the roughly 34,000 households affected by the extreme drought. Al Shabaab controls several of the highways leading to Puntland and often intercepts humanitarian aid, however.[4] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb killing the commander of the Galkayo market police station in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on December 6. Al Shabaab has detonated three car bombs targeting security officials in Galkayo in 2017.[5]

[1] “Yemen humanitarian situation likely to worsen with Saleh death: Mattis,” Reuters, December 5, 2017,
[2] “President al Samad addresses recent events in the capital and a number of areas,” Saba News, December 5, 2017,
[3] “Houthis holding 41 journalists hostage inside Yemeni TV station,” Reporters Without Borders, December 5, 2017,
[4] “Somalia's Puntland region declares state of emergency over drought,” Reuters, December 5, 2017,

[5] “Puntland senior police officer killed in a car bomb explosion,” Goobjoog, December 6, 2017,

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