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: Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN asserts U.S. has not made a sufficient case against Iran; Hadi government condemns southern secessionists; al Houthi movement fires two medium-range ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: AMISOM appoints new Force Commander; suspected al Shabaab IED targets SNA convoy in Mogadishu; al Shabaab conducts mortar strike against AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle region; Kenyan court issues temporary order to restore television stations

Yemen Security Brief

Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia asserted that the U.S. has not made a sufficient case proving that Iran supplied ballistic missiles to the al Houthi movement on January 31. U.S. Envoy to the UN Nikki Haley exhibited al Houthi ballistic missile parts to UN Security Council members in Washington D.C. on January 29. Ambassador Haley publicly presented evidence that an al Houthi long-range ballistic missile launched on November 4 appears to be an Iranian Qiam-1 in December.[1]

The internationally recognized Hadi government condemned the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) for attempting to overthrow the Yemeni government on February 1. The Hadi government stated that the STC’s actions violate UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and thanked Saudi Arabia for helping to end clashes in Aden. The STC, an Emirati-backed governing body that seeks increased autonomy for southern and eastern Yemen, began taking over key Hadi government infrastructure in Aden city on January 28. STC forces confined Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir and his administration to the Ma’ashiq Presidential Palace on January 29.[2]

The al Houthi movement fired two medium-range Qaher-M2 ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in northern Yemen. Al Houthi forces fired ballistic missiles at Ma’rib city on February 1 and at Khab wa al Shaaf district, al Jawf governorate on January 31. The al Houthi movement frequently fires short- and medium-range ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces to counter Hadi government offensives.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) appointed Lieutenant General Jim Besigye Owoyesigire as the new AMISOM Force Commander on February 1. Owoyesigire previously served as Ugandan Air Force Commander and Field Artillery Division Commander. Owoyesigire pledged to continue building the capacity of the Somali National Army (SNA) in order to prepare for the planned withdrawal of AMISOM forces by 2020. He also pledged to prioritize destroying the remaining pockets of al Shabaab militants in Somalia.[4]

A suspected al Shabaab roadside improvised explosive device (IED) killed at least three people in the Taredishe area near Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The IED missed a SNA military convoy and struck a civilian bus. The attack was the latest in a series of al Shabaab IED attacks outside Mogadishu and throughout the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia in past few weeks.[5]

Al Shabaab fired mortars at AMISOM forces near Laantabuur village in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on January 31. AMISOM forces returned mortar fire.  Al Shabaab has attacked AMISOM and SNA forces along the roads connecting the capital to other strategic locations like Afgoi, Kismayo, and Baidoa in recent weeks.[6]

A Kenyan judge on the High Court in Nairobi temporarily barred the Communications Authority from interfering with the signal transmissions of television stations on January 30. Kenyan authorities blocked three independently owned television stations to prevent live coverage of the protest inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga. Odinga’s supporters named him the “people’s president” in a rally in Nairobi despite threats from the Kenyatta administration describing the act as treasonous. The stations remain closed according to latest reports. Kenyan journalists remained in their newsrooms to avoid arrest.[7]

[1] “Russia's UN Envoy: U.S. 'Hasn't Proved' Iran Action In Yemen,” Radio Free Europe, February 1, 2018,; and Kirill Semenov, “What role will Moscow assume in Yemen's civil war?,” Al Monitor, January 30, 2018,

[2] “Government: What the rebels have done in Aden undermines efforts to end the Houthi coup and serves agendas that run counter to Yemen's unity and territorial integrity,” February 2, 2018,

[3] “Launching a Qaher-M2 missile on a gathering of invaders and mercenaries in Khab wa al Shaaf area, al Jawf,” Saba News, January 31, 2018,; and “Launching a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile on the forces of aggression in Ma’rib,” Saba News, February 1, 2018,

[4] “The AU Mission In Somalia gets a new Force Commander,” Radio Shabelle, February 1, 2018,

[5] “Roadside mine blast kills 3 civilians outside Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, February 1, 2018,

[6] “Al Shabaab fires mortars at AMISOM base in Lower Shabelle region,” Radio Shabelle, February 1, 2018,

[7] “Kenya extends TV station ban over Odinga 'inauguration',” Al Jazeera, January 31, 2018,; “Kenyan court orders govt to end televisions shutdown,” The East African, February 1, 2018,; “Kenyan journalists, fearing arrest, camp out in their newsroom,” Reuters, February 1, 2018,; and “Kenyan TV stations to remain shut until govt probe ends,” The East African, January 31, 2018,

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