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: Hadi government claims to seize Mokha city; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missiles toward Mokha city; Saudi-led coalition strikes al Houthi-Saleh missile base in Sa’ada governorate; AQAP claims responsibility for assassination of al Houthi commander in 2015; AQAP and Republican Guard clash in Ibb governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenyan government declares drought a national disaster; UN Secretary-General expresses hope for new Somali Government

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claimed to take full control of Mokha city, Taiz governorate, on February 10, after approximately three weeks of fighting. Hadi government and popular resistance forces reportedly arrested remaining al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Mokha city and plan to reopen Mokha port to aid shipments in the coming days. Pro-al Houthi media reported on fighting east of Mokha city on February 10.[1]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired two ballistic missiles from the village of Ikhtul, Mokha district, Taiz governorate, towards Hadi government forces stationed in Mokha city on February 9. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted the missiles. Ikhtul is located about ten kilometers north of Mokha city.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition conducted a large number of airstrikes against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Haydan and Saqin districts, Sa’ada governorate on February 10. Pro-Hadi government media claimed that the strikes killed 40 people, allegedly including five Iranian missile experts, at a ballistic missile base in Saqin district. The Saudi-led coalition is attempting to destroy the al Houthi-Saleh bloc’s ability to strike targets inside Saudi Arabia. President Hadi recalled the Fourth Brigade, his primary infantry force in Sa’ada, on February 9. Fourth Brigade commander Brigadier General Mehran Qabati stated that his forces will return to Aden city on February 10. The reason for the recall and any upcoming deployments to Sa’ada are unknown at this time.[3]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the assassination of al Houthi Security and Intelligence Director Taha al Madani on February 9. Rumors of al Madani’s death first surfaced on November 8, 2015 but remained unconfirmed. Al Madani was reportedly injured during a shootout near Sana’a city in early November 2015. A Republican Guard officer alleged al Madani had been dead for over a year in a Facebook post on February 6. The Republican Guard is loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and fights alongside al Houthi forces.[4]
  • Republican Guard forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with AQAP forces in al Sayyani and Udayn districts, Ibb governorate on February 9. AQAP militants assassinated two al Houthi-Saleh commanders in Ibb governorate on February 7.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Kenyan government declared current drought conditions in East Africa a national disaster on February 10. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called on international partners to provide financial and humanitarian assistance. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that more than 11 million people are facing famine conditions and require urgent aid throughout the Horn of Africa. The IRFC asked for financial contributions from the international community totaling $13 million for affected people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The IRFC has raised 22 percent of that amount. The Horn of Africa suffered from similar drought and famine conditions in 2010 and 2011 that killed more than 250,000 people.[6]
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed hope that newly elected Somali President Mohamed Farmajo will quickly form an inclusive government in order to confront urgent security and humanitarian challenges facing Somalia. Guterres stated that President Farmajo should prioritize the current humanitarian crisis caused by severe drought. Guterres also emphasized the importance of building effective national security forces. Somalia relies upon more than 20,000 African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping forces to combat al Shabaab.[7]


[1] “Battle of Mokha reaches completion after the expulsion of rebels,” Aden Lange, February 10, 2017,, “Government forces disarm mines and capture Huthis hiding in Mokha houses,” al Masdar, February 9, 2017,, “Government will open Mokha port within days,” Barakish, January 10, 2017,, and “Mercenary APC destroyed as parties seize al Mokha district,” al Masirah, February 10, 2017,
[2] “Air defense systems intercept two missiles fired by militias towards Mokha city,” Aden Lange, February 9, 2017,, and “Air defense system encounters rebel rockets fired at Mokha,” Barakish, February 9, 2017,
[3] “Dawn raids kill five missile experts in Sa’ada,” Aden Lange, February 10, 2017,, and “Four martyrs after air raids in Haydan District of Sa’ada,” al Masirah, February 10, 2017,
[5] “Ibb: Tension and clashes between the Houthis and Sayani and Udayn-based fighters,” al Masdar, February 9, 2017,
[6] “Eleven million face starvation in Horn of Africa and Kenya,” The Citizen, February 10, 2017,; “Kenya declares drought a national disaster, seeks local, international help,” Reuters, February 10, 2017,; and “Millions cling on to hope as drought conditions worsen in Kenya,” IFRC, February 10, 2017,
[7] “Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia,” UN Secretary-General, February 9, 2017,; and “UN calls on Somali president to form inclusive cabinet,” Goobjoog News, February 10, 2017,
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