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: Suspected AQAP militants ambush Yemeni soldier in Abyan governorate; Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills four Hezbollah operatives in northern Yemen; al Houthi militants launch missile attack on Hadi government forces in Abyan; US, Britain, and Turkey ask to investigate suspected UAE war crimes in Yemen

Horn of Africa: US Ambassador, AFRICOM Commander, and Jubbaland President meet in Kismayo; US resumes limited funding to SNA

Yemen Security Brief

A suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ambush killed a Yemeni Army soldier and a civilian in Wadi al Khayalah in al Mahfad district of Yemen’s southern Abyan governorate on February 11. AQAP has not claimed responsibility for the attack.[1]

Saudi sources reported that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed four Hezbollah members near the northern Ma’rib and al Jawf governorates on February 12. Hadi government forces killed several Iranian and Hezbollah military leaders and experts during clashes with al Houthi fighters last week, according to the Yemeni Minister of Information.[2] 

Al Houthi militants launched a missile attack on a Hadi government military camp in Lawder in Yemen’s southern Abyan governorate on February 12. The attack killed two Hadi government soldiers and injured eleven. [3]

A British law firm filed a lawsuit against senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials and military figures on February 12 for suspected war crimes against Yemeni civilians from 2015 to 2019. The UAE joined the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in 2015 after al Houthi militants took over the capital Sana’a and overthrew the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The UAE began withdrawing its troops from Yemen in July 2019.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

US Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General Stephen Townsend, and Jubbaland State President Ahmed Madobe met in Somalia’s southern Jubbaland State capital Kismayo on February 12. Jubbaland security forces clashed with militants loyal to one of Madobe’s political rivals shortly before the meeting. This meeting comes during a period of heightened tensions between the Jubbaland government, its Kenyan backers, and the Somali Federal Government (SFG) over the SFG’s decision to take control of Jubbaland’s northern Gedo region from Jubbaland State security forces on February 4.[5]

The US Embassy to Somalia announced the resumption of direct security assistance to a Somali National Army (SNA) unit in the Lower Shabelle region, southwest of the capital Mogadishu, on February 12. The US suspended the SNA’s aid in December 2017 due to corruption but continued to support US-trained Somali Special Forces. The embassy commended the Somali government’s reforms to increase the SNA’s financial transparency but warned that assistance would only go to operations focused on defeating militant organizations.[6]


[1] Ali Mahmood, “Soldier and civilian killed in suspected Al Qaeda ambush in southern Yemen,” The National, February 12, 2020, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/soldier-and-civilian-killed-in-suspected-al-qaeda-ambush-in-southern-yemen-1.977824.

[2] “4 experts from the Hezbollah militia were killed in airstrikes by the coalition east of Sanaa,” al Omanaa, February 12, 2020, https://alomanaa.net/details.php?id=108257; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 31, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 7, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-7-2020.

[3] “Killing and wounding 13 Yemeni soldiers in a Houthi missile attack in Abyan Governorate,” Yemen akhbar, February 12, 2020, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/2293491.

[4] Guy Faulconbridge, “Lawyers ask U.S., Britain to arrest UAE officials for war crimes in Yemen,” Reuters, February 12, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-rights/britain-and-united-states-asked-to-investigate-uae-war-crimes-in-yemen-sources-idUSKBN2060VY; and Samuel Bloebaum, Minatullah Alobaidi, and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 10, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 10, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-10.

[5] Harun Maruf, “US Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto, AFRICOM Commander General Stephen Townsend met with Jubbaland leader Ahmed Madobe in Kismayo on Wednesday. Meanwhile, there has been an exchange of gunfire in the town b/w Ahmed Madobe’s forces and those of his rival Abdinasir Seeraar,” Twitter, February 12, 2020, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1227595153948495872; and “Heavy fighting erupts in Kismayo,” Mareeg, February 12, 2020, https://mareeg.com/somalia-heavy-fighting-erupts-in-kismayo/.

[6] “United States Restarts Limited Direct Assistance to the Somali National Army,” US Embassy to Somalia, February 12, 2020, https://so.usembassy.gov/united-states-restarts-limited-direct-assistance-to-the-somali-national-army/; and Katharine Houreld, “U.S. suspends aid to Somalia’s battered military over graft,” Reuters, December 14, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-military-exclusive/exclusive-u-s-suspends-aid-to-somalias-battered-military-over-graft-idUSKBN1E81XF.

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