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: UN Secretary-General notifies Security Council of new UN Special Envoy to Yemen appointment; outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with Emirati Crown Prince; al Dhaleh security forces release Republican Guard officers to GPC official in al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and SNA forces recapture Sablale town in Lower Shabelle region from al Shabaab; al Shabaab militants publicly execute two Kenyans accused of spying in Qunyo Barrow, Middle Jubba region; Kenyan Attorney General resigns

Yemen Security Brief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres notified the UN Security Council of his plan to appoint British mediator Martin Griffiths as the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen on February 13. The Security Council will approve the appointment on February 14 if there are no objections from member states. Griffiths previously worked in the office of the UN Special Envoy to Syria. The tenure of the outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen will end on February 28. The Saudi-led coalition announced on February 12 that it will not change its peace strategy in Yemen “under any circumstances.”[1]

Outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on February 13 and Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaidi on February 14. The Crown Prince thanked Ould Cheikh Ahmed for his work and reaffirmed the UAE’s support for the UN’s efforts to reach a political resolution to the Yemeni crisis. Zubaidi and Ould Cheikh Ahmed discussed issues relating to the STC’s bid for greater autonomy in southern and eastern Yemen. Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that Oman agreed to host a new round of talks between the al Houthi movement and the General People’s Congress (GPC) party on February 9 after meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi on February 7.[2]

Al Dhaleh security forces released 66 Republican Guard officers to GPC official Kamal al Ruwaishan in Qataba, al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on February 13. Security forces detained the officers at a checkpoint in al Dhaleh city after denying the officers passage on February 11. The UAE and officials from the STC also attempted to broker the officers’ release.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) forces recaptured Sablale town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia from al Shabaab on February 13. SNA and AMISOM troops captured the town after advancing from Barawe town. The attack is part of an offensive in the Lower Shabelle region that AMISOM and SNA forces began on February 12. The joint force has seized multiple villages in the Lower Shabelle region from al Shabaab since then.[4] 

Al Shabaab publicly executed two Kenyans in Marsabit county in Qunyo Barrow town, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on February 12. Al Shabaab accused the two men of spying for the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF). Al Shabaab forced residents to watch the executions. Al Shabaab has executed over 20 Kenyans accused of spying in recent years.[5]

Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai resigned after six and a half years in office on February 13. President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki to replace Muigai. The National Assembly must approve Kariuki’s appointment. Muigai’s most recent action before his resignation was describing opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic inauguration as “high treason” punishable by death on January 30. Justice Kariuki was previously a prospective candidate for the Kenyan Chief Justice position in 2016.[6]


[1] “U.N. chief set to appoint Britain's Martin Griffiths as Yemen envoy,” Reuters, February 13, 2018,; and “No change in coalition ‘peace strategy’ in Yemen,” Arab News, February 13, 2018,
[2] “Bin Zayed discusses with Ould Cheikh developments of the situation in Yemen,” Al Masdar, February 13, 2018,; “Mohammad receives UN special envoy to Yemen,” Gulf News, February 13, 2018,; and “President of the Presidency of the Southern Transitional Council, Maj. Gen. Aydarus Qasem al Zubaidi, meets the special UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh,” Southern Transitional Council, February 14, 2018,
[3] “The release of Republican Guard officers detained in al Dhaleh and returning them to Qataba,” Al Masdar, February 13, 2018,
[4] “Somali Forces Capture Sablale town From Al-shabaab,” Halbeeg, February 14, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: February 12, 2018,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, February 12, 2018,
[5] “Two Kenyan al Shabaab fighters executed for spying for KDF, The Star, February 14, 2018,; and “Shabaab militants execute two Kenyans publicly,” Nairobi News, February 14, 2018,
[6] “Githu Muigai resigns as Attorney-General,” Daily Nation, February 13, 2018,; “Attorney General Muigai resigns, Solicitor-General replaced,” Standard Media, February 13, 2018,; and “Uhuru Kenyatta moves to secure his circle of power,” Daily Nation, February 14, 2018,

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