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: ISIS Wilayat al Bayda detonates SVBIED targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Rada’a city, western al Bayda governorate; al Houthi-Saleh bloc and Hadi government enact emergency measures to stabilize Yemeni rial; Saudi government reports increased casualties along border; al Houthi-Saleh forces fire ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Mokha district, Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants conduct overnight raid outside Balad town, Middle Shabelle region; Iranian navy interdicts Somali pirates in Bab al Mandab Strait; two senior al Shabaab commanders surrender in Baidoa town, Bay region; Burundian AMISOM battalion rotates into Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Rada’a city, western al Bayda governorate on February 14. The blast killed at least two al Houthi-Saleh troops and one child. Al Houthi-Saleh forces interdicted the SVBIED as it traveled toward an al Houthi “Martyr Week” rally in the city center. The ISIS suicide bomber detonated the SVBIED when al Houthi-Saleh forces opened fire.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi-Saleh bloc enacted reforms to counter the inflation of the Yemeni rial. Both factions are struggling to provide basic services. The rial’s value dropped steadily for about three months and reached an all-time low of 390 rials to one U.S. dollar (USD) in Aden on February 13. Al Houthi-Saleh officials placed a cap on imports of wheat, tobacco, flour, fuel, and telecommunications equipment and banned the purchase of dollars for 30 days in an attempt to prevent further decline on February 14. Saudi Arabia agreed on February 14 to deposit one billion USD in the Hadi government’s Central Bank in Aden to prevent collapse. The Central Bank announced on February 14 that it will buy merchants’ dollars in exchange for rials and increase citizens’ access to food and petroleum. Demonstrators in Aden city protested power outages on February 13. Regular power outages in Aden often last 12 hours.[2]

Confrontations between the Saudi Border Guard and al Houthi-Saleh forces on the border of Jazan region in southern Saudi Arabia are increasing. Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed at least twelve Saudi Border Guards between February 5 and 14, far exceeding the average number of reported deaths since the Saudi-led coalition began fighting in Yemen in March 2015.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile toward Hadi government forces near Mokha city on February 14. Al Houthi-Saleh fighters fired the missile from Camp Abu Musa al Ash’ari in Khawkah District, al Hudaydah governorate. Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted the missile over Mokha district.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Qalimow village near Balad town, Middle Shabelle region in southern Somalia on February 13. Al Shabaab gunmen entered Qalimow village during the night as militants bombarded SNA positions with mortars. Residents of Qalimow claimed that al Shabaab killed dozens of SNA soldiers in the attack. The Balad district is a strategic location 40 kilometers north of Mogadishu.[5]

Iranian warships interdicted Somali pirates attempting to hijack an Iranian trade vessel in the Bab al Mandab Strait on February 14. The Iranian Navy’s 44th Fleet encountered 11 speedboats carrying Somali pirates while patrolling the Gulf of Aden. Two of the ships in the fleet, the Alvand destroyer and Bushehr logistic warship, deployed to the Red Sea on October 6, 2016 to protect Iranian trade vessels from piracy.[6]

Two senior al Shabaab commanders surrendered to Somali government authorities in Baidoa town, Bay region in southern Somalia on February 13. The commanders were tax ministers in Bay region. The Somali government began an amnesty program for al Shabaab defectors in 2014.[7]

The Burundi National Defence Force (BNDF) 40th battalion rotated into Mogadishu on February 13 to replace the BNDF 34th battalion, which completed a one-year tour with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Burundian soldiers are based in AMISOM’s Sector Five in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, about 100 kilometers north of Mogadishu. The Burundian government threatened to withdraw troops from AMISOM in January 2017 before reaching an agreement with African Union and European Union officials to resume salary payments to soldiers. Burundi contributes more than 5,000 soldiers to AMISOM.[8]

[1] “3 dead, others injured from a car bomb near a gathering of supporters of Houthis in Rada’a,” al Masdar, February 14, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, February 14, 2017,; and ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims its militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qayfa and Tiab, Dawaal Haq, February 9 and 11.
[2]Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Breaking: Yemen’s Houthis set import cap, suspend dollar buying,” Reuters, February 14, 2017,, “A government source: Saudi Arabia agrees to deposit dollars in the Central Bank of Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, February 14, 2017,, “Central bank leadership deploy measures to increase exchange for shop owners,” Aden Lange, February 14, 2017,, and “Government takes action to stop the deterioration of the national currency,” February 14, 2017,
[3]Ian Timberlake, “12 Saudis killed in recent Yemen border fighting: media,” AFP, February 14, 2017,, and “Yemen Conflict: Seven Saudi soldiers killed on border,” al Jazeera, February 14, 2017,
[4] “Alliance intercepts ballistic missile launched toward Mokha,” Aden Lange, February 14, 2017,, and “Houthis fire a ballistic missile towards Mokha,” Barakish, February 14, 2017,
[5] “Scores of soldiers have been killed in an attack on Qalimow,” Mareeg, February 13, 2017,
[6] “Navy foils pirate attack on Iranian vessel,” Goobjoog News, February 14, 2017,
[7] “Two senior al Shabaab officials surrender to Somali government,” Goobjoog News, February 14, 2017,
[8] “New Burundi battle group arrives in Somalia,” AMISOM, February 14, 2014,  
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