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: Al Houthi leader gives televised “Martyrs’ Day” address; UN Secretary General lobbies for Yemen ceasefire; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim downing of coalition UAV ingovernorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants repel Galmudug State military forces in Adaley village,region; al Shabaab militants detonate IED at SNA checkpoint in Tihsile village, region; al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting Ethiopian AMISOM convoy in Beledweyne, region
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi gave a televised address to commemorate “Martyrs’ Day” on February 10. The address coincided with the 38th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution. Al Houthi claimed that al Houthi-Saleh forces possess ballistic missiles capable of striking Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al Houthi also threatened the Saudi-led coalition and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, saying that his forces would “burn [their] tanks with lighters”. He accused the Saudi-led coalition of intervening in Yemen in order to show loyalty to the foreign policy agendas of the U.S. and Israel. Al Houthi also warned against external enemies sabotaging relations between the al Houthi movement and the General People’s Congress (GPC) party, led by former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir in Riyadh on February 12. Guterres also met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Muscat on February 15. Guterres seeks a multilateral “resurrection” of ceasefire talks between the major actors in Yemen’s civil war. Guterres has prioritized the Yemen conflict since taking office as UN Secretary-General on January 1.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed responsibility for the downing of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the town of al Jufaynah, Majzar district, Ma’rib governorate on February 15. Local media claims that the UAV belonged to the Saudi-led coalition.
- Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire two “Zilzal-2” ballistic missiles toward Hadi government forces in Wahija village, south of Mokha city in Taiz governorate, on February 15. The missile attacks are not confirmed. Hadi government forces are advancing northward along western Yemen’s Red Sea coast in an effort to capture ports from the al Houthi-Saleh faction. Hadi government forces are also attempting to seize Ikhtul, a town in northern Taiz governorate, to disable al Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile platforms in the area.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- U.S.-backed Galmudug State military forces attacked al Shabaab militants in Adaley village on the outskirts of Amara town, Mudug region in central Somalia on February 14. Reported U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flew overhead during the operation but did not conduct strikes. Al Shabaab militants repelled the Galmudug forces, secured the village, and launched a counter attack. Al Shabaab killed at least 10 soldiers, according to al Shabaab-linked Shahada News Agency. Al Shabaab capitalizes on territorial conflict between Galmudug State and Puntland in Mudug region to expand operational capabilities in central Somalia. Al Shabaab uses villages like Adaley as support zones for attacks in Galkayo, the capital of Mudug region. Al Shabaab militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) in Galkayo, killing more than 20 people, on August 21, 2016.
- Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at a Somali National Army (SNA) checkpoint in Tihsile village near Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on February 15. The blast killed two SNA soldiers and wounded four others. This attack follows an al Shabaab raid and ambush against SNA forces in Tihsile and Warmahan villages on February 13. Al Shabaab militants killed more than 20 SNA soldiers in that attack. Al Shabaab intensified operations against SNA and AMISOM forces in recent weeks in the Afgoi area, which is a strategic location 30 kilometers from Mogadishu.
- Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Beledweyne, Hiraan region in central Somalia on February 15. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that the blast killed several Ethiopian soldiers. Ethiopian AMISOM forces operate a base in Beledweyne. Al Shabaab militants seized several towns in the surrounding area between September and October 2016 after Ethiopian AMISOM troops withdrew.
 “February 10, 2017 speech, Malik Badr Eddin al Houthi speaks in memory of martyrs,” News Egypt 24, February 10, 2017, http://www.news24.com.eg/yemen/583167.html.
 “Secretary-General of the United Nations: the situation in Yemen is very tragic,” Aden Tomorrow, February 15, 2017, http://adenghd.net/news/245252/, and “UN Chief Guterres in Saudi Arabia, pleads for renewed peace talks on Yemen,” Deutsche Welle, February 12, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/un-chief-guterres-in-saudi-arabia-pleads-for-renewed-peace-talks-on-yemen/a-37521462.
 “Drone falls over southern city in Ma’rib with conflicting reports of who targeted it,” al Masdar, February 15, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/88870/amp, and “New details emerge on the fall of an unidentified aircraft in Ma’rib,” 7adramawt, February 15, 2017, http://www.7adramout.net/alyemenialyoum/1123991/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86---%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%B4%D9%81-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%82%D9%88%D8%B7-%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%87%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D9%85%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%A8.html.
 “Zilzal-2 launched at groupings of mercenaries in Mokha,” Sabanews, February 15, 2017, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news456242.htm, and “Golden Spear nears al Hudaydah,” Barakish, February 15, 2017, http://barakish.net/news02.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=456237.
 “Shabaab Claims Capturing Bases in Town, Villages in Lower Shabelle, Repelling Government Forces in Mudug,” SITE Intelligence, February 14, 2017, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/shabaab-claims-capturing-bases-in-town-villages-in-lower-shabelle-repelling-government-forces-in-mudug.html; and U.S.-backed Galmudug forces attack al Shabaab in Mudug, Twitter, February 14, 2017, https://twitter.com/Daudoo/status/831582433288060928.
 “Land mine blast at army checkpoint leaves two dead,” Shabelle News, February 15, 2017, http://www.shabellenews.com/2017/02/land-mine-blast-at-army-checkpoint-leaves-2-dead/.; and al Shabaab IED attack on SNA checkpoint in Tihsile, Telegram, February 14, 2017.
 “Ethiopian Military Truck Comes Under Explosion in Beledweyne,” Mareeg, February 15, 2017, http://mareeg.com/somalia-ethiopian-military-truck-comes-under-explosion-in-beledweyne/; al Shabaab IED attack on Ethiopian AMISOM in Beledweyne, Telegram, February15, 2017; and “Ethiopian AMISOM Withdrawals,” Colin Lahiff, November 4, 2016, https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/ethiopian-amisom-withdrawals.