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 panel of experts warns of collapse of Yemeni state in final report; Emirati-backed forces secure valley from AQAP in Hadramawt governorate; Hadi government forces find 11 al Houthi missiles in al Hudaydah governorate; al Houthi movement sentences three individuals from southern Yemen to death in Sana’a; AQAP militants assassinate two al Houthi troops in al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Prime Minister resigns; Kenyan High Court rules against deportation of opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna; KDF operation kills three al Shabaab militants in Lamu region, eastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

A UN Panel of Experts warned the Yemeni state had “all but ceased to exist,” Yemen’s financial system has collapsed, and that nearly all belligerents in the conflict are responsible for human rights violations in a February 14 report to the UN Security Council. The panel of experts stated that no faction in Yemen currently possesses the political support or military strength to unify Yemen or achieve an outright military victory. The panel’s report found Iran guilty of preventing the direct or indirect supply of ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to the al Houthi movement. The panel also warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership has remained intact and is attracting low-level ISIS militants despite the organization being at its weakest in years due to an increase in counterterrorism operations and internal divisions.[1]  

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite, supported by Emirati ground and air forces, cleared the Amd valley of AQAP militants stationed in strongholds in Amd district, central Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on February 15. Hadhrami Elite forces also established new security checkpoints at access points to al Mesini valley, disrupting AQAP supply routes in the area. The Hadramawt Governor affirmed the Hadhrami Elite’s objective to clear rural areas of AQAP.[2]

Hadi government forces found 11 ballistic missiles belonging to the al Houthi movement while clearing western Hays district, al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on February 14. Saudi-led coalition-backed forces took control of Hays city on February 5. Hadi government officials reported that six of the missiles each weighed 500 kilograms and the other five each weighed 200 kilograms.[3]

The al Houthi movement-aligned Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced three individuals to death in Sana’a for allegedly aiding the Saudi-led coalition on January 30. The three individuals were allegedly subjected to torture and isolation after they were arrested in October 2016 at an al Houthi movement checkpoint in Sana’a while traveling from southern Yemen.[4] 

AQAP militants assassinated two al Houthi troops with a gun equipped with a silencer in Damt district, al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen on February 10. AQAP frequently conducts assassinations of al Houthi government and security officials in Damt district.[5] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned as both prime minister and chairman of the ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), on February 15. Desalegn said that he resigned in order to allow reforms to be carried out amid political unrest in Ethiopia. The EPRDF accepted his resignation. Desalegn became prime minister in September 2012 after the death of his predecessor. Ethiopia has experienced widespread political unrest since anti-government protests broke out in response to urban development plans and accusations of government land grabbing in 2015. Ethiopia’s Oromo population recently protested the slow pace of prisoner releases promised by the ruling party in January 2018. The Ethiopian government has released hundreds of political prisoners in the past few weeks in an effort to deescalate political tensions.[6]

The Kenyan High Court declared that the Interior Ministry’s decision to deport opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna to Canada on February 7 was illegal. The court said that the Kenyan Inspector General and Director of Criminal Investigation defied court orders when deporting Miguna. The court also directed the Kenyan government to return Miguna’s seized passport to the court within a week. Miguna filed a suit for the reinstatement of his Kenyan citizenship on February 12. The Kenyan Interior Ministry is expected to appeal the court’s decision. Kenyan authorities deported Miguna after charging him with treason for his role in the National Resistance Movement and his participation in the symbolic inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga on January 30. The Interior Ministry cited Miguna’s failure to apply for Kenyan citizenship after revisions to the 2010 constitution allowing dual citizenship as justification for his deportation. Miguna obtained a Canadian citizenship in 1988.[7]

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) killed three al Shabaab militants during a security operation in Boni Forest in Lamu region, eastern Kenya on February 14. Al Shabaab attempted to ambush KDF soldiers and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) on the road used by KDF troops during the engagement. A KDF spokesman said that they recovered al Shabaab weapons, ammunition, and explosives in the operation. The KDF claimed that al Shabaab is fleeing from increased airstrikes in southern Somalia to eastern Kenya to hide and conduct attacks in the region. Kenyan police also said that al Shabaab’s roadside IEDs have slowed security operations around the Kenyan-Somali border in recent weeks.[8]

[1] “UN Panel of Experts Report on Yemen 2018,” UN Security Council, February 14, 2018,
[2] “Hadhrami Elite forces expelled al Qaeda from Wadi Amd,” Aden Tomorrow, February 15, 2018,; “With the support of the coalition, legitimate forces control the entrances of the Wadi Messini, the most important strongholds of al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” WAM, February 15, 2018,; “A military operation of government forces to control an al Qaeda stronghold in Hadramawt,” Al Masdar, February 15, 2018,; “Battle of Wadi al Mesini, cutting the al Qaeda artery in Hadramawt,” Masrawy, February 15, 2018,; “Details of the attack of the National Army forces on the dens of al Qaeda in Wadi Amd, west of the city of Sayoun,” Watan News, February 15, 2018,; and “Watch the military operation against al Qaeda in Wadi Amd in Hadramawt,” February 15, 2018,
[3] “The National Army finds long-range missiles while combing sites in western Hays district,” Saba New, February 14, 2018,; and “Government forces found 11 long-range rockets in Hays, southern al Hudaydah,” Al Masdar, February 14, 2018,
[4] “Yemen Houthi court sentences three to death after enforced disappearance and alleged torture,” Amnesty International, February 15, 2018,
[5] AQAP militants assassinate two Houthi in Damt, February 14, 2018, Telegram; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, February 14, 2018,
[6] “Ethiopia prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns,” Al Jazeera, February 15, 2018,; “Ethiopia’s prime minister resigns amid political turmoil,” The Washington Post, February 15, 2018,; “Ethiopian Prime Minister Resigns,” Voice of America, February 15, 2018,; and “Ethiopia's PM offers resignation to help reforms after mass unrest,” Reuters, February 15, 2018,
[7] “Miguna Miguna's deportation is illegal, Judge Kimaru rules,” Standard Media, February 15, 2018,; “Miguna Miguna deportation illegal: High Court,” Daily Nation, February 15, 2018,; “Miguna freedom in limbo as Matiang'i appeals deportation ruling,” The Star, February 15, 2018,; and “Miguna deportation illegal, surrender his passports, Kimaru orders,” The Star, Februay 15, 2018,
 “Kenyan court revokes deportation of opposition-linked lawyer,” Reuters, February 15, 2018,
[8] “Kenyan forces kill 3 Al-Shabaab militants,” Radio Shabelle, February 15, 2018,; and “Kenyan forces kill 3 Al-Shabaab terrorists,” Xinhua, February 15, 2018,

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