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: U.S. Ambassador to the UN calls on Security Council to take action against Iranian support for al Houthi forces; UN Security Council considers praising Saudi and Emirati efforts to ease humanitarian crisis; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Council of Ministers declares state of emergency; al Shabaab militants attack school in Wajir county, northeastern Kenya; SNA and AMISOM recapture Torotorow town in Lower Shabelle region from al Shabaab; al Shabaab militants defect to Jubbaland authorities

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called on the UN Security Council to take action against Iran for violating UN resolutions on February 15. Ambassador Haley announced it is time for the Security Council to take action after the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen report, which found Iran guilty of preventing the direct or indirect supply of ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to the al Houthi movement, became public on February 14. Russian UN Envoy Vassily Nebenzia asserted that the U.S. has not made a sufficient case proving that Iran supplied ballistic missiles on January 31.[1]

The UN Security Council is considering a British-proposed statement that praises Saudi Arabia and the UAE for pledging $1 billion to ease the humanitarian crisis, according to a Reuters report. The statement would also condemn the al Houthi movement for ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and would denounce all belligerents of the conflict for causing civilian casualties and restricting of the flow of commercial goods and humanitarian aid. A February 14 UN Panel of Experts report concluded that no belligerent of the Yemeni conflict have taken appropriate measures to mitigate the war’s impact on civilians.[2]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on February 16. AQAP militants frequently target al Hizam forces in Mahfad in an attempt to expel them from the district.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency, citing the volatile security situation in Ethiopia. The decision follows the resignation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in response to anti-government demonstrations by members of the Oromo ethnic group on February 15. Desalegn will serve as a caretaker prime minister until the Ethiopian ruling party names a replacement. The Ethiopian government lifted a 10-month state of emergency after clashes between Ethiopian security forces and anti-government protesters killed hundreds in August 2017.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan school, killing three teachers and injuring one other, in Qarsa, Wajir County, northeastern Kenya on February 16. The militants attacked Qarsa primary school, which is located near Somali cities Jilib and Bardhere on the southwestern Somali border. The militants also buried an improvised explosive device (IED) along the road to the school. A Kenyan security vehicle ran over the IED but the blast caused no serious injuries.[5]

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured Torotorow town from al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. High-ranking members of al Shabaab used Torotorow as a stronghold. U.S. airstrikes have targeted Torotorow in the past several months. The joint forces plan to expand their operations to nearby villages still under al Shabaab control. SNA and AMISOM forces have intensified operations against al Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle region since February 12. [6]

Two al Shabaab militants defected to Jubbaland State authorities in Bardhere, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia. A Gedo region security spokesman said that one of the fighters who defected was an al Shabaab commander. Another fighter defected to the authorities in Beled Hawo town in Gedo region on February 14. Regional officials expect more al Shabaab commanders to surrender. Al Shabaab defections have increased since former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow defected in August 2017.[7]

[1] “U.S. Calls For UN Action, Citing Report Of Iranian Arms Embargo Violations,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, February 16, 2018,
[2] Michelle Nichols, “U.N. Security Council mulls Saudi praise for Yemen aid pledge,” Reuters, February 15, 2018,
[3] “A martyr and three wounded by an explosive device by al Hizam in Mahfad,” Aden Lang, February 16, 2018,
[4] “Breaking – Ethiopia to declare three month state of emergency as of today,” Addis Standard, February 16, 2018,; “Ethiopia declares national state of emergency,” BBC, February 16, 2018,; and “Ethiopia declares state of emergency: state media,” Al Jazeera, February 16, 2018,
[5] “Three teachers killed in Wajir Shabaab attack,” Daily Nation, February 16, 2018,; “Suspected Al-Shabaab militants kill 3 in Kenyan school attack,” Radio Shabelle, February 16, 2018,; “Suspected Al-Shabaab militants kill 3 in Kenyan school attack,” Xinhua Net, February 16, 2018,; and “3 Teachers Killed In Wajir AlShabaab Attack,” Radio Dalsan, February 16, 2018,
[6] “Somali troops recapture town from Al-Shabaab,” Radio Shabelle, February 16, 2018,
[7] “Two fighters defect to Jubbaland government,” Hiiraan Online, February 16, 2018,

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