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: AQAP claims Grad rocket attack on Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in central al Bayda governorate; UAE announces death of two Emirati soldiers in Yemen; popular resistance militias attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhamar governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab commander threatens more attacks in Mogadishu; Burundian government reaches agreement with AU on AMISOM salary payments

Yemen Security Brief

 Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed an attack on Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate on February 17. AQAP militants fired Grad rockets toward Hadhrami Elite Forces stationed near the presidential palace in al Mukalla on February 14. AQAP held al Mukalla for roughly a year until Emirati-backed forces retook the city in April 2016.[1]

 AQAP militants fighting alongside local tribal militias clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im, central al Bayda governorate on February 16. A local tribal leader claimed his forces killed an al Houthi-Saleh field commander in the clashes. AQAP last claimed an attack in Dhi Na’im on February 3.[2]

Two Emirati officers died while participating in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, according to a February 17 announcement from the UAE’s state news agency.  Lance Corporal al Dhohouri died in combat and Sergeant Soliman died from a heart attack. The UAE reported the death of a warrant officer in Yemen on February 5. Emirati forces are supporting forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Operation Golden Spear, which aims to seize Yemen’s western coast from al Houthi-Saleh forces.[3]

Anti-al Houthi tribal militias conducted multiple attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Otma, Dhamar governorate, central Yemen between February 15 and 17. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Otma following the attack on February 15. Popular resistance militants killed an al Houthi-Saleh commander and seized multiple military vehicles during an ambush on February 17 in Otma. Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed al Houthi-Saleh forces en route to Otma on February 17. Anti-al Houthi militias last clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhamar in early April 2016.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A senior al  Shabaab commander threatened more attacks against Somali government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) targets in Mogadishu during a radio broadcast. The unnamed al Shabaab leader commands operations in Bay and Bakool regions in southern Somalia. The threat comes the day after al Shabaab militants shelled areas near the Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, where new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was attending a ceremony. Al Shabaab gunmen assassinated several clan elders for participating in the electoral process in Mogadishu in the past month. Al Shabaab intensified attack operations in Mogadishu in the months preceding the presidential election in an effort to derail the electoral process.[5]

The Burundian government and the African Union (AU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on February 16 concerning salary payments to Burundian troops participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The Memorandum solidifies a prior arrangement to distribute payments to AMISOM troops through commercial banks in Burundi. The Burundian government warned the AU on February 13 that Burundi would withdraw troops if the parties could not reach an agreement this week. The European Union (EU), which finances AMISOM through the AU and troop contributing countries (TCCs), has not paid Burundian AMISOM soldiers for more than 12 months due to sanctions on the Burundian government. Burundi deploys more than 5,000 troops in Somalia that operate from an AMISOM base in Jowhar town, Middle Shabelle region.[6]


[1] AQAP claims attack against Hadhrami Elite forces in al Mukalla, Hadramawt, Telegram, February 17, 2017; and “Immigration office and three of his companions assassinated in Ataq,” Aden Lang, February 16, 2017,
[2] “Killing al Houthi field commander in confrontations in al Bayda governorate,” al Masdar, February 17, 2017,
[3] “Bodies of two martyred Emirati servicemen arrive in UAE,” WAM, February 17, 2017,; and Katie Paul, “UAE says two soldiers dead in Yemen: state news agency,” February 17, 2017,
[4] “Capturing seven al Houthi vehicles in Dhamar,” Aden Lang, February 17, 2017,; “Houthis indiscriminately bomb houses of civilians in Otomah,” Al Sahwa, February 15, 2017,; and “Resistance in Otma: 60 dead and wounded from the rebels in two days of clashes,” Aden Land, February 15, 2017,; and “Dhamar: the death of al Houthi leader (Abu-Nasr) in battles in Otma,” Barakish, February 17, 2017,
[5] “Al Shabaab threatens more attacks in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, February 17, 2017,
[6] “Burundi, AU resolve AMISOM pay dispute,” Shabelle News, February 17, 2017,

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