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 movement and Hadi government agree on initial phase of withdrawal from al Hudaydah city; Saudi special forces conduct two raids against AQAP in Hadramawt governorate; al Houthi forces target Saudi army in southern Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles; Hadi government forces secure district in al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenya recalls Somali ambassador over disputed oil blocks; AMISOM commanders agree on new phase of operations; Sudanese parliamentarians cancel meeting to amend constitution amid protests

Yemen Security Brief

A UN spokesperson announced on February 17 that Hadi government and al Houthi movement agreed on the implementation of the first phase of the redeployment of forces from al Hudaydah city in accordance with the UN-brokered Stockholm agreement. Representatives from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement met with UN monitoring team leader Michael Lollesgaard on February 16 and 17 in al Hudaydah city in western Yemen. The first phase includes the withdrawal of all Hadi government and al Houthi forces from Saleef and Ras Issa ports north of al Hudaydah city. Griffiths stated that the second phase will include the withdrawal of all forces from al Hudaydah port and parts of al Hudaydah city deemed critical to humanitarian access.[1]

Saudi special forces and unidentified Yemeni security forces conducted two raids targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen on January 7 and February 7, 2019, according to the Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Turki al Maliki. One of the raids targeted the house of an AQAP field commander. Saudi forces arrested six militants of different nationalities and captured 350 million Yemeni riyals in the raid. Saudi forces also recovered weapons and explosives of Iranian origin in the raid, according to Maliki.[2]

Al Houthi forces fired approximately ten Zilzal-1 ballistic missiles targeting the Saudi army in the Jizan region of southern Saudi Arabia on February 16. Al Houthi forces also launched missiles and shelled Saudi forces in Jizan region and Asir region, also in southern Saudi Arabia, on February 18.[3]

Hadi government forces seized al Husha district in al Dhaleh governorate in central Yemen for the first time since the conflict began on February 18, according to the Yemeni Defense Ministry. The 30th Armored Brigade and popular resistance fighters began clashing with al Houthi forces on February 9. Al Houthi forces withdrew on February 13. Hadi government forces said they will continue to advance towards al Sabrah district in neighboring Ibb governorate.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

 The Kenyan government recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu on February 16 after accusing the Somali Federal Government (SFG) of auctioning oil blocks in a disputed maritime territory at a conference in London on February 7. Kenya also instructed the Somali ambassador to Nairobi to return to Somalia. The Somali government denied that it auctioned oil blocks in the disputed territory and released maps from the auction to corroborate this statement.[5]

Commanders from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) agreed on new operations and priorities under its new Concept of Operations (CONOPs) on February 16. AMISOM’s operations will support the Somalia Transition Plan, target al Shabaab hideouts, and enhance protection of population centers.[6]

The Sudanese parliamentary committee tasked with amending the constitution to allow President Omar al Bashir to run for another term in 2020 canceled its meeting scheduled for February 17. Protestors have been demonstrating against Bashir’s regime and calling for him to step down since December 2018. The Arab League also stated that it has not been asked to intervene in Sudan or lend support to the al Bashir government on February 17. The Arab League called the protests an “internal affair” in the same statement.[7]

[1] “Meeting of the redeployment coordination committee,” UN Secretary General, February 17, 2019,; “Yemen War: Parties agree Hudaydah port withdrawal plan,” BBC, February 18, 2019,; and OSE Yemen, Twitter, February 19, 2019,

[2] “Al-Maliki: The coalition carried out two security operations targeting al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” 7adramout, February 19, 2019,; and “The coalition reviews the threat of the Houthi militias a terrorist organizations to the Yemeni people,” Saudi Press Agency, February 18, 2019,  

[3] “Houthi forces unleash massive missile attack on southern Saudi Arabia,” Al Masdar News, February 16, 2019,; “Artillery and Zilzal-1 rockets down gatherings of Saudi soldiers in Jizan and Asir,” 26, February 18, 2019,

[4] “The army forces complete the liberation of the Directorate of Hisha in Dhaleh,”, February 18, 2019; "Violent confrontations followed the arrest of tribesman and supporters of an attack on the al Houthi militia in the district of Al-Husha in al Dhaleh," Khabar News Agency, February 17, 2019,  

[5] “Somalia moves to calm diplomatic tensions with Kenya,” Voice of America, February 18, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, February 17, 2019,

[6] “AMISOM commanders reach a consensus on military operations,” AMISOM, February 16, 2019,

[7] “Arab League says Sudan’s protests ‘internal affair’,” Sudan Tribune, February 18, 2019,; and “Sudan lawmakers cancel meeting on constitutional changes,” Voice Of America, February 17, 2019,

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