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: Saudi Arabia and UAE reaffirm partnership in Yemen; Saudi-led coalition forces clash with smugglers in al Mahrah governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenyan government defies court orders and arrests opposition lawyer; EU, US, and AU express concern over Kenyan political crisis; Germany to end military training in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Arabia and the UAE reaffirmed their partnership in a joint statement on February 1. The Saudi-led coalition’s objectives remain achieving a safe and stable Yemeni state and defeating the al Houthi movement, according to the statement. Coalition officials arrived in Aden on February 1 to stabilize clashes between southern secessionists and Hadi government forces. The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC), an Emirati-backed governing body that seeks increased autonomy for southern and eastern Yemen, began taking over key Hadi government infrastructure in Aden city on January 28.[1] 

Saudi-led coalition forces clashed with smugglers near al Ghaydah city in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on February 1. Al Mahrah Governor Rajeh Bakrit claimed on February 2 that the smugglers came from al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen. Saudi-led coalition forces began arriving in al Mahrah in November 2017 to impede smuggling of Iranian missile parts. Mahri tribal leaders reaffirmed their willingness to cooperate with the Saudi-led coalition’s anti-smuggling efforts in late December, so long as the coalition does not to empower select tribes and works through local institutions.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Kenyan government continued a shutdown of television stations on February 2, defying a court order as part of a larger crackdown on political opposition. National Super Alliance (NASA) party leader and presidential challenger Raila Odinga held a symbolic inauguration ceremony on January 30 in a direct challenge to the Kenyatta government. The Kenyan government also arrested opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna on February 2 for belonging to NASA’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) and administering an illegal oath to Odinga.  Miguna stood beside Odinga at the symbolic inauguration ceremony and had declared himself “General” of the NRM. The Kenyatta administration declared the NRM a criminal group because of its intent to establish a parallel government.[3]

The European Union (EU), the U.S. Department of State, and the African Union (AU) Commission expressed their concern for the rule of law in Kenya and their disapproval of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s treatment of the media. The EU condemned the shutdown of television stations and also rejected Odinga’s inauguration as an effort to undermine Kenya’s constitution and the rule of law. The State Department recognized President Kenyatta’s election but expressed concern with his interference with freedom of the press. The AU Commission called for Kenyans to obey the law and work for socioeconomic and political stability.[4]

The German government will begin to conclude its military training mission in Somalia in March 2018 due to lack of progress in the development of the Somali National Army (SNA). Germany has been training Somali forces under the framework of the European Union Training Mission in Somalia (EUTM) since 2010. The German Foreign Ministry said that Germany will continue to support Somalia politically to address the political and institutional shortcomings that have hindered the SNA’s development.[5]

[1] “Alliance for supporting legitimacy in Yemen the situation in Aden is stable and our goal is to ensure the security and stability of Yemen,” Saudi Press Agency, February 1, 2018,; and “A delegation from the Arab Alliance leadership arrives in Aden and makes sure that the stability of the city is restored,” Al Masdar, February 1, 2018,
[2] “One person was killed and another injured in clashes between gunmen and security forces in al Mahrah, southeast Yemen,” Al Masdar, February 2, 2018,; “Al Mahrah: clashes between security and gunmen,” Barakish, February 1, 2018,; “Urgent news from Yemen: violent clashes in al Mahrah,” 24, February 1, 2018,; “Clashes broke out between coalition forces and gunmen engaged in smuggling in al Mahrah governorate,” Al Mahrah News, February 2, 2018,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, February 1, 2018,
[3] “Kenya arrests lawyer, keeps TV stations shut after Odinga 'inauguration',” Reuters, February 2, 2018,; and “Miguna Miguna arrested, Runda home raided,” Daily Nation, February 2, 2018,
[4] “AU Commission criticises Raila Odinga 'swearing-in',” Daily Nation, February 2, 2018,; “ US Expresses Grave Concerns About Kenyan's 'Self-Inauguration',” Voice of America, February 1, 2018,; “US and EU criticise Raila oath, call for respect of law,” Daily Nation, February 2, 2018,
[5] “ Germany to stop training mission in Somalia,” Hiiraan Online, February 2, 2018,; and “ German military to end role in EU training mission in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, February 2, 2018

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