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: The U.S., France, and the UK call for renewed UN sanctions on Yemen and Iran; U.S. and other western countries reaffirm support for Yemeni peace talks; Emirati and Yemeni forces clear AQAP from valley west of al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate; Emirati-backed forces attack al Houthi forces in al Jarahi district, al Hudaydah governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian government says state of emergency will last six months; SNA and AMISOM forces conduct joint operation against al Shabaab in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region; Somali government appoints new police commander and NISA director

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S., France, and the UK called for renewed UN sanctions on Yemen and Iran over Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles to the al Houthi movement on February 17. The UK drafted a French and American-supported UN Security Council resolution that included updated UN sanctions on Yemen for another year and imposing sanctions for “any activity related to the use of ballistic missiles in Yemen.” The al Houthi movement uses sophisticated weaponry from Iran against Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government forces in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.[1]

The U.S. and other western countries emphasized their support for renewed UN-led political talks in Yemen. U.S. Deputy Chief of mission in Yemen Anna Escrogina and other western diplomats reaffirmed their support for the Yemeni peace process in meetings with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid Bin Daghr in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 19. Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the meetings with the Hadi government are aimed at preparing for the new round of talks expected to begin under new UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in March.[2]

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces, supported by Emirati air assets, claimed to clear al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants from al Mesini valley, west of al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on February 18. Emirati-backed forces began an offensive to clear AQAP strongholds in rural areas of Hadramawt on February 15. AQAP militants destroyed a security building in Amd district, central Hadramawt and clashed with Hadhrami Elite forces on February 16. AQAP militants also fired two Grad rockets at a Hadhrami Elite camp in Bedah, Daw’an district, between Amd and al Mukalla in central Hadramawt on February 18.[3] 

Emirati-backed forces attacked al Houthi forces in al Jarahi district, al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on February 18. The Saudi-led coalition renewed an offensive in December 2017 to seize Yemen’s western coast up to al Hudaydah port from the al Houthi movement. Emirati-backed forces seized Hays city, south of al Jarahi, on February 5. Al Houthi forces are counterattacking coalition-backed forces along Yemen’s western coast. Al Houthi forces ambushed a convoy of Emirati-backed forces in Hays district on February 18. The UAE’s state-run news agency reported an Emirati soldier died participating in the Saudi-led coalition but did not provide details on the location or circumstances of his death. Emirati air defenses shot down an al Houthi ballistic missile in Mokha city, Taiz governorate, south of al Hudaydah on February 18.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Ethiopian defense minister said on February 17 that the nationwide state of emergency will last for six months, citing the need to stabilize the country. Violent outbreaks continued in several parts of Ethiopia after the state of emergency was declared on February 16. American and European officials opposed the Ethiopian government’s decision. The Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared the state of emergency on February 16, one day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned. The last state of emergency began in October 2016 and lasted for 10 months in which hundreds died in clashes between police and protesters.[5]

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces conducted a joint operation to clear the port city of Barawe and secure roads blockaded by al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on February 18. SNA and AMISOM forces have recaptured several villages from al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle since February 12.[6] 

The Somali Federal Government appointed a new director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and commander of the Somali Police Force on February 19. The Somali cabinet endorsed General Bashir Abdi Mohamed as police commander and Hussein Osman Hussein as NISA director. The appointments come four months after Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo fired the previous commanders in October 2017 after a series of al Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu.[7]

[1] “U.N. council mulls condemning Iran over Yemen’s Houthis’ getting missiles,” Reuters, February 17, 2018,

[2] “Western Diplomatic Efforts to Activate Yemeni Talks,” Asharq al Awsat, February 20, 2018,
[3] AQAP destroys security building in Amd district, Telegram, February 16, 2018; “Killed and wounded in the ranks of al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” Al Gaaded, February 19, 2018,; “Government forces storm an al Qaeda position in the al Mesini valley west of Mukalla,” Al Masdar, February 18, 2018,; “Six government soldiers and a number of al Qaeda members were killed in clashes between the two sides west of Mukalla,” Al Masdar, February 17, 2018,; “Coalition forces begin the al Faisal process to control al Mesini valley in Hadramawt,” Al Masdar, February 17, 2018,; and AQAP fires two Grad rockets in Bedah, February 17, 2018, Telegram.
[4] “UAE shoots down Houthi missile over Mocha, Yemen,” The National, February 18, 2018,; “Arab Coalition intercepts ballistic missile over Yemen coastal city,” Al Arabiya, February 18, 2018,; “One Emirati soldier was killed and two others injured in an attack by the Houthis in Hays, southern al Hudaydah,” Al Masdar, February 18, 2018,; “Legitimacy overthrows Houthi's defenses,” Al Bayan, February 18, 2018,; “Houthis suffer major losses in Yemen's Hodeidah,” The National, February 20, 2018,; “Progress of the army in al Jarahi district, latest developments,” Yemen Voice, February 17, 2018,; “Yemeni ambassador condolences to martyr Ali Khalifa Al-Mesmari,” WAM, February 20, 2018,
[5] “Ethiopia says state of emergency will last six months,” Reuters, February 17, 2018,; “A Placeholder Prime Minister Departs. What Comes Next?,” New York Times, February 18, 2018,; “Ethiopia's state of emergency 2.0,” Al Jazeera, February 19, 2018,; and “News: PM Haimeariam’s resignation opens period of uncertainty, State of Emergency undermines smooth transition : EU,” Addis Standard, February 19, 2018,
[6] “Somali forces carry out massive operation near Barawe town,” Radio Shabelle, February 18, 2018,
[7] “Somalia Appoints New Security Chiefs to Combat al-Shabab,” Voice of America, February 19, 2018,; “Somalia appoints Police and Intelligence commanders,” Radio Shabelle, February 19, 2018,; “BREAKING: Major security shake-up after emergency cabinet meeting,” Hiiraan Online, February 19, 2018,; and “Somalia Appoints New NISA, Police & Prison Chiefs,” Radio Dalsan, February 19, 2018,
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