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: UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to visit Taiz city; al Houthi-Saleh rocket attack kills Saudi police officer in Dhahran region, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush KDF forces with IEDs in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab militants seize coastal Elhur town in Mudug region; al Shabaab militants fire mortar shells into Mogadishu on inauguration day

Yemen Security Brief

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien will visit Taiz in the coming week to address the declining humanitarian situation in the city. This visit follows a report by Amnesty International accusing al Houthi-Saleh forces of preventing the delivery of medical supplies to civilians in Taiz on February 21. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen also released a report on January 31 accusing al Houthi-Saleh forces of obstructing medical services in Taiz city. The Disasters Emergency Committee, which coordinates humanitarian efforts by UK-based aid organizations, stated that it will supply over $25 million of support for communities suffering from famine as a result of the war on February 23. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Yemen Michelle Rilano requested $2.1 billion for humanitarian programs in Yemen in an effort to fight the country’s emerging drought and famine on February 8. The famine is expected to affect 12 million people and further exacerbate widespread food insecurity.[1]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a series of Katyusha rockets into Dhahran, Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia, on February 22. Saudi Civil Defense reported that the attack killed a police sergeant and forced local schools to close for the day. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have conducted frequent cross-border attacks into southern Saudi Arabia throughout February, killing at least twelve Saudi Border Guards between February 5 and 14.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants conducted a series of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks targeting Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) convoys in Lower Jubba region between February 20 and February 23. Al Shabaab militants ambushed a KDF convoy near the port city of Kismayo in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on February 20. The militants opened fire after detonating a roadside IED between Abdale Birole village and Kismayo. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that the militants destroyed a military vehicle, killed two KDF soldiers, and wounded five others. Al Shabaab militants ambushed a second convoy carrying KDF and Jubbaland forces near Kismayo on February 22. The militants claimed to destroy the vehicle and kill several soldiers. Al Shabaab militants conducted an IED ambush on a third KDF convoy between Tabto and Dhobley villages in Lower Jubba region near the Somalia-Kenya border on February 23. Kenyan parliamentarians have increased demands for the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia in response to attacks on Kenyan convoys and bases in Somalia in recent months.[3]

Al Shabaab militants seized Elhur town, Mudug region in central Somalia on February 23. Elhur town is located 45 kilometers south of the coastal town of Hobyo in Mudug region. The militants seized Elhur after Galmudug State security forces deserted the area. Al Shabaab militants seized Amara town after forcing Galmudug State security forces to retreat on February 21. Al Shabaab controls multiple towns in southwestern Mudug region, an area where African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) forces do not operate. The group has capitalized on armed conflict between Galmudug and Puntland states to conduct attacks in Galkayo and seize territory in the past year.[4]

Suspected al Shabaab militants fired mortar shells into the Kawo Godey area of Wadajir district in Mogadishu on February 22. The attack, which took place shortly after the inauguration of President Farmajo, wounded at least five people. Al Shabaab has conducted a series of vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks, mortar bombardments, and assassinations of clan elders and government officials in Mogadishu in recent weeks. Al Shabaab officials recently threatened to wage a “vicious war” against the new Somali administration under President Farmajo.[5]

 [1] “UN Undersecretary to visit Taiz next week,” Barakish, February 23, 2017,; “High-ranking UN official plans a visit to Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, February 23, 2017,; “Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of the World’s Human Rights,” Amnesty International, February 21, 2017,; “Letter dated 27 January 2017 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, January 31, 2017,; DEC announces £20 million for the emergency in Yemen - a country on the brink of famine,” Disasters Emergency Committee, February 23, 2017,; and Lisa Schlein, “UN Launches $2.1B emergency appeal for millions in war-torn Yemen,” Voice of America, February 8, 2017,
[2] “Suspension of classes in Dhahran because of Shi’ite shelling,” al Watan News, February 22, 2017,; and “Houthi elements kill police sergeant in Dharan south,” Twitter, February 22, @SaudiDCD,
[3] “Al Shabaab seizes town in central Somalia,” Garowe Online, February 23, 2017,; Live From Mogadishu, Fierce Fighting between KDF and al Shabaab in the outskirts of Kismayo, Twitter, February 22, 2017,; “Roadside bomb targets KDF convoy traveling near Kismayo town,” Garowe Online, February 20, 2017,; and “Uhuru Urged to Withdraw KDF Soldiers From Somalia,” All Africa, February 5, 2017,
[4] “Al Shabaab seizes town in central Somalia,” Garowe Online, February 23, 2017,; and “Al Shabaab fighters seize Amara village in Mudug region,” Garowe Online, February 21, 2017,
[5] “Mortar attack in Somali capital wounds 5 people,” Mareeg, February 22, 2017,
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