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 seizes center of Hajar district in Hadramawt governorate; the al Houthi movement fires at least two ballistic missile at Emirati forces in Ma'rib governorate

Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants detonate SVBIEDs in Mogadishu; Ethiopian ruling party to select new prime minister on March 1; Djibouti begins general legislative elections

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized control of the center of Hajar valley and clashed with Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hajar district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on February 22. AQAP seized public buildings and established checkpoints near two villages in the valley. Hadhrami Elite Forces established a checkpoint at the main entrance to Hajar valley. Spokesman for the Hadi government Second Military Region denied reports of AQAP’s takeover of Hajar. The UAE launched an operation on February 14 to clear AQAP from its strongholds in Amd district, Daw’an district, and al Mesini valley, coastal Hadramawt. Hadhrami Elite Forces claimed to clear al Mesini valley on February 18.[1] 

The al Houthi movement fired at least two ballistic missiles targeting a Saudi-led coalition Patriot missile defense system east of Ma’rib City, Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen on February 23. The Saudi-led coalition intercepted the ballistic missiles, according to local sources. The al Houthi movement previously fired a ballistic missile at an Emirati Patriot missile defense system after disabling its radar system with a kamikaze drone in Mokha district, Taiz governorate, western Yemen on February 9.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab suicide bombers detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on February 23. The bombs detonated near the headquarters of the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency and the Presidential Palace. Somali National Army (SNA) forces repulsed al Shabaab militants targeting the Presidential Palace. The Somali Federal Government issued a terror warning for an imminent attack in Mogadishu on February 23.[3] 

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition will meet on March 1 to approve the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and elect a new party chairman to serve as Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) replaced its chairman Lemma Megersa with Abiy Ahmed on February 22, indicating its intent to field Ahmed as a candidate for prime minister. The Oromo and Amhara communities organized anti-government protests that forced Ethiopian authorities to free thousands of political prisoners and led to Desalegn’s resignation on February 15. The Ethiopian government imposed a six-month state of emergency on February 16 that prohibits unauthorized demonstrations, requires permission for statements to the media, allows police to arrest anyone suspected of violating “the constitutional order,” and more.[4]

Djibouti began general legislative elections for its National Assembly on February 23. Djibouti’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), boycotted the election, citing a lack of transparency. The MRD also boycotted the 2016 presidential election, in which incumbent President Ismail Omar Guelleh won about 86% of the vote. The ruling party, the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP), is expected to win most of the seats. The UMP currently holds 43 of the 65 seats in the National Assembly. Djibouti is a strategic location for major foreign military bases, including American and Chinese installations.[5]

[1] “Know the current situation in the administration of Hajar after the rule of al-Qaeda,” 7adramout, February 22, 2018,; “Al Qaeda controls Hajar district in Hadramawt governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, February 22, 2018,; “Hadramawt: clashes between the army and al Qaeda forces in the center of Hajar district,” Barakish, February 22, 2018,; “The Second Military Zone denies the control of al Qaeda elements in Hajar district,” 7adramout, February 22, 2018,; “Al Qaeda has two checkpoints in Hadramawt,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, February 23, 2018,; and “Al Qaeda announces control of Hajar valley in Hadramawt,” Al Mushahid, February 22, 2018,

[2] “Missile force targets Saudi-led coalition defense system east of Marib city,” Saba, February 23, 2018,; and “Coalition intercepts ballistic missile fired by Houthis at Marib,” Al Masdar, February 23, 2018,
[3] “Government issues 'terror warning' in Mogadishu,” Hiiraan Online, February 23, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, February 23, 2018,; Associated Press Africa, Twitter, February 23, 2018,; and “ 2 blasts, gunfire rock Somalia’s capital; 3 said killed,” Associated Press, February 23, 2018,  
[4] “Breaking news: Preceded by its executive, EPRDF Council to begin eagerly awaited meeting on March 01,” Addis Standard, February 21, 2018,; “Ethiopia reveals details of 6-month state of emergency,” Al Jazeera, February 22, 2018,; and “Ethiopia discloses details of state of emergency period restrictions,” Xinhua, February 22, 2018,
[5] “Djibouti’s Main Opposition Party Boycotts Legislative Elections,” Voice of America, February 23, 2018,; and “Djibouti voters go the polls in a general election,” Hiiraan Online, February 23, 2018,
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