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: U.S. DoD to investigate 29 JAN SOF raid in Yemen; militants prevent UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs from entering Taiz city; popular resistance forces assassinate prominent al Houthi judge in Dhamar city; al Houthi-Saleh forces launch ballistic missile toward Hadi government forces in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Somalia declares current drought conditions a national disaster; Somali President Farmajo appeals for Saudi intervention in UAE base dispute in Somaliland; suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate government official with car bomb in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) plans to conduct a “three-pronged” review of the January 29 U.S. Special Operation Forces (SOF) raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters in central Yemen, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The review will investigate the death of one U.S. Navy SEAL, civilian casualties, and the destruction of a helicopter in the raid. Unnamed U.S. officials told NBC News that the raid did not produce any significant intelligence on February 27. The White House and defense officials have previously stated that the raid yielded useful intelligence.[1]

Militants prevented UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien from entering Taiz city, Taiz governorate, to survey the humanitarian situation in the contested city on February 28. Al Houthi-Saleh forces escorted O’Brien after a meeting with the al Houthi-appointed governor of Ibb governorate, Abdul Wahid Salah, on February 27. Anti-al Houthi gunmen may have attacked O’Brien’s convoy on the road to Taiz city. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Foreign Minister, Abdulmalik al Mikhlafi, claimed that O’Brien’s convoy came under fire as a result of deliberate escalation by al Houthi-Saleh forces. O’Brien is expected to meet with al Houthi Human Rights Minister Alia Faisal Abdullatif on February 28 to discuss the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of Sana’a airport.[2]

Anti-al Houthi popular resistance forces assassinated a prominent al Houthi judge in Dhamar city of central Dhamar governorate, on February 28. The victim was Yahya Moussa al Mutawakil, a former al Houthi Justice Minister and senior advisor to the al Houthi movement in Dhamar governorate. Popular resistance forces in Dhamar began a series of ambushes against al Houthi-Saleh forces for the first time in over a year on February 15. Unidentified gunmen attempted to assassinate Abu Ali Daylami, an al Houthi-Saleh field commander, in Dhamar city on January 3.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired a ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Ma’rib governorate on February 28. Saudi-led coalition Patriot air defense systems intercepted the missile.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared the current drought and worsening humanitarian crisis in Somalia a national disaster on February 28. President Farmajo released a statement appealing to the international community to provide urgent assistance in order to avoid a humanitarian tragedy. The World Health Organization (WHO) determined that half of Somalia’s population, more than 6.2 million people, requires urgent assistance. Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, warned that Somalia has reached a critical point due to drought conditions and poor access to basic services. The UN asked the international community to provide $825 million for the first half of 2017 to deal with humanitarian crises affecting regions across Africa and the Middle East.[5]

President Farmajo appealed to Saudi Arabia to intervene in a dispute regarding the construction of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) naval base in Berbera in Somaliland state in northern Somalia. The disagreement stems from claims by the Somali Federal Government that the construction of the port is in violation of Somali sovereignty and is therefore illegal. Somaliland is an autonomous state in northern Somalia that has demanded international recognition as an independent state for decades. The UAE has constructed similar military bases elsewhere in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including in Eritrea and on Perim, a Yemeni island in the Bab al Mandab Strait.[6]

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb that killed a government official, Abdirahman Afleershe, in the Waberi district of Mogadishu on February 28. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Shabaab has intensified a campaign of assassinations and vehicle-born improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in recent weeks. The group has targeted government officials and clan elders who took part in Somalia’s parliamentary and presidential election process.[7]


[1] Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, and Ken Dilanian, “Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials,” NBC News, February 28, 2017,; and Ben Kamisar, “White House: DOD to probe raid that led to Navy SEAL casualty,” The Hill, February 27, 2017,
[2] “Denied access on frontline,” Twitter, @UNReliefChief, February 28, 2017,; “Governor of Ibb meets Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Humanitarian Affairs,” Sabanews, February 28, 2017,; “Mikhlafi: Rebels prevent O’Brien entering Taiz, exposes McGoldrick,” al Masdar, February 28, 2017,; and “Minister of Human Rights will meet Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Humanitarian Affairs,” Sabanews, February 28, 2017,
[3] “Yemeni Scholars Association mourns the Martyr Yahya bin Muhammed Musa,” Saadahnews, February 28, 2017,; and “Al Houthi leader assassinated in city of Dhamar,” Barakish, February 28, 2017,
[4] “Patriot intercepts a ballistic missile over Ma’rib,” Barakish, February 28, 2017,
[5] “President Declares National Disaster,” Mareeg, February 28, 2017,; “WHO scales up response in Somalia as drought-affected populations face difficult situation,” World Health Organization, February 27, 2017,; and “Drought threatens 1.5 million Somalis; UN health agency scales up response,” UN News Centre, February 27, 2017,
[6] “Farmajo Seeks Saudi Arabia Intervention in Controversial Berbera UAE Military Base,” All Africa, February 24, 2017,
[7] Harun Maruf, “Blast Kills One in Somali Capital,” Voice of America, February 28, 2017,; and “A local Govt official killed in Mogadishu car bomb blast,” Shabelle News, February 28, 2017,
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