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. and western countries condemn Iran for supplying al Houthi movement with sophisticated weaponry; UN Humanitarian Coordinator reports Saudi-led coalition policy as major challenge to aid delivery; outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen announces al Houthi refusal to sign peace agreement; Saudi-led coalition calls on international and non-governmental organizations to open offices in Aden; Hadi government accuses al Houthi forces of storming Iraqi embassy in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike targets al Shabaab stronghold in Jilib, Middle Jubba region; SNA and AMISOM forces recapture Moqokori, Hiraan region from al Shabaab; KDF and SNA forces attack al Shabaab militants in Fafadun, Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S., UK, France, and Germany condemned Iran for supplying the al Houthi movement with sophisticated weaponry and called on Iran to cease all activity that would violate a UN Security Council arms embargo on Yemen in a joint statement on February 27. The statement warned that the al Houthi movement’s use of ballistic missiles against Saudi Arabia may cause a broader regional conflict. The statement also called on all parties to the Yemen conflict to adhere to international human rights law and to continue to permit humanitarian aid and commercial goods entrance into all Yemeni ports. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized Russia for blocking a UK-proposed Security Council proposal that would have condemned Iran and threatened to take unilateral action against Iran on February 26. Head of the al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi criticized the U.S. for its statements on the Yemeni conflict on February 27. Al Houthi also accused the UN Security Council of indifference and the outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen of bias in favor of the the Saudi-led coalition.[1] 

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Mark Lowcock reported that the Saudi-led coalition policy to divert containerized cargo to Aden is a major challenge in humanitarian relief efforts in Yemen during a briefing to the UN Security Council on February 27. Lowcock highlighted the importance of al Hudaydah and al Salif ports remaining open without time limits or restrictions. These ports provide access to seventy percent of people in need. Lowcock also reported that access to al Houthi-held areas has recently deteriorated and that the non-payment of salaries is driving the collapse of public services.[2]

Outgoing UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced that the al Houthi movement refused to sign an agreement on a peace proposal at the last minute during his final briefing to the UN Security Council on February 27. Ould Cheikh Ahmed reported that the al Houthi representatives rejected the agreement’s proposed security concessions. Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed that only the Yemeni decision-makers can stop the civil war.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition called on international and non-governmental organizations to open offices in Aden, the Hadi government’s interim capital, on February 28. The statement also praised the UN Panel of Experts January 26 report for confirming Iran’s military support for the al Houthi movement and called for the UN to include leading al Houthi movement leaders to the sanctions list from UN Security Council resolution 2140.[4]

The Hadi government Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused al Houthi forces of storming the Iraqi embassy in Sana’a on February 28. The statement condemned the attack and accused the al Houthi movement of systematically targeting diplomatic missions.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab that killed two militants and wounded another near Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on February 27. AFRICOM stated that no civilians were killed in the strike. U.S. airstrikes have targeted al Shabaab safe havens throughout the Middle and Lower Jubba regions this year. The U.S. has conducted six airstrikes on al Shabaab targets in Somalia since January 2018.[6] 

Somali National Army (SNA) and Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured Moqokori town in Hiraan region, central Somalia from al Shabaab. The joint forces killed 13 al Shabaab militants and seized material used for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Al Shabaab took control of Moqokori in late 2016 after Ethiopian troops withdrew. The group used the town as a base from which it blockaded roads and attacked security forces. Moqokori connects Mahas District to Bulo-Burde district in the Hiraan region. Somali security officials said this operation reopened roads blockaded by al Shabaab, allowing aid delivery to drought victims in HirShabelle State, central Somalia.[7]

The SNA and Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) killed 23 al Shabaab militants in an ambush in Fafadun town, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on February 27. Al Shabaab claimed to kill at least 20 KDF soldiers in the engagement through its Shahada News Agency. Al Shabaab militants detonated a roadside IED targeting KDF troops near Elwaq town in Gedo region on February 25. Al Shabaab planned to use Fafadun as a base to launch more attacks against SNA and KDF forces.[8]

[1] “Joint Statement by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” United States Mission to the United Nations, February 27, 2018,; “4 powers condemn Iran for violating arms embargo on Yemen,” AP News, February 28, 2018,; “President of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee criticizes U.S. statements, the weakness of the United Nations, and the bias of the Security Council and the former UN envoy,” Al Masirah, February 28, 2018,
[2] UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcok’s statement to the UN, February 27, 2018, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
[3] “The UN Special Envoy for Yemen briefs the Security Council,” UN Special Envoy, February 27, 2018,
[4] “Arab coalition calls on international and non-governmental organizations to open offices in Aden,” Aden Lang, February 28, 2018,; and “Arab coalition calls on international organizations to open offices in Aden,” Al Masdar, February 28, 2018,   
[5] “Foreign Ministry deplores the attack by the militia on the Iraqi embassy in Sanaa,” Saba New, February 28, 2018,; and “Al Houthi gunmen storm Iraqi embassy in Sana’a,” Al Mushahid, February 28, 2018,
[6] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM Press Releases, February 27, 2018,; “US says two Al-Shabaab killed in latest Somalia airstrike,” Radio Shabelle, February 28, 2018,; “US concentrates Somalian air campaign around Jilib,” Long War Journal, February 28, 2018,; and “2 Militants Killed Near Jilib US Airstrike,” Radio Dalsan, February 28, 2018,
[7] “Somali troops take over town after Al-Shabaab retreat,” Radio Shabelle, February 28, 2018,; “Somali Army Forces Conducted Ambush, Gun Down 13 Al-Shabaab Militants in Moqokari District,” Strategic Intelligence News, February 28, 2018,; “Somali National Army liberate Moqori town in Hiiraan region,” Somali National News Agency, February 28, 2018,; Harun Maruf Twitter, February 28, 2018,; “Somali forces recapture Moqorki town from Al-Shabaab,” Hiiraan Online, February 28, 2018,; “Somali National Army Liberates Moqori Town In Hiiraan Region,” Jowhar, February 2018,; and “Hirshabelle Calls For Emergency Response As Shabelle River Dries,” Radio Dalsan, February 28, 2018,
[8] “KDF, SNA kill 23 Al-Shabaab militants near Kenyan border in clash,” Standard Media, February 28, 2018,; and “KDF, SNA kill 23 Al-Shabaab militants near Kenyan border in clash,” Radio Shabelle, February 28, 2018,

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