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: Hadi government reassesses permission for U.S. ground operations in Yemen; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in southern al Bayda governorate; Mokha city market catches fire; UNICEF requests $2.1 billion for humanitarian aid in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali president elected; al Shabaab militants attack multiple locations in Mogadishu area; ISIS-linked militants attack hotel in Boosaaso, Bari region

Yemen Security Brief

  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government may have withdrawn permission for the U.S. to conduct ground operations targeting Salafi-jihadi organizations in Yemen, according to statements by U.S. officials. The alleged withdrawal of permission would not affect U.S. drone strikes and military advisors. The Hadi government’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi, denied reports that his government suspended U.S. ground operations. Mikhlafi stated that the Hadi government asked for a “reassessment” in response to a U.S. operation in late January. U.S. Special Operation Forces (SOF) conducted a raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters in central Yemen on January 29 that caused civilian casualties, sparking outrage throughout Yemen. The Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh bloc both condemned the raid as a violation of Yemeni sovereignty.[1]
  • AQAP militants claimed to attack al Houthi-Saleh forces near Tiab village, southern al Bayda governorate on February 8. AQAP militants fired multiple artillery pieces and a heavy machine gun at al Houthi-Saleh forces. AQAP last claimed an attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda on February 6.[2]
  • A reported explosion caused a fire in market in central Mokha city, Taiz governorate on February 7. Al Houthi media alleged that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike caused the fire. Pro-Hadi government sources accused fleeing al Houthi-Saleh forces of shelling the market. Heavy fighting persists between al Houthi-Saleh and Hadi government forces in northwestern neighborhoods of Mokha city.[3]
  • 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. The famine is expected to affect 12 million people and further exacerbate widespread food insecurity. More than three million Yemenis are already acutely malnourished.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somalia’s Federal Parliament elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new president of Somalia. Farmajo is a dual U.S.-Somali citizen who served as the prime minister of Somalia from 2010 to 2011. Somali parliamentarians gathered at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu to cast votes. The election follows multiple postponements and widespread allegations of corruption throughout the electoral process. Al Shabaab attempted to disrupt the election by targeting parliamentarians and government officials in Mogadishu over the last few months. Somali security forces locked down Mogadishu and conducted security sweeps in preparation for the election.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked multiple locations in Mogadishu and surrounding areas on February 7, on the eve of the presidential election. Militants attacked an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Albao town, located on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab militants also bombarded Mogadishu with at least five mortar shells, some of which struck near Aden Adde International Airport where presidential elections are taking place. Voting continued despite al Shabaab’s attempts to disrupt the process.[6]
  • Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants attacked the Village Hotel in the coastal city of Boosaaso, Bari region in northern Somalia on February 8. The militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) and stormed the hotel, killing four security guards. The militants targeted a pro-government militia leader who lives in the hotel, according to statements from ISIS and the pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency. ISIS released the names and photographs of the two attackers, Farhan Diri and Mahmoud Ahmad. ISIS-linked militants maintain limited operational capabilities in Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in northeastern Somalia. ISIS-linked militants abducted and executed three Puntland soldiers outside nearby Qandala town on February 1.[7]


[1] “Yemen Withdraws Permission for U.S. Antiterror Ground Missions,” New York Time, February 7, 2017,; and “Yemen seeks 'reassessment' of deadly raid but denies U.S. ground operations suspended,” Politico, February 8, 2017,
[2] AQAP militants claimed to launch a complex attack against al Houthi-Saleh forces near Tiab village, al Bayda governorate, Telegram, February 7, 2017.
[3] “A number of citizens martyred in airstrikes in Mokha market, Taiz,” Sabanews, February 7, 2017,; “Houthis shell Mokha market after fleeing,” al Mashad al Yemeni, February 7, 2017,; and “Government forces liberate the port of Mokha and a coastal strip of Taiz,” al Masdar, February 8, 2017,
[4] Stephanie Nebahay, “U.N. seeks $2.1 billion to avert famine in Yemen,” Reuters, February 8, 2017,; and “UNICEF reviews its operations and projects over the past year at press conference in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, February 8, 2017,
[5] “Somalia presidential vote at Mogadishu airport,” BBC News, February 8, 2017,; Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “U.S.-educated former prime minister wins Somali presidential vote,” Reuters, February 8 ,2017,
[6] “Two Mortar Rounds Hit Near Voting Site Day Before Somalia Vote,” Associated Press, February 7, 2017,; and Explosions Heard in Mogadishu, Twitter, February 7, 2017,
[7] “Amaq Reports IS Fighters Responsible for Hotel Attack in Boosaaso,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 8, 2017,; “Somalia ends operation to secure hotel bombed by militants,” Mareeg, February 8, 2017,; “IS Claims Raid on Hotel in Somali City of Bosaso,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 8, 2017,  
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