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: Al Houthi movement refuses to negotiate until end of UN Special Envoy’s tenure; al Mahrah police to extradite seven detainees to Saudi-led coalition; AQAP militants ambush al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenyan authorities end media shutdown; al Shabaab IED attack strikes SNA checkpoint in Afgoi district, Lower Shabelle region; Somali National Security Council meets to reform security sector

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement reportedly refused to negotiate with the UN until the tenure of current UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed ends at the end of February. British mediator Martin Griffiths will likely replace Ould Cheikh Ahmed, whom the al Houthi movement declared a persona non grata in June 2017. Al Houthi Spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam arrived in Oman on January 27. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi on February 7.[1]

Police in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen transferred seven detainees arrested in al Ghaydah city to the Saudi-led coalition on February 7. The detainees will be extradited to Saudi Arabia. Al Mahrah Governor Rajeh Bakrit stated that the detainees aimed to destabilize the governorate. Saudi-led coalition forces deployed to al Mahrah in November 2017 to counter Iranian smuggling to the al Houthi movement.[2] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed al Houthi forces in al Zub area, al Quraishyah district, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on February 6. AQAP fights alongside anti-al Houthi forces in al Bayda to position itself as a protector of local Sunni communities.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan authorities restored the broadcasts of two television channels on February 8, ending a media crackdown. Authorities reopened Inooro TV and Citizen TV on February 8. The Kenyan government shut down private television stations to block live coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic inauguration on January 30. The Kenyan government reinstated the broadcasts of KTN News and NTV on February 5, three days after a Kenyan court ordered the Communications Authority to resume transmissions. The U.S., EU, and African Union criticized the media crackdown and expressed concern with the rule of law in Kenya. Kenyan police have arrested three opposition figures who participated in the January 30 ceremony. The government released two opposition figures on bail and deported opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna to Canada on February 7. Kenyan police have not arrested Odinga.[4]

Al Shabaab militants killed at least two Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers with a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) in Afgoi district, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on February 7. Al Shabaab detonated the roadside IED at a security checkpoint. Al Shabaab’s Shahada News Agency claimed that the attack killed five soldiers and injured four others. Al Shabaab has increased attacks targeting security forces on the road linking Afgoi to Mogadishu in recent weeks.[5] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and leaders of Somalia’s federal and regional governments are concluding a National Security Council meeting in Villa Somalia, Mogadishu. The meeting began on February 6. Officials discussed plans to restructure the SNA, stabilize Somalia before the 2020 elections, reform the security sector, and determine the transition plan for the withdrawal of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in 2020. The Somali National Security Council has met six times since its establishment in April 2017.[6] 

[1] “Houthis retreat from negotiations with the United Nations in Muscat,” Al Masdar, February 8, 2018,; and “Spokesman for the Houthis arrives in Muscat and reveals the reasons for his visit,” Arabi 21, January 28, 2018,
[2] “Al Mahrah police arrested 7 subversive elements and the coalition flew them to Saudi Arabia by air,” Al Mahrah News, February 7, 2018,; and “Al Mahrah police arrested 7 subversive elements,” Saba New, February 7, 2018,
[3] AQAP militants ambush al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, February 7, 2018.
[4] “Final Kenyan television shut down by government back on air,” Reuters, February 8, 2018,; and “Citizen, Inooro TV finally back on air after 10 days,” The Star, February 8, 2018,
[5] “Two Somali soldiers killed in IED explosion Afgoye district,” Radio Shabelle, February 8, 2018,; and “2 SNA Soldiers Killed In Explosion Near Afgoye,” Radio Dalsan, February 7, 2018,
[6] “Somali political leaders to wrap up key forum in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, February 8, 2018,; and “National Security Conference to be concluded today,” Hiiraan Online, February 8, 2018,

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