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: Yemeni government seeks closer counterterrorism cooperation with U.S.; AQAP militants detonate IED targeting Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Zinjibar, Abyan governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces conduct cross-border attack on Saudi forces in Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate two IEDs in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; Somalis and international community celebrate presidential election

Yemen Security Brief

  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is seeking closer counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. Yemeni Ambassador to the U.S. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak called for the U.S. to increase coordination with Yemeni authorities in order to respect Yemen’s sovereignty in future operations. The Yemeni government and the al Houthi-Saleh bloc both criticized the January 29 U.S. raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters in central Yemen as a violation of Yemeni sovereignty. Some elite Yemeni forces may have participated in the U.S. raid. The raid, which caused civilian casualties, sparked widespread backlash among Yemenis against U.S. operations.[1]
  • AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the al Hizam brigade, an Emirati-backed counterterrorism force, in Zinjibar city, southwestern Abyan governorate on February 8. AQAP militants detonated the IED as the al Hizam vehicle exited the city from the east. Al Hizam forces exchanged small arms fire with AQAP militants after the IED blast. Al Hizam forces arrested two suspected AQAP militants in Ja’ar village, north of Zinjibar, earlier on February 8.[2]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted cross-border attacks on Saudi military targets in Hathira town, Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia, on February 8. Al Houthi-Saleh fighters attacked from Haradh district, Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen. Al Houthi media released a video from the raid that shows a burning armored personnel carrier and the body of a Saudi Lieutenant named Abdullah bin Shaiban Hassan al Hamdi. Al Houthi-Saleh forces conduct cross-border attacks from bases in the mountainous regions abutting the western Saudi-Yemeni border. Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed another Saudi officer stationed in Jazan region during a cross-border attack from Haradh district on February 2.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at a Somali militia barracks in Beledweyne town, Hiraan region in central Somalia on February 9. The blasts killed four militiamen and wounded several others, according to pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels. Al Shabaab seized several towns in Hiraan region after Ethiopian AMISOM troops withdrew in September and October 2016. These towns include Halgan, a strategic town located on a major road between Mogadishu and Beledweyne, which al Shabaab seized on October 24.[4]
  • The UN, African Union, European Union, and United States expressed congratulations for the election of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as Somalia’s new president. Thousands of Somali citizens took to the streets in Mogadishu and nationwide to celebrate Farmajo’s victory. Farmajo is viewed as a change candidate with strong anti-corruption credentials. Farmajo defeated incumbent candidate Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose government was accused of rampant corruption and selling influence to foreign governments. President Farmajo stated that he will prioritize improving Somalia’s security environment by working with the African Union and international donors.[5]


[1] “Yemen Seeks Tighter Coordination After U.S. Raid,” The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims IED attack targeting al Hizam forces in Zinjibar, Telegram, February 9, 2017; “Urgent: a roadside bomb kit security in Zinjibar,” Aden Lang, February 8, 2017,; and “Campaign of raids in Ja’ar and arrests of suspected al Qaeda members,” Aden Tomorrow, February 8, 2017,
[3] “Renewed fighting between the Saudi army and rebels on the border,” al Masdar, February 8, 2017,, and “Military Media distributes images of a perfect ambush targeting Saudi Arabian armor in Jizan,” al Masirah, February 8, 2017,
[4] Four killed in two IED blasts in Beledweyne, Telegram, February 9, 2017; and Colin Lahiff, “Ethiopian AMISOM Withdrawals,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, November 4, 2016,
[5] “Somalis celebrate after election of former U.S. state worker as president,” Reuters, February 9, 2017,; and “International partners congratulate new Somali President Farmajo,” Garowe Online, February 9, 2017,
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