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: Saudi King orders $2 billion deposit into Yemen’s Central Bank; Saudi-led coalition allows four cranes to be installed at al Hudaydah port, western Yemen; al Houthi forces launch two ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia; AQAP militants ambush al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab spokesperson disavows former deputy leader; Southwest State forces arrest three al Shabaab militants in southern Somalia; Puntland deploys troops from Nugaal region to disputed Sool region

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi King Abdulaziz bin Salman ordered a $2 billion deposit into Yemen’s Aden-based Central Bank on January 17. Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir pleaded for funds to prop up the Yemeni riyal and avert hunger on January 16. Saudi authorities reported the deposit is not a loan and the Hadi government will not have to pay it back. The Hadi government is facing a  cash liquidity crisis and has been unable to regularly pay most government salaries. The Central Bank began to float the Yemeni riyal on August 14, 2017, allowing the value of the riyal to drop below 250 to one U.S. dollar. The riyal reached a new low of 500 to the dollar on January 16.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition allowed four cranes donated by the U.S. to be installed at al Hudaydah port, western Yemen on January 15. The coalition has blocked the World Food Programme’s efforts to install new cranes since coalition airstrikes destroyed the original cranes in August 2015. Eighty percent of Yemeni imports and international aid comes through al Hudaydah port. The Saudi-led coalition pledged on December 19 not to blockade al Hudaydah port for thirty days following an al Houthi missile attack that targeted Riyadh. The pledged period ends on January 19.[2]

Al Houthi forces launched two ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia on January 16. Saudi air defense systems intercepted a short range ballistic missile intended to strike the regional airport in Jazan, southwestern Saudi Arabia. The al Houthi movement claimed to successfully hit the target. Al Houthi forces also fired a Qaher-M2 ballistic missile at Saudi military forces in Najran, southwestern Saudi Arabia.[3] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed al Houthi forces in Wald Rabi’ district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on January 16. AQAP fights alongside local tribal forces in northwestern al Bayda to gain local support.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab spokesperson Ali Mohamed Rage disavowed former deputy leader Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur in a video released by an al Shabaab-affiliated social media account on January 16. Abu Mansur left al Shabaab in 2013 and defected to the Somali Federal Government (SFG) on August 15, 2017. Abu Mansur has fought al Shabaab militants in the Bakool region for the SFG since his defection.[5] 

Southwest State forces arrested two al Shabaab militants near Gofgudud, Bay region, southern Somalia on January 17. The state forces freed five civilians detained by the militants. Southwest forces also arrested one militant in Furuqley village near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia. The arrests follow three al Shabaab attacks on military bases near Gofgudud and Afgoi on January 15 and 16.[6]

Puntland deployed forces from the Nugaal region to the Sool region, northern Somalia to contest the disputed territory with Somaliland on January 17. Puntland State President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas threatened to retaliate against Somaliland on January 10 for capturing Tuko Raq town, Sool region from Puntland on January 8.[7]

[1] “Saudi Arabia deposits $2 billion in Yemen central bank to back currency,” Reuters, January 17, 2018,; “Yemen seeks Saudi cash as plunging currency deepens war woes,” Reuters, January 17, 2018,; and Ahmed bin Daghir, Twitter, January 16, 2018,
[2] “Cranes arrive in Hodeidah to boost Yemen food aid flow: U.N.,” Reuters, January 15, 2018,
[3] “A short range ballistic missile hits Jazan Regional Airport,” Al Masirah, January 16, 2018,; “Saudi air defenses intercept a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis on Jazan,” Al Masdar, January 16, 2018,; “A few hours after targeting Jazan airport, the Qaher-M2 ballistic missile hits the center of Saudi military operations in Najran,” Al Masirah, January 16, 2018,; and “Saudi Arabia shoots down Yemeni missile Ekhbariya TV,” Reuters, January 16, 2018,
[4] AQAP militants ambush al Houthi forces,” Telegram, January 16, 2018.
[5] Abdi Sheikh, “Somalia's al Shabaab denounces ex-spokesman as apostate who could be killed,” Reuters, January 16, 2018,
[6] “Five Al-Shabaab militants arrested in southwest Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, January 17, 2018,; and “5 Alshabaab Captives Freed, 3 Militants Nabbed In Bay & Lower Shabelle,” Radio Dalsan, January 17, 2018,
[7] “Somaliland Threatens Retaliation As Puntland Deploys Troops In Sool,” Radio Dalsan, January 17, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '18
Jan '18
Dec '17