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. to continue training of Saudi-led coalition pilots; al Houthi forces capture autonomous underwater vehicle in Red Sea; al Houthi movement appoints 32 officials; Transitional Political Council of the South appoints leaders in five governorates

Horn of Africa: Somali forces raid senator’s home in Mogadishu; Kenyan forces raid al Shabaab hideout in Boni Forest, eastern Kenya; reported U.S. airstrike targets al Shabaab vehicle in Barire, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; UN condemns destruction of IDP camps in Mogadishu; Uganda conducts planned AMISOM troop withdrawal

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced on December 29 that the U.S. will continue to train Saudi-led coalition pilots to identify legitimate targets in an effort to reduce civilian casualties. Mattis criticized the al Houthi movement for stockpiling weapons in residential areas and placing civilians at risk. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 23 civilians in al Hudaydah city, northern Yemen on January 1. The UN reported on December 28 that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 109 civilians over a ten-day period. The U.S. also provides intelligence and refueling support to the Saudi-led coalition.[1] 

Al Houthi forces captured a REMUS 600, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), in the Red Sea on December 31. An American subsidiary of a Norwegian company built the AUV. The REMUS 600 is used for demining operations, surveillance, reconnaissance, and hydrography. Al Houthi forces also claimed to down a Saudi-led coalition drone near the Saudi border in Harad district, Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen on December 30.[2]

The al Houthi movement appointed 32 new ministers, governors, and advisors on January 1. The al Houthi movement began executing, replacing, and indicting government officials previously loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after his death on December 4.[3]

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) appointed members of local STC leadership councils in Aden, Abyan, al Dhaleh, Socotra, and Lahij governorates on December 31 and January 1. The STC is an Emirati-backed governing body that rivals the internationally recognized Hadi government in southern Yemen. STC President Aydarus al Zubaydi appointed Major General Ahmed bin Brik as head of the National Assembly, the STC’s centralized legislative body based in Aden, on December 23.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali security forces raided the home of prominent Somali Federal Government (SFG) senator Abdi Hassan Awale Qaybdiid in Mogadishu on December 30. The soldiers who conducted the raid claimed to be trained by the UAE. The SFG denied responsibility and arrested forty suspects. The upper house of the Somali parliament issued a resolution calling on the SFG defense and interior ministries to prevent future infractions. Intelligence agents raided the house of opposition party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame on charges of treason on December 17. Warsame and Qaybdiid are both members of the Habar Gedir clan. Senator Qaybdiid previously served as the chief of police, Galmudug state president, and interior minister under Habar Gedir clan leader Mohammed Farrah Aidid.[5]

A U.S. airstrike hit an al Shabaab vehicle near Barire in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on January 2, according to Somali regional officials. The strike is not yet confirmed.[6] 

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) raided an al Shabaab hideout in the Boni Forest area near the Somali-Kenyan border on December 31, killing five militants. The KDF recovered a cache of weapons and supplies in the hideout. A stolen Kenyan police vehicle filled with explosives detonated during the gunfight. Al Shabaab militants stole a vehicle during a raid on the Ijara Police Station in Garissa County, eastern Kenya on December 30.[7]

Somali police evicted internally displaced persons (IDPs) and destroyed IDP camps in Mogadishu without notice on December 29 and 30 following a land dispute. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, condemned the destruction of the camps, which affected more than 4,000 IDP households in K13, Kahda distrist, Mogadishu.[8]

Uganda withdrew 281 AMISOM soldiers from Somalia on December 30 as part of the planned withdrawal of 1,000 AMISOM troops by December 31. The five AMISOM troop-contributing countries withdrew four percent of their forces from Somalia in December 2017. AMISOM will deploy 500 police officers in January 2018 to train Somali police and secure SFG-held cities.[9]

[1] “Mattis: US determined to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen,” The Washington Post, December 29, 2017,; and “Suspected Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen kill 23,” Fox News, January 1, 2018,
[2] “Specification of the Aggression’s REMUS 600 submarine seized by the navy in the west coast,” Al Masirah, January 1, 2018,; and “Dropping a hostile spy plane in Haradh,” Al Masirah, December 30, 2017,
[3] “Issuing republican decision by appointing ministers, governors, and officials in the state,” Al Masirah, January 1, 2018,
[4] “President Zubaydi issues a decision to form local leadership in the capital of Aden,” Southern Transitional Council, December 31, 2017,; “President of the Transitional Council issues a decision to form local leadership in Abyan,” Southern Transitional Council, January 1, 2018,; “President Zubaydi issues Resolution No. 26 on the formation of local leadership in al Dhaleh,” Southern Transitional Council, January 1, 2018,; “President of the Southern Transitional Council issues a decision to form local leadership in Socotra,” Southern Transitional Council, January 1, 2018,; and “President of the Southern Transitional Council Zubaydi issues a decision to form local leadership in Lahij,” Southern Transitional Council, January 1, 2018,
[5] Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar,  “Raid on senator's home reveals divisions in Somali security forces,” Reuters, December 30, 2017,; and “Upper House: Resolution on Violations carried out by Government Security Forces on Citizens and Senators,” Goobjoog News, January 2, 2018,
[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 2, 2018,
[7] “Kenya: Five Militants Killed in KDF Strike Near Somali Border,” All Africa, December 31, 2017,; and “Al Shabaab burn Ijara police station,” Daily Nation, December 30, 2017,
[8] “Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia deeply concerned about large-scale destruction of IDP settlements on the outskirts of Mogadishu,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 1, 2018,; and  Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 1,2018,
[9] “Uganda completes first withdrawal of troops in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, December 31, 2017,

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