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-led coalition forces continue airstrikes on al Houthis in Sana’a governorate; al Houthi officials meet with European diplomats for first time in five years; Sudanese forces withdraw from Mokha on Red Sea coast

Horn of Africa: AMISOM to withdraw 1,000 troops from Somalia by next month; Kenya rotates AMISOM troops in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes targeting al Houthi militants in the Nihm and Khulan districts in eastern Sana’a governorate on January 23. The coalition resumed airstrikes in Nihm district on January 22 in retaliation for a suspected al Houthi ballistic missile and drone attack on a Hadi government military training camp in Ma’rib governorate on January 18. Pro-Hadi government media reported that forces loyal to President Hadi advanced in the Gerges mountain range in Nihm district on or around January 21.[1]

Representatives of the al Houthi-aligned National Salvation Government (NSG) met with three European ambassadors to discuss cooperation between the NSG, United Nations and other international humanitarian aid organizations. EU Ambassador to Yemen Hans Grundberg, EU Ambassador to France Christian Testor, and EU Ambassador of the Netherlands Irma van Dueren arrived in Sana’a on January 19 and20. The diplomats met with al Houthi Prime Minister Abdulaziz Bin Habtoor, President of the Supreme Political Council Mahdi al Mashat, and Supreme Political Council member Mohammad Ali al Houthi. This is the first high-level meeting between the al Houthis and European diplomats since March 2015.[2]

Sudanese troops operating as part of the Saudi-led coalition withdrew from the southwestern Yemeni port city of Mokha. The forces had been gradually withdrawing from the city over the last three months. Newly elected Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok vowed in December 2019 to withdraw Sudanese troops from Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops withdrew from Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on January 23, according to local sources. The African Union envoy to Somalia said earlier this month that AMISOM would withdraw 1,000 troops from the Middle Shabelle region by February 2020.[4]

The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) VIII troop unit withdrew from Kismayo, the capital of southern Somalia’s Jubbaland state, on January 21 after completing an AMISOM rotation. The KDF IX troop unit deployed to Somalia for a year-long assignment to replace the outbound unit. The KDF joined AMISOM in 2012 and provides about 3,000 troops to the force.[5]


[1] “Coalition forces shell al Houthi positions in Sana’a,” Al Mashhad, January 23, 2020,; Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 22, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 22, 2020,; “Report: Nihm Front – A Black Hole Swallows the al Houthis,” Khabar Agency, January 23, 2020,; “Yemen army chief calls to advance towards Sanaa,” Middle East Monitor, January 23, 2020,; and “The Yemeni army liberates the Gerges Mountains on the outskirts of Sanaa,” Teller Report, January 21, 2020,

[2] “Yemen: Houthi government meets with EU ambassadors,” Middle East Monitor, January 22, 2020,

[3] “Yemeni residents welcome withdrawal of Sudanese troops from port city Mocha,” Middle East Eye, January 23, 2020,

[4] “AMISOM troops leave Middle Shabelle region,” Mareeg, January 23, 2020,

[5] Abuga Makori, “KDF troops leave Somali as new contingent travel to Kismayo,” Garowe, January 22, 2020,

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