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: Southern secessionists reportedly reach a deal with the Saudi-led coalition; Saudi-led coalition reports al Houthi missile fired at Riyadh failed to launch; anti-al Houthi forces push into last al Houthi stronghold in Taiz city; al Mahrah governor bans establishment of religious centers outside of approved areas

Horn of Africa: Senior Kenyan opposition leader claims to survive an assassination attempt; al Shabaab captures surveillance drone in Kismayo city; Jubbaland President cracks down on opposition MPs

Yemen Security Brief

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) is rumored to have reached a deal with the Saudi-led coalition on January 30. The reported deal would grant southern Yemen more autonomy and establish an independent military but keep the south under President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s authority. The reported deal also stipulates that the Hadi government is allowed to resume its functions in the interim while the STC and coalition establish a government of technocrats. Hadi government forces will also be allowed to temporarily return to their bases in Yemen to recover from recent clashes but are required to vacate the south. Salafi militias facilitated prisoner exchanges and allowed Hadi government forces to enter some military bases in Aden on January 30 and 31. The STC effectively established control over Aden and confined the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir to the Ma’ashiq Presidential Palace on January 29.[1] 

Saudi-led coalition Spokesman Turki al Maliki stated on January 31 that an al Houthi ballistic missile launched on January 30 fell in the desert in northern Yemen. The al Houthi movement claimed to launch a Borkan-H2 long-range ballistic missile targeting Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 30.[2]

Anti-al Houthi forces advanced further east into Taiz city, central Yemen than at any time prior the start of the civil war on January 30. Anti-al Houthi forces pushed into the al Houthi movement’s last stronghold in Taiz city in the al Hawban area, eastern Taiz city. The Hadi government 22nd Mechanized Brigade called on al Houthi forces to surrender themselves and their weapons. Saudi-led coalition-backed forces renewed an offensive to seize the remaining areas of Taiz city held by the al Houthi movement on January 25.[3]

Al Mahrah Governor Rajeh Bakrit banned the establishment of religious centers except in “areas defined by local authority” in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on January 30. Demonstrators protested the establishment of Salafi centers throughout January, calling them extremist religious centers. Bakrit and a Saudi delegation reportedly met with a Salafi group to discuss the establishment of a Salafi center in Qishn city, al Mahrah governorate in early January. The meeting’s participants tasked Salafi Sheikh Yahya bin Ali al Hajuri, who previously ran the Salafi Dar al Hadith center in Dammaj, Sa’ada governorate, with overseeing the management of the center. Dar al Hadith is a well-known Salafi center that educated Salafi-jihadi militants in Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Former Kenyan Vice President and opposition politician Kalonzo Musyoka claimed that political opponents attempted to assassinate him in his home in Nairobi, Kenya on January 31. Musyoka said the attackers fired two gunshots and detonated a grenade at his residence. The alleged attacks occurred after thousands of opposition supporters attended a ceremony to swear in opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga as “the people’s president” on January 30. Musyoka was supposed to be sworn in as Odinga’s deputy president but did not attend the event. Kenyan Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i banned NASA’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), a body that formed to oppose Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in October 2017, in response to Odinga’s inauguration. The government closed down several private television stations on January 30, citing alleged links to the NRM.[5] 

Al Shabaab claimed to seize a surveillance drone in Kismayo city, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on January 31. Al Shabaab has claimed to capture two American drones in this region in the past week. The origin of the drone is not confirmed.[6]

Jubbaland State President Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madhobe continued a crackdown on opposition members of parliament (MPs). Madhobe convened an emergency meeting with opposition MPs to discuss the arrest of MP Ahmed Abdi Hassan Tajir on January 30. Opposition MPs planned a vote of no confidence against Madhobe and his cabinet based on claims of incompetence and nepotism. Madhobe has since stripped opposition members of their immunity, causing five MPs to flee Kismayo to avoid arrest. Madhobe issued a travel ban to prevent opposition MPs from leaving Kismayo.[7]


[1] “Al Mashushi we have received all of the prisoners from the confrontations in Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, January 31, 2018,; “Learn about the terms of the agreement ending the conflict in the capital Aden,” Aden Lang, January 31, 2018,; “Read the details of the terms of the truce between the forces of the southern resistance and legitimacy,” Yafa News, January 31, 2018,; “A mediation committee succeeds in handing over all the prisoners of war in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, January 31, 2018,; “Handover of Jeel Hadid Camp and Prime Minister’s office to the legitimate government,” Aden Tomorrow, January 30, 2018,; “South Yemen clashes abate as separatists cede bases,” Reuters, January 31, 2018,; and “Terms of agreement between the STC and the Saudi-led coalition in Aden,” RT, January 30, 2018,

[2] “Coalition reveals the fact that the targeting of King Khalid Airport in Riyadh failed,” Tawusl, January 31, 2018,

[3] “Announcing the tour of the palace and al Hawban, an al Houthi stronghold in eastern Taiz, a military operations area,” Al Masdar, January 30, 2018,; “Freeing the first areas of al Hawban, eastern Taiz,” Barq Press, January 27, 2018,; and “Taiz: army advancing east and north of the city and downing an al Houthi reconnaissance plane,” Yemen Window, January 27, 2018,

[4] “The governor of al Mahrah instructs the police, endowments and directors of the directorates not to allow the establishment of religious centers,” Al Mahrah news, January 30, 2018,; “The governor of al Mahrah prohibited establishing any religious centers or camps,” Al Omanaa, January 31, 2018,; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, January 9-31,; “Thursday: the arrival of a third batch of Saudi military reinforcements to al Mahrah,” Elsaa News, January 19, 2018,; “Saudi invasion of al Mahrah: Salafi emirate on the borders of Oman?,” Al Akhbar, January 11, 2018,; and “Al Qaeda in Yemen vows revenge for Shi'ite rebel attack on Salafis,” Reuters, November 13, 2013,

[5] “Kenyan opposition leader claims he was victim of assassination attempt,” The Guardian, January 30, 2018,; and “Matiang’i says 3 TV stations to remain shut pending probe,” Daily Nation, January 30, 2018,

[6] “Al Shabaab says seized surveillance drone in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, January 30, 2018,’; and “Shabaab Reports Capturing U.S. Spy Drone in Lower Juba, Hitting 3 SNA Officers in Bomb Blast,” January 25, 2018, available by subscription at

[7] “Madoobe Meets Opposition Mps Amid Criticism Over Arrest Of Lawmaker,” Radio Dalsan, January 30, 2018,; and “Madoobe Issues Travel Ban On Opposition Mps After 5 Flee Kismayo,” Radio Dalsan, January 30, 2018,

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