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: Hadi government forces sever al Houthi supply route between Taiz and al Hudaydah governorates, western Yemen; Saudi-led coalition provides safe passage to officials loyal to late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh; Hezbollah leader states al Houthi movement to continue resistance against Saudi-led coalition; AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali Prime Minister replaces three ministers; Kenya increases security in Mandera County

Yemen Security Brief

Hadi government forces backed by Emirati troops severed an al Houthi supply route between Taiz city, central Yemen and al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on January 3, according to an Emirati news agency. Hadi government forces attacked al Houthi positions between al Khawkhah city and Hays city in al Hudaydah governorate, consolidating gains made in December 2017. Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed al Houthi forces in Zabid city, al Hudaydah.[1] 

The Saudi-led coalition is providing safe passage to officials previously loyal to late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Major General Ali Saleh al Ahmar, former commander of the Republican Guard and half brother of late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 4. Saudi-led coalition Spokesman Turki al Maliki pledged refuge for Republic Guard officers and General People’s Congress (GPC) leaders on January 4. Al Ahmar and seven other military and GPC leaders fled to Ma’rib city from al Houthi-controlled Sana’a city on January 3. An ad hoc committee led by Ali Mohsen al Ahmar is receiving GPC and military leadership in Ma’rib, according to local sources.[2]

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated the al Houthi movement will not surrender so long as the Saudi-led coalition continues to pursue a military solution in Yemen during a Lebanese television interview on January 4. Nasrallah also named the al Houthi movement as part of Iran’s axis of resistance.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi forces in Jamjim area, al Zahir district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on January 3, according to an unofficial AQAP-affiliated social media channel. U.S. Central Command reported on December 20 that ongoing U.S. operations have degraded AQAP’s media capabilities.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire fired and replaced three ministers on January 4. Ahmed Isa Awad, formerly the Somali Ambassador to the U.S., replaced Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad Omar. Mohammed Abdi Sabriye, a businessman, replaced Interior Minister Abdi Farah Said Juha. Mohammed Abdi Hayir, a parliamentarian and former information minister, replaced Commerce and Labor Minister Khadra Ahmed Duale. The reshuffle is the latest in a series of top-level changes in the Somali cabinet. President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo replaced the defense minister and the head of the Somali military in October 2017. The heads of national security and the police resigned in October and their positions remain vacant.[5]

Kenya deployed additional security forces to the Kenyan-Somali border in Mandera County on January 3. The deployment is a response to an al Shabaab ambush on a police vehicle in Mandera on January 2. Al Shabaab attacks along the road connecting Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa counties in eastern Kenya have forced buses to take alternate routes, leaving residents without adequate transportation.[6] 

[1] “UAE Armed Forces, Yemeni Resistance cut off Houthi supply line between Taiz and al Hudaydah,” WAM, January 3, 2018,; “Arab Coalition aircraft targets Houthi groups in Zabid,” Aden Tomorrow, January 4, 2018,; and “Saudi-led coalition says has cut Houthi supply line: report,” Reuters, January 3, 2018,
[2] “Major General Ali Saleh al Ahmar in Riyadh,” Barakish, January 4, 2018,; “The coalition promises Republican Guard officers safe passage,” Barakish, January 4, 2018,; “The first individual of the Saleh family arrives in Ma’rib and declares support for the legitimacy of President Hadi,” Marib Press, January 3, 2018,; and “Seven GPC leaders arrive in Ma’rib,” January 3, 2018,
[3] “Nasrallah says al Houthis will not surrender if Saudi Arabia continues its military operations,” Al Masdar, January 4, 2018,; and “Hassan Nasrallah says al Houthis will support him with fighters,” Barakish, January 4, 2018,
[4] Maher Farrukh, Twitter, January 3, 2018,
[5] “Somalia PM sacks three ministers as country battles insurgency,” Reuters, January 4, 2018,; “Somalia: Prime Minister sacks 3 cabinet members,” Garowe Online, January 4, 2018,; and Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somali Defense Minister, Army Chief Resign,” Voice of America, October 12, 2017,
[6] “Kenya beefs up security at border as al-Shabaab kills 5 police officers,” Radio Shabelle, January 3, 2018,

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