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: Al Houthi spokesman responds to coalition offensive and reestablishes UN contact; al Houthi movement releases 179 political prisoners in Sana’a; AQAP emir lectures on medieval war

Horn of Africa: Somali PM calls for expedited debt forgiveness; al Shabaab IED targets police in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad threatened to disrupt navigation in the Red Sea if the Saudi-led coalition continues to advance toward al Hudaydah port on January 8. Samad met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on the same day, reestablishing communications between the UN and the al Houthi movement. Al Samad and Ould Cheikh Ahmed discussed the humanitarian situation and the release of al Houthi-held political prisoners.[1]

The al Houthi movement released 179 political prisoners in Sana’a on January 8. Al Houthi forces began detaining supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after Saleh’s death in December 2017. The General People’s Congress (GPC) party faction in Sana’a called on the al Houthi movement to release all GPC prisoners on January 7.[2] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emir Qasim al Raymi released the eighteenth lecture in a series on a medieval war treatise on January 9. AQAP released the previous episode on December 13. U.S. Central Command reported on December 20 that U.S. operations degraded AQAP’s media capabilities.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire urged international lenders to expedite Somalia’s debt relief so that the government can acquire additional funds to combat al Shabaab on January 7. The UN Representative to Somalia Michael Keating backed Khaire’s call, citing budgetary constraints as a major limitation for the fight against al Shabaab.[4] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting three Somali police officers patrolling on October 21 Road in Mogadishu on January 9. Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting Somali security forces in nearby Sinka Dheer on January 8.[5] 

[1] “President Samad during his meeting with UN Envoy: the Aggression’s continued escalation towards al Hudaydah drives us to use our options in the Red Sea,” Al Masirah, January 9, 2018,
[2] “Information Minister: Release of those 179 involved in the sedition events confirms the leadership’s keenness to reflect the concept of the partnership,” Saba News, January 8, 2018,
[3] AQAP releases al Raymi lecture video, January 9, 2018, Telegram; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, January 9, 2018,
[4] “Somalia calls for accelerated debt relief to fight terrorism,” Financial Times
[5] “IED explosion targets gov’t forces in Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, January 9, 2018,

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