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: UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs meets with al Houthi-Saleh official; al Houthi-Saleh forces conduct cross-border attack into Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Ikhtul village in Taiz governorate; Hadi government forces repel al Houthi-Saleh attack in northwestern Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate Somali intelligence official in Mogadishu; Somali Parliament confirms new Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire

Yemen Security Brief 

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien met with the al Houthi-Saleh governor of Taiz on February 28. O’Brien attempted to tour Taiz city on February 28 as part of a visit to view the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Unidentified forces shelled areas near O’Brien’s convoy, which was escorted by al Houthi-Saleh forces, forcing the convoy to return to Ibb governorate. Al Houthi Movement leader Abdulmalik al Houthi released a statement on February 28 blaming allies of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government for O’Brien’s inability to enter Taiz city. The Hadi government accused the al Houthi-Saleh bloc of turning O’Brien away from Taiz in order to cover up its human rights abuses on February 28.[1]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted a cross-border attack into Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia on March 1. Al Houthi-Saleh forces based along the Saudi-Yemeni border in Shada district, western Sa’ada governorate attacked Saudi military units with a combination of small arms fire and artillery. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to shell al Ma’anaq, Jazan, near Shada district, according to an al Houthi media outlet.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to retake Ikhtul village, Mokha district, western Taiz governorate, from Hadi government forces on February 28. Hadi government forces repelled the attack. Hadi-allied forces seized Ikhtul in late February as part of a larger effort to retake Yemen’s western coast. Hadi forces reported that the attack came from eastern Mokha district, where al Houthi-Saleh forces maintain a stronghold in Camp Khaled ibn Walid. Hadi government forces are currently attempting to push al Houthi-Saleh forces out of Camp Khaled ibn Walid and the neighboring Jebel Nar area. Camp Khaled ibn Walid is positioned along the main road connecting Taiz city to the western coast.[3]

Forces loyal Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack in Usaylan district, northwestern Shabwah governorate on March 1. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also attempted to seize Hadi government-controlled positions in Usaylan district on February 26 and 27. Hadi government-allied forces seized portions of Usaylan and neighboring Bayhan districts in northwestern Shabwah governorate in late December 2016, after reinvigorating an offense in the area. The main road connecting Shabwah to neighboring al Bayda and Ma’rib governorate crosses through Usaylan district. Control over northwestern Shabwah would solidify the Hadi government’s hold over eastern Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinated a Somali intelligence officer with a car bomb in the Dharkenly district of Mogadishu on March 1. The blast killed Aden Abdullahi Isack, a senior officer in Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), and wounded two others. Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate Colonel Adan Rufle in Mogadishu on February 28. Al Shabaab has conducted of wave of assassinations targeting government officials and clan elders in Mogadishu in recent months. Militants have assassinated more than 10 people since late December 2016 in an effort to undermine security in the capital.[5]

Somali parliamentarians approved President Farmajo’s nomination of Hassan Ali Khaire as prime minister on March 1. All 231 parliamentarians voted unanimously to confirm Khaire. Prime Minister Khaire is a Somali-Norwegian citizen who was previously an executive at Soma Oil & Gas. Khaire vowed during a speech following the confirmation vote to prosecute individuals for corruption and graft within the government. UK regulatory agencies investigated Soma Oil & Gas for corruption in 2015 and 2016 until dropping the case due to insufficient evidence.[6]

[1] “Governor of Taiz meets Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs,” Sabanews, February, 28, 2017,; “Foreign Ministry mocks the lies of mercenaries regarding the inability of UN Under-Secretary-General to visit Taiz,” Sabanews, February 28, 2017,; “Government calls for UN to punish rebels for their blocking of O’Brien from entering Taiz,” Barakish, February 28, 2017,; and “UN Aid Chief ‘denied passage’ to Yemen’s Taiz,” AFP, February 28, 2017,
[2] “Witnesses: mutual bombing and fighting between the rebels and Saudi forces in the border areas,” al Masdar, March 1, 2017,; and “Sniped a Saudi soldier in northern al ‘Abadia in Jazan,” al Masirah, March 1, 2017, 8, 2017,
[3] “Government forces repel a violent eastern al Houthi attack in northern city of Mokha,” al Masdar, March 1, 2017,
[4] “Shabwa .. Houthi attack on government forces positions in Usaylan District,” al Masdar, March 1, 2017,; and “Renewed fighting between government forces and armed rebels in the west of Shabwa Usaylan District,” al Masdar, February 27, 2017,
[5] “Bomb under car seat kills Somali intelligence officer,” Shabelle News, March 1, 2017,; and “Top army officer escapes an assassination attempt,” Shabelle News, March 1, 2017,
[6] “Somalia’s new PM vows to prosecute corrupt individuals,” Goobjoog News, March 1, 2017,; and “SFO drops Somali corruption probe into Soma Oil & Gas,” Financial Times, December 14, 2016,
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