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: U.S. Secretary of State meets with Saudi counterpart; Pakistan pledges aid to Yemen; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Pirates hijack first cargo ship off Somali coast in nearly five years; Kenyan police arrest alleged al Shabaab support cell in southwestern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief  

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir in Washington D.C. to discuss the Yemeni civil war and counterterrorism efforts on March 13. Al Jubeir’s visit precedes a scheduled visit by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman on March 16. The Deputy Crown Prince is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump to propose a plan to counter Iran and seek investment in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program.[1]

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi met with Pakistani Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 14. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to provide $1 million in aid to the Yemeni government on March 14. Pakistan may have also agreed to deploy between 1,500 and 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia’s southern border, according to a March 13 report by Middle East Eye. If confirmed, the deployment reinforces reports that al Houthi-Saleh cross-border attacks are straining Saudi Arabia’s civil defense capabilities.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on March 14. AQAP militants killed five al Houthi-Saleh troops in A’arfaf area, al Dhaleh governorate, near the al Dhaleh-Ibb governorate border. AQAP also claimed to kill at least one al Houthi-Saleh soldier with small arms fire in Zahir area, central al Bayda governorate on March 14. These attacks are the first claimed by AQAP in central Yemen since the U.S. conducted five consecutive days of airstrikes targeting AQAP between March 2 and 6. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed three consecutive days of attacks targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate between March 10 and 12.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Pirates hijacked a UAE-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region on March 14. This is hijacking, if confirmed, would be the first hijacking of a large cargo ship off the coast of Somalia in nearly five years. The ship was traveling from Mogadishu toward Djibouti with a cargo of oil and foodstuffs when pirates diverted it to the port town of Alula, Puntland region.[4]

Kenyan police arrested a family accused of supporting al Shabaab in Malinidi, southwestern Kenya, on March 13. Kenyan authorities accused the family of being a part of a cell that planned attacks in Mombasa, Kenya. [5]

[1] “Department Press Briefing - March 13, 2017,” U.S. Department of State, March 13, 2017,; and Joyce Karam, “Deputy crown prince leaves for Washington as Saudi FM meets Tillerson,” Arab News, March 14, 2017,
[2] “Pakistan reiterates support to war-shattered Yemen,” Gulf News, March 14, 2017,; “PM announces $1m humanitarian aid for Yemen,” The Nation, March 14, 2017,; and David Hearst, “Pakistan sends combat troops to southern Saudi border,” Middle East Eye, March 13, 2017,
[3] AQAP claims its militant killed an al Houthi-Saleh soldier near Jebel Melih, Zahir, al Bayda, Telegram, March 14, 2017.
[4] “Somali pirates suspected of first hijacking since 2012,” BBC, March 14, 2017,
[5] “Three detained 30 days in Malindi for al Shabaab funding probe,” The Star Kenya, March 13, 2017,

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