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: Senior Iranian official calls for peace talks between factions in Yemen; President Hadi appoints late former president Saleh’s half brother as commander of Reserve Forces; Emirati-backed forces deploy to al Dhaleh governorate; AQAP militants ambush Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate; reported U.S. airstrike kills AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali security forces secure Lower House building after parliamentary standoff; SNA and AMISOM forces defend farmers from al Shabaab militants in Hiraan region; Ethiopian government accuses Eritrea of supporting militants in border region

Yemen Security Brief

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani called for talks between groups in Yemen to end the conflict during a meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran on March 17. Shamkhani and Alawi discussed possible means for resolving the Yemeni conflict, which included an immediate ceasefire, increasing humanitarian aid shipments into Yemen, and beginning a political dialogue for national elections. Shakhmani also stated that Iran is not open to negotiations over its missile program. A UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution that called for international action against Iran for supplying ballistic missile technology to the al Houthi movement was vetoed by Russia on February 26. Alawi also met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani on March 18.[1] 

Internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Ali Saleh al Ahmar, half brother of late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, as commander of the Reserve Forces on March 17. Al Ahmar fled Sana’a after al Houthi forces killed Saleh in December 2017.[2]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces deployed from Aden, southern Yemen to al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen to extend their purview on March 19. Emirati Apache helicopters and al Hizam Security Forces Commander Munir al Yafa’i accompanied the forces to al Jarba’a military camp, near al Dhaleh city. Local security forces initially opposed the the entry of the forces into al Dhaleh but conceded after the local forces and al Hizam forces reached an agreement to coordinate security efforts. Al Hizam Security Forces conduct counterterrorism operations in Aden, Lahij, and Abyan governorates in southern Yemen.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed al Hizam Security Forces in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on March 18. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Hizam convoy and then attacked the convoy with small arms. Al Mudiyah is located next to al Mahfad district, where al Hizam Security Forces launched Operation Sweeping Torrent to clear AQAP strongholds on March 7.[4]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed three AQAP militants in al Husun area, Wadi Obaida, Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on March 19, according to local sources. AQAP does not conduct overt operations in Ma’rib but maintains safe havens in the governorate.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali security forces secured the Lower House of the Somali Parliament amid escalating tensions between Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari on March 16. Jawari accused Prime Minister Khaire of deploying the forces. Both the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali Minister of Defense denied the assertion, however. The Somali commissioner of police said authorities sent personnel as a security procedure due to rising tensions, not because of orders from the Prime Minister. Members of parliament (MPs) loyal to Khaire called on Jawari to resign on March 17. Jawari refused to step down in a press conference on March 18. Jawari acknowledged a motion of no confidence filed against him on March 14 as legitimate and gave the MPs who initiated the motion ten days to proceed. Jawari also called for the withdrawal of the forces deployed to the parliamentary building. MPs dropped a motion of no confidence against Jawari after failing to reach quorum on March 14. Jawari accused Khaire of initiating the motion. Jawari countered by drafting a motion of no confidence against Khaire on March 15. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo delayed a trip to Qatar to meet with Jawari to resolve tensions on March 18.[6] 

The Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM defended farmers who refused to pay taxes to al Shabaab in multiple villages around Mahas, Hiraan region, central Somalia on March 16. Al Shabaab militants entered multiple villages demanding livestock and payments from farmers. The residents were unable to pay due to drought and livestock deaths. Al Shabaab claimed to kill 19 SNA soldiers and wound 26 AMISOM reinforcements in a raid in Mahas through the group’s Shahada News Agency on March 17. Somali security officials claimed that security forces killed 32 al Shabaab militants in the engagement. Residents have resisted al Shabaab taxation in central Somalia since 2013.[7]

The Ethiopian government accused Eritrean authorities of attempting to destabilize Ethiopia by supporting militant groups on March 17. Ethiopian authorities claimed to recover weapons from “destructive” groups along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border. The Eritrean government rejected the allegations on March 19 and accused the Ethiopian government of deflecting attention from its internal crisis. The Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on February 16, one day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned after months of anti-government protests. Ethiopia and Eritrea have had tense relations since Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993 following decades of conflict.[8]

[1] “Iranian official urges dialogue between Yemen factions: state media,” Reuters, March 17, 2018,; and “Oman Foreign Minister meets with Shankhani,” Irib News, March 17, 2018,
[2] “Half brother of Yemen’s slain ex-president to head forces,” AP, March 17, 2018,; and “The decision of the President of the Republic to appoint Major General Ali Saleh Afash al Humiri as Commander of the Reserve Force,” Saba New, March 17, 2018,
[3] “ Amid the welcome of the popular al Hizam forces that extend to al Dhaleh governorate,” Yafa News, March 19, 2018,; “The arrival of al Hizam security forces to al Dhaleh governorate to begin its functions and spread in the governorate,” Al Omana, March 19, 2018,; and “The arrival of troops from al Hizam to al Dhaleh and the end of tension,” Aden Tomorrow, March 19, 2018,
[4] “Killed and 3 wounded in the ranks of al Hizam forces in armed ambush in Abyan,” EREM News, March 18, 2018,; and “One soldier killed and three wounded in a terrorist attack in Abyan, southern Yemen,” Al Ain, March 18, 2018,
[5] “US airstrikes bomb al Qaeda in Ma’rib,” Freedom Yemen, March 19, 2018,; and “Three al Qaeda members were killed in a US airstrike in Ma’rib,” Al Omana, March 19, 2018,
[6] “Amisom refutes parliament security take-over reports,” Goobjoog, March 17, 2018,; “Ministry for Security says more police were deployed to secure the Parliament,” Hiiraan Online, March 17, 2018,; “Int'l community urges dialogue to resolve political tension in Somalia,” Xinhua, March 17, 2018,; “Pro Khaire MPs Demand For Resignation Of Speaker,” Radio Dalsan, March 17, 2018,; “Security ministry and Police chief deny seizure of Parliament building,” Radio Shabelle, March 17, 2018,; “I Will Not Resign, Embattled Speaker Jawari Tells Pro-Khaire MPs,” Radio Dalsan, March 18, 2018,; “Jawari demands security forces in parliament vacate, says motion on course,” Goobjoog, March 18, 2018,; “Jawari calls for re-deployment of Regular Forces in Parliament as he nods motion against him,” Hiiraan Online, March 18, 2018,; “Jawari put the President on defense over motion-source,” Goobjoog, March 19, 2018,; and “Farmajo meets with Parliament speaker amid political tension,” Radio Shabelle, March 19, 2018,
[7] “12 Dead in Central Somalia as Villagers Resist Al-Shabab Taxes,” Voice of America, March 16, 2018,; “Somali forces kill 32 Al-Shabaab fighters in central Somalia,” Xinhua, March 17, 2018,; “At least 15 people killed in clashes in central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, March 17, 2018,; and “In Update, Shaabab Claims 19 SNA Killed, 26 Wounded in Raid on Barracks in Mahaas in Hiran Region,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 17, 2018, available by subscription at  
[8] “Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of trying to destabilise its security,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2018,; “Eritrea Rejects Allegation It’s Trying to Destabilize Ethiopia,” Bloomberg, March 19, 2018,; and “Eritrea to Ethiopia: Deal with your security crisis, stop chasing scapegoats,” Africa News, March 19, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Apr '18
Mar '18
Feb '18