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 Defense urges Saudi Crown Prince to find political solution to Yemen war; al Houthi movement leader says international actors are not taking a serious approach to ending Yemen conflict; President Hadi accepts deputy prime minister’s resignation; ISIS militants claim IED attack against al Houthi fighters in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. Congress to vote on resolution criticizing Ethiopian government; UN warns of food insecurity in Ethiopia and Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis urged Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to find a political solution to the Yemeni civil war during a meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 22. Secretary Mattis stressed the importance of the Saudi-American relationship. The White House notified Congress on March 22 that it plans to approve a $1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Department approved a $670 million sale of anti-tank missiles and spare parts to Saudi Arabia on March 22. Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the U.S. on March 20 for a three-week visit. He met with President Donald Trump on March 20.[1]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi stated that there is no indication of international actors taking a “serious” approach to finding a political resolution to the Yemen conflict during an interview with a Lebanese newspaper on March 23. Al Houthi accused the UN of favoring the Saudi-led coalition. He also called UN Security Council Resolution 2216 an irrational demand because it requires the al Houthi movement to surrender its weapons. The resolution also calls for the al Houthi movement to withdraw from seized territory, including Yemen’s capital Sana’a. Al Houthi stated that U.S. interests in Yemen center on the Bab al Mandab Strait, a critical chokepoint for international shipping lanes. Al Houthi also stressed that the al Houthi movement desires Russian neutrality in the Yemen conflict. Al Houthi affirmed that the al Houthi movement continues to develop long-range ballistic missiles and is prepared to send fighters to support Hezbollah and Palestine.[2] 

Internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi accepted the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Aziz Jubari on March 22. President Hadi initially rejected Jubari’s resignation on March 19. Minister of State Saleh al Sayadi also announced his resignation on March 20. Both former ministers resigned in response to the subordination of the Hadi government to the Saudi-led coalition and the Hadi government’s lack of power on the ground.[3]

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), killing an al Houthi soldier, in Wald Rabi’, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on March 23. ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency claimed the attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The U.S. Congress will vote on a human rights resolution criticizing the Ethiopian ruling party in April 2018. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that the intent of passing House Resolution 128 is to encourage the Ethiopian government to initiate serious political reforms. The resolution condemns Ethiopian security forces for killing peaceful protesters, calls on the Ethiopian government to lift the state of emergency, and urges protesters to refrain from violence. H. Res. 128 passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously in July 2017. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on February 15 after months of anti-government protests in the Oromia region. The Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on February 16, sparking protests and violent security crackdowns. The Ethiopian ruling party met to discuss the election of a new prime minister throughout the past week.[5]

UN officials warned the international community in separate reports that food insecurity will worsen the humanitarian crises in Somalia and Ethiopia in 2018. Droughts and conflict are causing malnutrition and mass displacement in both Somalia and Ethiopia. Ethiopia is appealing for $1.6 billion in aid for about 8 million people affected by drought. Over 1.8 million Somalis are affected by drought in central and northern Somalia. Livestock losses have damaged Somalia’s agro-pastoral economy.[6]

[1] “Mattis praises Saudis, $1B arms sale to be approved,” AP News, March 22, 2018,,-$1B-arms-sale-to-be-approved; “Remarks By Secretary Mattis at enhanced honor cordon and meeting welcoming His Royal Highness Mohammad Bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the Pentagon,” Department of Defense, March 22, 2018,; and “Readout of Secretary of Defense James Mattis' Meeting with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman,” Department of Defense, March 22, 2018,; and “Saudi Arabia – TOW 2B (BGM-71F-Series) Missiles,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency, March 22, 2018,
[2] “Al Houthi to Al Akhbar: We are ready to fight alongside Hezbollah against Israel,” Al Akhbar, March 23, 2018,; “Yemeni rebel leader lashes out at US, blames it for war,” AP, March 23, 2018,,-blames-it-for-war; and “Leader of the revolution: The Yemeni people resist violently and develop their military capabilities to the point of astonishing their enemies,” Saba, March 23, 2018,  
[3] “President Hadi accepts the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Jubari,” Al Masdar, March 23, 2018,
[4] “ISIS claims IED attack against al Houthi movement in al Bayda,” Twitter, March 23, 2018,; and “ISIS claimed IED attack against al Houthi movement in al Bayda,” Telegram, March 23, 2018.
[5] “'Fight for democracy in Ethiopia continues' - U.S. Congress to vote on H. Res. 128,” Africa News, March 23, 2018,; and “Summary: H.Res.128 — 115th Congress (2017-2018),”, February 15, 2017,
[6] “Huge livestock losses may worsen food security in Somalia, says UN,” Radio Shabelle, March 22, 2018,; “Nearly 8 Million Ethiopians Need Emergency Food, Water,” Voice of America, March 22, 2018,; and “The State of Food and Agriculture 2017,” Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, September 10, 2017,

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