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. officials meet with Saudi and Emirati national security advisor to discuss countering Iran; Saudi Crown Prince announces $930 million donation to UN humanitarian relief efforts in Yemen; al Houthi air defenses force Emirati fighter jets to vacate Sana’a air space; Emirati-backed forces raid AQAP safehouse in Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian ruling party elects leader of Oromo ethnic party as new chairman; Kenyan High Court demands the release of opposition lawyer from airport; UN Security Council extends mandate of UNSOM; suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate Southwest State regional MP in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. officials met with Saudi and Emirati national security advisors at the White house on March 26 to discuss countering the spread of Iranian influence. Officials from the U.S. Department of State, Defense, Treasury, and the intelligence community attended the meeting. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and UAE agreed to continue regular trilateral meetings to address threats to regional security in the Middle East. U.S., Saudi, and Emirati national security advisors also met with Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor to discuss developing a lasting Afghan peace settlement.[1]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced an additional $930 million donation from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to UN humanitarian relief efforts in Yemen on March 27. Bin Salman met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York as part of a three-week visit to the U.S. The UN requested $2.96 billion from the international community to implement the UN’s 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan. The Saudi-led coalition established a new aid initiative that pledged $1.5 billion to the UN-led relief effort on January 22.[2]

Al Houthi air defenses fired surface-to-air missiles at two Emirati F-16 fighter jets, forcing the jets to vacate Sana’a air space on March 27. Al Houthi media published video footage of two surface-to-air missiles launching at the fighter jets. Al Houthi air defenses damaged a Saudi-led coalition F-15 aircraft in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on March 21.[3] 

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces raided a suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) safehouse in northern Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on March 28. The al Hizam forces seized improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mortars, and mines.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Ethiopian ruling coalition elected Oromo member of parliament (MP) Abiy Ahmed as the new chairman of the Ethiopian Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) on March 27. The leader from the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Oromo ethnic party in the ruling coalition, appointed Ahmed as OPDO chairman on February 22. Ahmed established the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA), served as Minister of Science and Technology, and was deputy chairman of the OPDO before his election as OPDO chairman. Ahmed is the first Oromo to be elected as the ruling party’s chairman and the third EPRDF chairman since the EPRDF overthrew the communist regime in 1991. The Ethiopian prime minister has historically also been the chairman of the EPRDF. Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on February 15 following sustained anti-government protests in the Oromo community. The Ethiopian Oromo community makes up about a third of the Ethiopian population. The Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on February 16 and security forces initiated a crackdown on activist protests in the Oromia region after the EPRDF ratified the state of emergency on March 2.[5]

The Kenyan High Court ordered the Kenyan government to immediately release opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 27. The court also directed authorities to hand Miguna over to the court, and ordered the Kenyan immigration, interior, and police chiefs to appear before court on March 28. Kenyan police have kept Miguna in custody in defiance of court orders. Miguna threatened to sue the Kenyan government for blocking his entry into Kenya on March 26. Immigration officials are detaining Miguna in the airport, claiming Miguna has to re-apply for Kenyan citizenship. Kenyan authorities deported Miguna to Canada after he participated in the symbolic inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga on January 30. Officials said they deported Miguna because he failed to apply for dual Canadian and Kenyan citizenship, which Kenya did not allow until 2010. The Kenyan courts demanded authorities return Miguna to Kenya on February 26 and ruled against a government appeal on March 12.[6] 

The UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on March 27. The UN adopted Resolution 2408 (2018) extending the UNSOM mandate until March 2019. UNSOM provides policy advice to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the SFG in areas of security reform, governance, justice, and constitutional review. The resolution expressed concern for the threats posed by al Shabaab and ISIS-affiliated militants in Somalia. The UN passed UNSCR 2102 (2013) in June 2013, which established UNSOM to assist the Somali Federal Government (SFG) with its humanitarian crisis and terrorist threat. [7] 

Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinated a Southwest State regional MP in Mogadishu on March 27. Militants shot MP Ruqiya Abshir Noor outside her home in Shibis district, Mogadishu. No group claimed responsibility for the assassination. Al Shabaab has assassinated Somali security personnel and civil servants several times over the past few years. Al Shabaab militants killed two HirShabelle regional officials with a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) between Wanlaweyn and Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, northwest of Mogadishu on March 7.[8]

[1] “Readout of the Trilateral Meeting of the National Security Advisors of the United States of America, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,” The White House, March 26, 2018,; and Joyce Karam, “Analysis: Houthis’ military posturing could derail political talks,” The National, March 26, 2018,
[2] “Secretary-General's press remarks following his meeting with HRH Prince Mohamad Bin Salman Al Saud,” UN Secretary General, March 27, 2018,; “The Heir Apparent meets with the Secretary General of the United Nations and signs an agreement for the joint executive program between the Kingdom and the United Nations to support and fund the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen for the year 2018,” Saudi Press Agency, March 28, 2018,; and “$930M given for Yemen aid as Saudi prince meets UN leader,” AP, March 28, 2018,$930M-given-for-Yemen-aid-as-Saudi-prince-meets-UN-leader.
[3] “Air defenses address two Emirates planes in the capital Sana'a,” Saba News, March 27, 2018,; “The Houthis announce the response of the air defenses two Emirati fighter jets in the atmosphere of Sanaa,” Al Masdar, March 27, 2018,; and “War Media distributes scenes of hostile aircraft in the atmosphere of the capital Sana'a (video + photos),” Al Masirah, March 27, 2018,
[4] “Security forces in Lahij control explosives in one of the terrorist dens,” Aden Lang, March 28, 2018,
[5] “Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest hit region in break from past,” The Washington Post, March 28, 2018,; “Abiy Ahmed elected as chairman of Ethiopia's ruling coalition,” Al Jazeera, March 28, 2018,; “Abiy Ahmed named as head of Ethiopia's EPRDF ruling coalition,” BBC, March 28, 2018,; “Ethiopia’s Ruling Coalition Paves Way for Abiy Ahmed as New PM,” Voice of America, March 27, 2018,; and “Breaking: Dr. Abiy Ahmed elected new chairman of EPRDF with Demeke Mekonnen as deputy,” Addis Standard, March 27, 2018,
[6] “Court orders Miguna's unconditional release,” The Star, March 27, 2018,; “Kenya police keep opposition politician in custody in defiance of court order,” Reuters, March 28, 2018,; “Matiang’i, Boinnet and Kihalangwa fail to appear in court as directed,” Standard Media, March 28, 2018,; and “Miguna woes: Matiang'i, Boinnet and Kihalangwa summoned to court,” The Star, March 28, 2018,
[7] “UN Security Council decides to extend mandate of assistance mission in Somalia,” Xinhua, March 28, 2018,; “Security Council Extends Assistance Mission in Somalia until 31 March 2019, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2408 (2018),” United Nations, March 27, 2018,; and “UN Security Council decides to extend mandate of assistance mission in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, March 28, 2018,
[8] “SouthWest State MP Assassinated In Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, March 27, 2018,; “Somali Lawmaker Fatally Shot in Mogadishu,” March 27, 2018,; and “Somali regional MP shot dead in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, March 28, 2018,

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