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: Saudi Arabia deploys brigade for offensive in Hajjah governorate; Yemen President calls for fuel market liberalization; reported U.S. airstrike kills four AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Oromo activists begin three-day strike after state of emergency ratification; ISIS claims assassination of Somali intelligence official in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle; international humanitarian organizations urge donors to prevent famine in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi Arabia deployed a brigade to participate in an offensive to seize Harad city, northern Hajjah governorate, near the Saudi-Yemeni border on March 6. Sudanese and Hadi government forces are also taking part in the offensive to seize the city from the al Houthi movement. Hadi government forces are simultaneously conducting an offensive into western and northeastern Sa’ada governorate, which is located north of Hajjah. Saudi Arabia’s direct military engagement in Yemen has largely been restricted to an air campaign and ground forces serving in an advisory role.[1]

Internationally recognized President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on his government to liberalize the fuel market at all Yemeni ports on March 5. Hadi called for liberalization as a means to facilitate trade, reduce prices, and address the humanitarian crisis. Demonstrators protested fuel shortages and black market inflation of fuel prices in front of the secretariat building in Sana’a on March 3 and 4. Al Houthi forces attempted to impose customs duties on fuel tankards and prevented the fuel from reaching Sana’a in Dhamar city, central Yemen on March 6, according to anti-al Houthi forces.[2]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al ‘Abr district, northwestern Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on March 5. Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces claimed to have cleared AQAP militants from the al Misini valley, south of al ‘Abr on February 20.[3] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Activists initiated a three-day strike the Oromia region in northwestern Ethiopia to protest the ratification of a six-month state of emergency on March 5. Activists held strikes in parts of Addis Ababa and in towns in Oromia region, including Ambo, Gimbi, Hirna, and Jimma. Activists accused the Ethiopian parliament of failing to achieve sufficient votes to ratify the state of emergency on March 2. The activists closed shops, public transportation services, and roads leading to Addis Ababa in the Oromia region. Security forces killed more than a dozen people in the Oromia region in response. The state of emergency prohibits the disruption of public and economic activity. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned due to sustained anti-government protests in the Oromia region on February 15. The Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared a six-month state of emergency on February 16. The ruling party is expected to elect a replacement for Desalegn this week.[4]

ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency released a video of ISIS-aligned militants assassinating a suspected Somali intelligence agent in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on March 5. ISIS has claimed four attacks targeting Somali government officials in Afgoi since January 2018. Afgoi security officials denied the presence of ISIS in the region on February 5 and claimed that al Shabaab was the only militant threat present.[5] 

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UN World Food Programme called on international donors to take action to prevent famine in Somalia on March 5. The UN stated in January 2018 that approximately 6.2 million Somalis need emergency aid due to drought and ongoing conflict. The NRC warned that about 500,000 Somalis are on the brink of famine on March 5. The Australian government pledged $5.5 million and the United Kingdom committed $34.2 million in humanitarian support to Somalia on March 6. More than 250,000 people died in a famine caused by drought, lack of access to aid, and war in Somalia in 2011.[6]

[1] “Saudi-backed Yemen forces advancing closer to Haradh border,” Al Arabiya, March 6, 2018,; “The arrival of a Saudi military force to the border of the city of Haradh,” Al Yom Press, March 6, 2018,; and “Large military reinforcements pushing to the Harad frontier,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, March 6, 2018,
[2] “The President of the Republic directs the liberalization of the oil derivatives market,” Saba New, March 5, 2018,; “Houthis hold dozens of oil tankers and gas trailers in Dhamar,” Al Masdar, March 6, 2018,; and “Houthi militias hold dozens of oil and gas carriers in Dhamar,” Al Arabiya, March 6, 2018,
[3] “Four suspected al Qaeda members were killed in a US raid in Hadramawt,” Al Hiwar, March 5, 2018,; and “Four people killed in drone strike in Hadramawt,” Mosnad, March 6, 2018,
[4] “Ethiopia activists activate shutdown in Oromia to protest emergency rule,” Africa News, March 5, 2018,; “Ethiopia Oromia shutdown strike enters day 2 with strict compliance,” Africa News, March 5, 2018,; “News: More than a dozen killed by security forces in Ethiopia’s Oromia; region hit by yet another boycott,” Addis Standard, March 5, 2018,; and “Ethiopia ruling coalition to nominate new prime minister,” Reuters, March 5, 2018,
[5] “'Amaq Reports on and Provides Video of IS Fighter Killed Somali Intel Agent in Afgoye,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 6, 2018, available by subscription at; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: February 6, 2018,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, February 6, 2018,
[6] “Somalia: UN, partners seek $1.6 billion to protect millions of lives from drought,” UN News, January 17, 2018,; “Under-pressure donors urged to help avoid famine in Somalia, Reuters, March 5, 2018,; “Charity calls for increased humanitarian aid to avert famine in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, March 6, 2018,; “Australia announces $5.5 M aid to Assist Drought Victims in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, March 6, 2018,; and “UK Commits Additional $34 M In Humanitarian Aid To Somalia,” Radio Dalsan, March 6, 2018,

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