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. unfreezes Hadi government assets; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit Sana’a International Airport; suspected AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: UN Security Council renews Somali and Eritrean arms embargo; AMISOM to deploy 500 police officers to Somalia; Kenyan Supreme Court bans main parties from joining petitions against re-run election

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. unfroze Yemeni Central Bank assets, which amount to $205 million and are owned by the internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in September. The Obama administration froze the assets to pressure the Hadi government to reach a political solution with the al Houthi-Saleh bloc. The Hadi government has been unable to pay most federal salaries due to a cash liquidity crisis and the ongoing collapse of the Yemeni economy.[1]

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit Sana’a International Airport in Sana’a city, northern Yemen on November 14, destroying a radio navigation station. The al Houthi-Saleh General Authority for Civil Aviation stated that UN and international relief organization flights are the only flights arriving to and departing from the airport. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also reportedly hit the al Hudaydah airport in al Hudaydah city, western Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition blockaded Yemen’s air and sea ports on November 6, cutting off aid and exacerbating the humanitarian situation in al Houthi-Saleh territory.[2]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 15. Al Hizam forces raided suspected AQAP strongholds in al Wade’a district in the morning. Militants then detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) striking an al Hizam vehicle in al Wade’a. Another IED hit an al Hizam vehicle in al Furayd area, Mudiyah district. An AQAP-affiliated Telegram account claimed responsibility for the attack. AQAP frames its attacks on Emirati-backed forces as in reprisal for security forces abusing the local population.[3] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The UN Security Council (UNSC) voted to renew the partial arms embargo imposed on Somalia and Eritrea on November 15. The embargo restricts the importing of heavy military equipment and limits the importing of most medium-sized military equipment, which requires UNSC approval. The arms embargo on Somalia has been in place since 1992 to prevent non-state actors from seizing heavy weaponry and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The UNSC imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea in 2009 because the Eritrean government armed Somali groups and refused to remove its forces from contested territory along the Djiboutian-Eritrean border. Prime Minister of Somalia Hassan Ali Khaire called on world leaders to lift the embargo to improve Somalia’s capabilities against al Shabaab during a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 22.[4]

African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) Ambassador Francisco Madeira announced on November 15 that AMISOM has begun reducing its forces by 1,000 troops and will deploy 500 additional police officers to train and maintain security in Somali Federal Government (SFG) territory. The new police officers are intended to improve peace and stability in SFG territory as Somali troops transition from an offensive mission to stabilization. AMISOM plans to withdraw 1,000 troops by the end of 2017 and all forces before 2021.[5]

The Kenyan Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the majority and opposition parties cannot join the petitions that challenge the October 26 re-run election on November 14. The attorneys of incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta objected to the opposition party’s participation in the debate. The Court responded by blocking both parties from participating. The Supreme Court will announce its decision on the three petitions filed by a former independent lawmaker, activists, and an NGO by November 20.[6]

[1] “US unfreezes Yemeni assets in boost to Saudi-backed government,” Financial Times, November 13, 2017,
[2] “Saudi-led coalition air raid puts Yemen's Sanaa airport out of service: agency,” Reuters, November 14, 2017,; “Air aggression aimed at Sana’a International Airport and destroys the navigational guidance system,” Al Masirah, November 14, 2017,; “Saudi Air Force bombs Sana’a and al Hudaydah airports,” Al Motamar, November 14, 2017,; and “With border closures into second week, Yemen suffering worsens,” UNHCR, November 14, 2017,
[3] “Al Hizam Security Forces vehicle hit by IED in Mudiyah,” Aden Tomorrow, November 15, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, November 15, 2017,; AQAP targets Emirati security forces in Mudiyah, Telegram, November 15, 2017; “Urgent: IED targets al Hizam Security Forces in Wade’a, Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, November 15, 2017,; Demolinari, Twitter, November 15, 2017,; and “Al Hizam forces raid villages in Wade’a district,” Aden Tomorrow, November 15, 2017,
[4] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “U.N. Security Council renews arms sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia,” Africa News, November 15, 2017,; and “UN arms embargo on Somalia,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, February 2, 2017,
[5] “AU To Deploy An Extra 500 Police Officers To Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, November 15, 2017,
[6] Humphrey Malalo, “Kenya court throws out opposition coalition from election challenges,” Reuters, November 14, 2017,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Dec '17
Nov '17
Oct '17