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.{{authorBox.message}}

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The Gulf of Aden Security Review will resume in January 2020.

Yemen: President Hadi and Vice President Ali Mohsen call for unified Yemeni government; Saudi-led coalition-backed forces attack al Houthis in al Jawf

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims to destroy downed US drone in Hiraan region; al Shabaab claims SNA soldiers surrender in Gedo region; Kenya opens new airbase near Somali border

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar met with representatives of the National Alliance of Parties and Political Organizations December 12 to discuss the government’s goals for a unified Yemen. Hadi and Ali Mohsen called for all Yemeni parties to overcome political quarrels and expressed confidence in a recently signed power-sharing agreement with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern separatist group. Hadi government-aligned forces and STC-aligned forces recently clashed in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on December 5, a month after the agreement was signed.[1]

Saudi-led coalition backed Yemeni forces claimed to kill al Houthi commander Azan al Sharif and four of his associates in fighting near the Saudi border in northern Yemen’s al Jawf governorate on December 12. Al Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’a accused the Saudi-led coalition of attacking al Houthi forces in al Jawf and conducting more than 30 airstrikes in the area over the course of 16 hours.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed to destroy a US reconnaissance drone after it fell near Burweyne village in Hiraan region in central Somalia on December 12. Al Shabaab said its militants located and destroyed the drone before Djiboutian forces serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) were able to secure the wreckage. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has not commented on the incident.[3]

Al Shabaab claimed that 21 Somali National Army troops surrendered to the group in Gedo region in southwestern Somalia on December 13.[4]

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta oversaw the opening ceremony of Modika Airbase in Garissa County in eastern Kenya on December 13. Construction on the airbase, which is Kenya’s largest, began in July 2017. The opening ceremony comes a week after al Shabaab militants killed 11 Kenyans in an attack in neighboring Wajir County.[5]

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[1] “The President of the Republic meets leaders and representatives of the National Alliance of Political Parties and Organizations,” Official Website of the President of the Republic of Yemen, December 12, 2019, https://presidenthadi-gov-ye.info/ar/archives/%d8%b1%d8%a6%d9%8a%d8%b3-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ac%d9%85%d9%87%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%8a%d9%84%d8%aa%d9%82%d9%8a-%d9%82%d9%8a%d8%a7%d8%af%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d9%88%d9%85%d9%85%d8%ab%d9%84%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84/.

[2] “By name… the national army announces the killing of a prominent Houthi leader in Al-Jawf governorate,” Al Mashad Al Yemeni, December 13, 2019, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/152326; Sare’a, Yahya, Twitter, December 12, 2019, https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1205167309129695234.

[3] “Shabaab Reports Surrender of 21 Somali Soldiers, Claims Destroying American UAV,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 13, 2019, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com

[4] Ibid; and Phelan, Kevin, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 12, 2019” Critical Threats Project, December 12, 2019, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-december-12-2019.

[5] Mboga, Jael, “President Uhuru to open new Air Base in Garissa,” Standard, December 13, 2019, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001353113/president-uhuru-to-open-new-air-base-in-garissa; and Cheruiyot, Kevin, “Security beefed up as Uhuru opens military barracks in Garissa,” The Star, December 13, 2019, https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2019-12-13-security-beefed-up-as-uhuru-opens-military-barracks-in-garissa/.

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Yemen: Unknown militants attack Hadi government-aligned unit in Shabwah; Saudi led-coalition airstrike kills two al Houthi commanders

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks SNA base near Mogadishu; drone crashes in Hiraan region; SNA ambushes al Shabaab militants in Bakool region

Yemen Security Brief

Unknown militants attacked the Third Presidential Guard, a unit aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, in the southeastern governorate of Shabwah on December 12. The militants killed two soldiers and injured three others. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[1]

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike reportedly killed two al Houthi commanders, Jafar Abdullah Habra and Hassan Abdullah al Shahari, on December 12 in Sahar district in Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen, according to anti-al Houthi media. The Saudi-led coalition has not confirmed the airstrike.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants raided a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Hilweyne town, located 15 miles north of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on December 11. Militants temporarily seized control of the base, killing one soldier and four civilians in the process.[3]

A drone of unknown origin crashed in Burweyne village in Hiraan region in central Somalia on December 12. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) frequently flies drones over Somalia but has not commented on the incident.[4]

SNA forces ambushed al Shabaab militants near Wajid town in Bakool region in southern Somalia on December 10. SNA troops killed one militant and detained another as the militants were traveling by motorcycle through the area.[5]

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[1] “2 Yemeni soldiers killed in Shabwa province,” Xinhua, December 12, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/12/c_138626379.htm.

[2] “Yemen News Now – The Houthis admit the killing of two of their leaders in a raid in Saada,” 7adramout, December 12, 2019, https://www.7adramout.net/alyamanalarab/7247294/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86---%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%85%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A9.html; “The Houthis confess to the killing of two of their leaders in a raid in Saada,” Al Arabiya, December 12, 2019, https://www.alarabiya.net/ar/arab-and-world/yemen/2019/12/12/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%85%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A9.html.

[3] “Al-Shabaab attacks Somali army base in Hilweyne, killing 5,” The Defense Post, December 12, 2019, https://thedefensepost.com/2019/12/12/somalia-al-shabaab-hilweyne-base-attack/.

[4] Maruf, Harun, Twitter, December 12, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1205138187150135296; and “2019 Posture Statement to Congress,” AFRICOM, February 7, 2019, http://www.africom.mil/media-room/Document/31480/u-s-africa-command-2019-posture-statement.

[5] Maruf, Harun, Twitter, December 10, 2019, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1204398067786620929.

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Yemen: Al Houthis launch projectiles into Saudi territory; security forces in Aden implement measures to curb assassinations

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants storm Mogadishu hotel; Kenyan police warn of al Shabaab recruitment in western Kenya; Ethiopian Prime Minister receives Nobel Peace Prize

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement struck a hospital with projectiles near the Yemeni border in Jizan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia on December 10. A spokesman for the Saudi Civil Defense Directorate stated that the attack did not harm anyone but caused some damage to buildings.[1]

Saudi-led coalition-backed security forces have implemented new security measures in Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, in recent days to curb a spike in assassinations. Security officials stated that masked gunmen have been conducting shootings on motorcycles in the city in recent weeks. Aden security forces consequently banned the use of motorcycles and carrying of weapons in the city. The Islamic State claimed two of the recent assassinations.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants attacked a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on December 10. Five militants stormed the upscale SYL hotel, which is located near the presidential palace, and holed up in the building as local security forces responded. Security forces secured the hotel and killed all five militants after a seven-hour gun battle. Two other people died in the attack.[3]

Kenyan police have begun investigating an al Shabaab recruitment cell in Siaya County in western Kenya. A local police official stated on December 9 that police had identified some of the individuals in the cell. The official warned that the risk of extremist recruitment is growing in western Kenya, citing the fact that Violet Kemunto, an al Shabaab operative involved in a January 2019 attack on a Nairobi hotel, hailed from nearby Kisii County.[4]

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10. Abiy, who took power in 2018, received the prize in recognition of his work to end a long-standing conflict with neighboring Eritrea as well as his efforts to open up Ethiopia’s political space. Abiy credited his time as a soldier in the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict as driving his desire for peace.[5]

Visit our YemenSaudi Arabia,  KenyaEthiopia, and Somalia, storystreams.


[1] “Al Houthi projectiles land in Saudi hospital,” Gulf News, December 11, 2019, https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/yemen/al-houthi-projectiles-land-in-saudi-hospital-1.68415697; “Projectiles from Yemeni territories reach Al Harith hospital: Saudi Civil Defense,” Emirates News Agency, December 11, 2019, http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302809654.

[2] “Spotlight: Tightened security measures in Yemen’s Aden to curb spike of assassinations,” Xinhua, December 10, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/10/c_138620888.htm.

[3] Nor, Omar, “Al-Shabaab claims attack on elite hotel in Mogadishu,” CNN, December 10, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/10/africa/somalia-mogadishu-attack-al-shabaab/index.html; “Al-Shabab Militants Attack Mogadishu Hotel,” VOA, December 10, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/africa/al-shabab-militants-attack-mogadishu-hotel; and “Somalia: Seven dead in Mogadishu hotel attack,” Mareeg, December 11, 2019, https://mareeg.com/somalia-seven-dead-in-mogadishu-hotel-attack/.

[4] “Police investigate terror cell recruiting youths in Siaya,” Daily Nation, December 11, 2019, https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/siaya/Police-monitor-terrorist-recruitment-cell-Siaya/1183322-5380672-9c67ja/index.html.

[5] Keyton, David and Heintz, Jim, “Nobel winner Abiy says ‘hell’ of war fueled desire for peace,” AP, December 10, 2019, https://apnews.com/2bc6828fce0af417978e5d13c9921e5a.

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