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 military repels al Houthi border attack; AQAP threatens Saudi government for mass prisoner execution; Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appoints five new cabinet members

Horn of Africa: Kenyan police arrest two alleged spies for Iran in in Nairobi; al Shabaab seizes village in Kambera, northeastern Kenya; al Shabaab attacks SNA base in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Saudi military repelled cross-border attacks by al Houthi-Saleh forces in Najran district in southwestern Saudi Arabia, just north of the Yemeni governorates of Sa’ada and al Jawf, on November 30 and December 1. The Saudi military used helicopters and rocket fire to turn back an infantry assault by hundreds of al Houthi-Saleh fighters, according to reports. Saudi military sources claim to have killed 180 al Houthis, while local sources estimate “dozens” of casualties. Al Houthis claimed to seize three Saudi military outposts and destroyed several Saudi assault vehicles. Additionally, cross-border shelling by al Houthi-Saleh forces killed five Saudi soldiers and three civilians in the past three days.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) threatened the Saudi government on November 30 for planning a mass execution of prisoners. The statement indicated that the prisoners include AQAP fighters and threatened to kill Saudi soldiers in retaliation if the prisoners are executed.[2]
  • Internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed five new members to his cabinet, including a new foreign minister, on December 1. Yemeni Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled Bahah rejected the changes, calling them illegitimate.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan police arrested two individuals accused of working with Iranian intelligence services on November 28 in Nairobi, Kenya. Both individuals are Kenyan citizens who allegedly received training from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and were instructed to recruit additional Kenyans and carry out attacks against Western interests in the country. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has since issued a statement claiming that the detained individuals are not connected to Iranian intelligence.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants captured the Kenyan village of Kambera on November 28 in Garissa County, Kenya. The militants attacked after Kenyan security forces vacated the village for unspecified reasons. The militants raised their flag in the town and preached to the villagers. It is unknown if the militants are still in control of the village. This is the second time al Shabaab militants have seized a Kenyan village in the past week.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) military base on November 30 in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region. SNA forces at the base successfully repulsed the attack, and government officials stated that the militants sustained heavy losses. Al Shabaab later claimed to have killed numerous soldiers in the attack. Neither side released specific casualty figures.[6] 

[1] “Dozens of Houthis killed in major offensive across border from Yemen,” Reuters, December 1, 2015. Available:
“Yemen shelling kills Saudi border guard,” Yahoo, December 1, 2015. Available:
[2] SITE Intelligence Group. Source available upon request.
[3] “Yemeni PM rejects cabinet reshuffle ordered by president: government source,” Reuters, December 1, 2015. Available:
“President Hadi makes government decision to appoint five new members to the cabinet, names,” Barakish, December 1, 2015. Available:
[4] Stella Cherono, “Kenya: Two Kenyan spies for Iran are arrested,” Daily Nation, November 29, 2015. Available:
“Kenya arrests two men 'linked to Iranian spy network',” Al Jazeera, November 28, 2015. Available:
“Iran denies links to 2 Kenyans arrested for allegedly spying and plotting attacks,” Associated Press, November 30, 2015. Available:
“Al-Shabaab militants storm Kenyan village,” Xinhua, November 28, 2015. Available:
[5] “Somalia’s Islamists take over village in Kenyan town,” Shabelle News, November 30, 2015. Available:
“Al Shabaab announces raiding yet another Kanyan rural town,” Wacaal Media, November 30, 2015. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Al shabaab attacks military base in Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, December 1, 2015. Available:
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