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: Al Houthis claim to shoot down Saudi-led coalition aircraft; Islamic State claims attacks on AQAP in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab launches coordinated attacks on SNA bases in Lower Shabelle region; AFRICOM airstrike kills senior al Shabaab militant in Middle Jubba region; al Shabaab assassinates SNA soldier in Lower Jubba region; SNA forces redeploy in north-central Somalia to quell clan violence

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement claimed to shoot down a Saudi-led coalition spy plane near the Saudi border in northern Yemen on December 10. The Saudi-led coalition has not commented on the claim. The al Houthis have claimed to shoot down four Saudi aircraft, including surveillance drones and an attack helicopter, in separate incidents in northern Yemen since November 29. The al Houthi Minister of Defense, Mohammed al Atafi, claimed on December 8 that the group has developed new anti-aircraft systems that have allowed it to intercept more Saudi aircraft in recent weeks.[1]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to attack al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants on December 7 in the Qayfa area of al Bayda governorate in south-central Yemen. The Islamic State subsequently claimed a mortar attack against AQAP in the area on December 10.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants launched coordinated attacks on Somali National Army (SNA) bases in Barawe, Barire, and Awdheegle towns in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on December 10. Fighting lasted for hours and the SNA had to deploy reinforcements to repel the attacks.[3]

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in Sakow town in Middle Jubba region in southwestern Somalia on December 9. AFRICOM assessed that the airstrike killed a senior militant, whom AFRICOM did not name.[4]

An al Shabaab militant assassinated a Somali solider in Kismayo port city, the capital of Jubbaland State in southern Somalia, on December 9. Jubbaland Security Forces apprehended the suspect the next day.[5]

SNA forces redeployed from Dhusamareb town in Galgudud region in north-central Somalia to Afbarwaaqo district in neighboring Mudug region on December 10. SNA forces are trying to quell clan violence that erupted in the area last week. Fighting killed 20 people and injured 25 others on December 9 alone.[6]

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[1] “Yemeni Defense Minister: Much more Ready to Hit Back at US-Saudi Aggression, than before Our last Peace Initiative,” Al Masirah, December 9, 2019,; “Yemen: The Houthis shot down a spy plane over Najran,” Al Bawaba, December 10, 2019,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 2, 2019,” Critical Threats Project, December 2, 2019,; Sare’a Yahya, Twitter, November 30, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 5, 2019,” Critical Threats Project, December 5, 2019,

[2] Kendall, Elisabeth, Twitter, December 7, 2019,; Kendall, Elisabeth, Twitter, December 10, 2019,

[3] “Heavy fighting erupts between army, Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia,” Somali Affairs, December 10, 2019,; and “Somali forces carry out operation in Wanlaweyn after killing,” Radio Shabelle, December 10, 2019,

[4] “Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. conduct airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists,” AFRICOM, December 9, 2019,; and Guled, Abdi “US airstrike kills extremist rebel in Somalia, say officials,” Associated Press, December 9, 2019,

[5] “Jubaland security forces arrest suspect over killing soldier in Kismayo,” Goobjoog, December 10, 2019,

[6] “Somali soldiers sent to end deadly clan militia fighting in Mudug,” Somali Affairs, December 10, 2019,; and “Inter-clan clashes in central Somalia leaves at least 20 dead,” Radio Shabelle, December 9, 2019,

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