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: Senior Political Security Organization officer assassinated in Hadramawt governorate; Yemeni warplanes continue bombing campaign in Ma’rib governorate; Yemeni and American military officials meet in Sana’a; gunmen kill one Yemeni soldier and wound another in al Dhaleh city; a truck kills two Yemeni soldiers in al Mukalla city
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab leader praises Ansar al Sharia’s efforts in Yemen; al Shabaab pulls out of Adale, Middle Shabelle region; Somali forces are conducting security operations in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; three al Shabaab militants defect in Beled Hawo, Gedo region; Puntland security forces are preparing an offensive against al Shabaab militants in the Galgala Mountains, Bari region; a civilian is shot in Galkayo, Mudug region; Somali president says Somali soldiers will leave Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Unidentified gunmen assassinated Col. Ahmed Barmadah, deputy director of the Political Security Organization (PSO) in Hadramawt governorate, in al Mukalla city on December 11. Local sources reported that two individuals riding a motorcycle fired on Col. Barmadah’s vehicle as he was going to work. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is suspected of playing a role in the assassination.
- Yemeni warplanes continued a bombing campaign against suspected al Qaeda militants in Ma’rib governorate on December 11. Local sources reported that Yemeni warplanes carried out at least eight airstrikes against al Qaeda targets in Wadi Abeidah. The military offensive began on December 9, following an ambush by unidentified assailants that killed at least 17 Yemeni soldiers in Ma’rib governorate on December 8. Local sources reported that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) played a role in the ambush.
- Yemeni and American military officials met in Sana’a on December 10. Both sides discussed ongoing military cooperation, including the exchange of training and expertise on counter-terrorism issues. The Yemeni officials that attended the meeting included Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, Interior Minister Abdul Qadir Qahtan, Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi, and Chief of General Staff Ahmed Ali al Ashwal. From the American side, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro and U.S. CENTCOM commander James Mattis participated in the meeting.
- Unidentified gunmen killed one Yemeni soldier at a security checkpoint in al Dhaleh city on December 11. A second Yemeni soldier was also wounded in the attack and is currently in critical condition at a local hospital. Local sources reported that gunmen riding a motorcycle carried out the attack.
- A truck reportedly ran over and killed two Yemeni soldiers in al Mukalla city on December 11. The two soldiers, identified as Abdullah Maqbel and Ahmed al Bahkeli, were killed near a military checkpoint close to al Mukalla International Airport.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab released several excerpts from a speech by al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubair, also known as Godane, praising Ansar al Sharia’s fight in Yemen on December 10. He said that any advances against jihadists have come to an end. Godane also spoke about his happiness for what he says were defeats for Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the financial troubles plaguing many Americans at home.
- Al Shabaab militants pulled out of Adale, Middle Shabelle region on December 10. Adale is located around 90km from the town of Jowhar, Middle Shabelle which fell to Somali and AMISOM troops on December 9. Residents in Adale said they saw the militants leaving but did know where they were headed.
- Somali police and soldiers are conducting security operations in the recently captured town of Jowhar, Middle Shabelle. Somali troops are searching for al Shabaab members still remaining, in order to bolster security in the town.
- Three al Shabaab militants turned themselves in to the Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a troops stationed in Beled Hawo, Gedo region on December 11. The three defected militants said they felt that they were misled by al Shabaab and realized they were fighting on the wrong side.
- Puntland security forces are preparing an offensive aimed at clearing al Shabaab militants out of the Galgala Mountains. A Puntland officer said that there was a special force put together to conduct the raids on al Shabaab hideouts.
- A civilian was shot and killed in Galkayo, Mudug region on December 11. The man was shot as he was on his way home. The assailants were able to flee the scene but an investigation is under way. The reason for the murder is not yet known.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on December 10 that all military personnel and equipment will be removed from Mogadishu and relocated to camps outside the city. The Somali soldiers will only be allowed to carry weapons when they are on duty and will be forced to leave their guns in the camps when they are exiting the barracks for any other reason.