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.
Editor’s Note: The Critical Threats Project incorrectly reported on December 2 that a “possible AQAP fighter” attacked al Ziyar Mosque in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen. AQAP did not conduct this attack. Local sources told al Masdar Online on December 2 that family disputes likely motivated the gunman.[i]
Yemen: AQAP IED targets STC-backed forces in southern Yemen; Houthi leadership lists demand for ending attacks on Yemeni oil and gas facilities; Houthi minister threatens foreign oil companies
Somalia: Anti-al Shabaab forces clear several areas in Adan Yabal district and push towards final al Shabaab holdout in south-central Somalia; Kenya increases border security amid increased al Shabaab activity; anti-al Shabaab forces clear al Shabaab havens in forested areas of south-central Somalia; al Shabaab assassinates regional airport manager in south-central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
Likely al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed forces in Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on December 9.[ii]
Houthi media claimed on December 10 that Houthi leadership communicated to the US and UN Envoys to Yemen that the Houthis will only cease attacks against Yemeni oil and gas facilities once the Saudi-led coalition pays the salaries of employees in Houthi-controlled government ministries.[iii]
The Houthi oil and minerals minister threatened unspecified “consequences” for foreign oil companies if they continued to export Yemeni oil or natural resources on December 12.[iv] The minister also said that the Houthis “will not stand idly by” if the Yemeni government targets Houthi economic assets. The remark is likely in response to the Yemeni government freezing the accounts of 12 companies supplying fuel to Houthi-controlled areas on December 6.[v]
Somalia Security Brief:
Somali National Army (SNA) and local militias cleared several areas of Adan Yabal district, Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, between December 10 and 12.[vi] SNA officials claimed anti-al Shabaab forces killed at least fourteen al Shabaab militants near Dhabaq Labey on December 10 and that another operation on December 12 cleared al Kowthar, which was a hub for al Shabaab improvised explosive device manufacturing and distribution in the region.[vii] Anti-al Shabaab forces also secured El Muluq on December 12.[viii] The local commanders said troops are aiming to secure Run Nirgood, the last major town under al Shabaab control in Adan Yabal district and the wider Middle Shabelle region.
A December 10 report from Nairobi-based newspaper The Star said that Kenya has deployed hundreds of reinforcements to the northeastern Counties on the Somali border due a suspected increase in al Shabaab activity due to the Somali Federal Government’s central Somalia offensive.[ix] Kenyan security officials claimed there had been an increase in local reports of “unfamiliar people” that could be al Shabaab militants fleeing to Kenya. Kenyan police in Wajir and Garissa countries announced on December 11 that they had arrested seven foreign al Shabaab recruits that claimed to be fleeing the group.[x] Al Shabaab also ambushed a civilian vehicle in Mandera County on December 12, its second attack in northeastern Kenya in the last week.[xi]
SNA and local militia cleared several villages and surrounding forested areas near Mahaday, Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region, on December 11.[xii] The anti-al Shabaab forces reportedly cleared Ali Fooldhere, Obaale, and Nasuur villages, killing an estimated 34 al Shabaab militants.
Al Shabaab assassinated the Jowhar airport manager with a roadside improvised explosive device near Hanshooley, Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region, on December 11.[xiii] Al Shabaab claimed the explosion also killed a bodyguard and wounded several others.[xiv]
[v] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 9, 2022,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 9, 2022,
[vi] Horseed Media, “The Somali government said it had killed 14 al Shabaab members in an operation,” December 10, 2022, https://horseedmedia.net/dowladda-soomaaliya-oo-sheegtay-inay-howlgal-ku-dishay-14-xubnood-oo-katirsan-al-shabaab-376092; Jamaal Maxamed, “SFG and Ma’awisley forces have taken over front areas,” Caasimada, December 12, 2022, https://www.caasimada.net/ciidamada-df-iyo-macawiisleyda-oo-deegaano-horleh-la-wareegay/.
[vii] @GaroweOnline, Twitter, December 12, 2022, https://twitter.com/GaroweOnline/status/1602330443910729728?s=20&t=WcVlHk3nrDzOOqOK1IyxVw.
[viii] Radio Dalsan, “Government forces have carried out planned operations and taken over an area recently,” December 12, 2022, https://www.radiodalsan.com/wararka-idaacadda/ciidamada-dowladda-oo-howlgallo-qorsheysan-ka-fuliyay-degaan-ay-dhawaan-la-wareegeen/.
[ix] Cyrus Ombati, “More security deployed to Kenyan border as al-Shabaab loses grip,” The Star, December 10, 2022, https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2022-12-10-more-security-deployed-to-kenyan-border-as-al-shabaab-loses-grip/.
[x] Cyrus Ombati, “Security agents arrest seven al-Shabaab militants fleeing Somalia,” The Star, December 11, 2022, https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/north-eastern/2022-12-11-security-agents-arrest-seven-al-shabaab-militants-fleeing-somalia/.
[xi] Radio Risaala, “Al Shabaab killed a son and father inan attack on the outskirts of Wajir,” December 12, 2022, https://radiorisaala.com/al-shabaab-oo-wiil-aabihiis-kudilay-weerar-ka-dhacay-duleedka-wajeer/; Halbeeg, “Al-Shabaab attack injures Kenyan police officers in Garissa,” December 6, 2022, https://en.halbeeg.com/2022/12/06/al-shabaab-attack-injures-kenyan-police-officers-in-garissa/.
[xii] Zahra Axmed Gacal, “General Odawa announced that many al Shabaab were killed today,” Caasimada, December 11, 2022, https://www.caasimada.net/dhageyso-jeneraal-odawaa-oo-shaaciyey-in-shabaab-badan-la-laayey-maanta/; Radio Risaala, “Details of the fighting in the suburbs of Mahaday district,” December 11, 2022, https://radiorisaala.com/daawo-dagaal-ka-socda-duleedka-degmada-mahadaay-faah-faahin-laga-helayo/.
[xiii] Farah Ali, “An explosion caused death and injury in Jowhar,” VOA Somali, December 11, 2022, https://www.voasomali.com/a/qarax-sababay-dhimasho-iyo-dhaawac-oo-ka-dhacay-jowhar/6871406.html.
[xiv] Radio al Furqaan, “The manager of Jowhar Airport was killed in an explosion,” December 11, 2022, https://radioalfurqaan.com/2022/12/maareeyihii-garoonka-diyaaradaha-ee-jowhar-oo-qarax-lagu-dilay/.