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: AQAP claims attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and al Bayda governorates; Hadi government and popular resistance forces repel al Houthi-Saleh attack in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate; U.S. Department of Defense approves weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE; former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh calls on the National Salvation Government to address southern movement activists

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants execute two election delegates near Harardhere, Mudug region; al Shabaab destroys telecommunications equipment in Daba City, Mandera County, Kenya; suspected al Shabaab gunmen kill SNA soldier in Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed six attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and al Bayda governorates between December 5 and December 12. AQAP also claimed to retake Mount Kasad, a strategically significant mountain, in al Bayda governorate on December 12, one day after al Houthi-Saleh forces had seized the territory.[1]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and popular resistance forces repelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on December 13. These attacks are a part of Hadi government shaping operations for an offensive on Sana’a. Hadi government and Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces took control of al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Shabwah governorate in an effort to sever al Houthi-Saleh supply lines running from Shabwah to Ma’rib December 8.[2]
  • The U.S. Department of Defense approved a multi-billion dollar weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other regional allies on December 8. The sale includes CH-47F Chinook Cargo Helicopters for Saudi Arabia and Apache AH-64E Helicopters for the UAE. The U.S. Senate rejected a bipartisan proposal to block arms sale to Saudi Arabia on September 21. The proposal cited the humanitarian impact of the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen.[3]
  • Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced plans to unite Yemen against the threat of a southern secessionist movement on December 8. Former President Saleh called upon the National Salvation Government, a body formed by the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council in Sana’a, to respond to southern activists by “taking their wealth to cleanse their sins.” Saleh’s statement recalls actions taken against the defeated South Yemen following the 1994 civil war.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants killed two election delegates for Galmudug State near Harardhere in Mudug region on December 13. Suspected al Shabaab militants killed Mohamed Tabari Shikhow, an elder and expected delegate in the Yaqshid district of Mogadishu, on October 20.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants destroyed telecommunications equipment in Daba city in Mandera County, Kenya on December 12. The attack on the communications equipment followed an al Shabaab assault on nearby El Wak town, located on the Kenya-Somali border. Somali and Kenyan officials denied al Shabaab’s claim to capture the city on December 11. Local sources confirmed that al Shabaab fighters occupied the town and lectured civilians after Somali National Army (SNA) forces retreated.[6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab gunmen killed a SNA soldier in the Qoryooley area of Lower Shabelle region on December 12. The militants fled the scene before security personnel arrived. Security personnel detained five suspected al Shabaab militants in Qoryooley on December 5. Al Shabaab also operates training camps on the outskirts of Qoryooley.[7]
[1] “AQAP Claims Retaking Strategic Mountain from Houthis in al-Bayda’, Attacks in Ibb” SITE December 13, 2016, available by subscription at
[2] “Houthis killed six and wounded several others for renewed fighting in Sirwah district, west of Ma’rib governorate,” December 13, 2016,
[3] “US Arms Sale Deal Approved: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco Receive Billions In Weapons Despite Yemen War Concerns,” IB Times, December 9, 2016,
[4] “Southerners been saying about this war, it’s a war against #SouthYemen,” Southern Hirak, YouTube, December 11, 2016,
[5] “Al shabaab kills electoral delegates near Harardhere,” Shabelle News, December 13, 2016,
[6] “Al-Shabaab militants carry out 2nd attack in Mandera,” Shabelle News, December 13, 2016,; “SNA denies claims that Al-Shabaab captured El Wak,” Shabelle News, December 13, 2016,; Live From Mogadishu, Twitter, December 11, 2016,; and Live From Mogadishu, Twitter, December 11, 2016,
[7] “Somalia: Govt soldier shot dead in Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, December 12, 2016,  
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