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: Yemeni government removes Shabwah’s governor; al Houthi forces capture district in Ma’rib

Somalia: Al Shabaab briefly seizes strategic town in central Somalia; al Shabaab IED attack kills four AMISOM troops; al Shabaab VBIED wounds two MPs in south-central Somalia; US officials pressure Puntland president to resolve security crisis; Somali opposition leaders announce a national consultative conference

Yemen Security Brief

The Yemeni government may have removed the Shabwani governor from office on December 12.[i] The Shabwah governor flew from Seiyun, Hadramawt governorate, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after a meeting with the Yemeni interior minister on December 12.[ii] Yemeni media claimed the Yemeni government appointed the governor to the Yemeni legislature’s upper house.[iii]

Al Houthi forces likely captured al Jubah district, Ma’rib governorate on December 13.[iv] Al Houthi forces are attempting to seize the only road traveling south from Ma’rib city. Some Yemeni media claimed al Houthi forces began attacking central Balaq Mountain on December 13.[v] Pro-government media claimed pro-government forces recaptured some positions on eastern Balaq Mountain.[vi]

Somalia Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants briefly seized Mataban town, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on December 13.[vii] Mataban is a key town on the highway between Hiraan and Galgudud’s regional capitals. Al Shabaab moved into Mataban shortly after Somali National Army (SNA) and Hirshabelle troops left the town early in the morning. Al Shabaab took villages along the highway connecting Beledweyne and Mataban on December 12. Al Shabaab forces withdrew and set up bases outside of Mataban after blowing up administrative buildings.[viii] Government forces recaptured the town later on December 13.

Al Shabaab detonated two improvised explosive devices targeting Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops near Mahaday town, Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, on December 11.[ix] The blast killed four soldiers.

Al Shabaab detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting Somali MPs in Jowhar, the administrative capital of the Middle Shabelle region in south-central Somalia on December 11.[x] The blast killed a clan elder, wounded two MPs, and injured three other civilians at a restaurant.

An unnamed US diplomat said the Puntland security standoff could allow Islamic State-Somalia and al Shabaab to expand operations in Puntland State, northern Somalia, on December 10.[xi] US officials began pressuring Puntland president Said Deni to find a quick and peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Bossaso, northern Somalia in early December.[xii]

Opposition leaders announced plans for a national consultative conference on December 13.[xiii] Organizers said they would have a committee in charge of military security for the conference. The conference will be open to the entire Somali community and not limited to politicians.

[i] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “’Bin Adyo’ leaves for ‘Saudi Arabia’, amid news of his dismissal and appointment to a new position,” December 12, 2021,; and Akhbar Yemen, “Summoning ‘bin Adyo’ to Riyadh and expectations of his dismissal,” December 13, 2021,

[ii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Interior Minister Haidan meets the governor of Shabwah and reveals his position on the Houthi advance in the west of the governorate,” December 12, 2021,

[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “’Bin Adyo’ leaves for ‘Saudi Arabia’, amid news of his dismissal and appointment to a new position,” December 12, 2021,

[iv] News Yemen Politics, “The battles of Ma’rib have moved to a combat scene in central Balaq and the outskirts of the Wadi district,” December 13, 2021,

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Cutting off the supply lines in the al Balaq front in Ma’rib… and carrying out the process of encircling and besieging dozens of fighters (latest developments),” December 13, 2021,

[vii] Istar Cabdi Yuusuf, “Al Shabaab takes over Mataban district,” Caasimada, December 13, 2021,

[viii] Radio Dalsan, “Al-Shabaab Destroys Mataban District Police Station,” December 13, 2021,

[ix] Abdirasak Tuuyare, “Deadly blast kills 4 AU soldiers in Somalia – Al Shabaab,” Mareeg News, December 12, 2021,

[x] Goobjoog News, “Two regional MPs inured in al Shabaab bombing in Jowhar,” December 11, 2021,

[xi] Michael M. Phillips, “Caught in a Political Crossfire, U.S.-Trained Somali Commandos Suspend Fight Against Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2021,

[xii] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 10, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 10, 2021,

[xiii] Abdullahi Osman Farah, “Has the Union of Opposition Candidates moved in the direction of war?” Caasimada, December 13, 2021,

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