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: Emirati and Saudi Crown Princes meet with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party members in Riyadh;  U.S. congress members introduce bill to sanction Iran for its support of al Houthi movement; al Houthi forces release 37 hostages in Sana’a; AQAP militants shell Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. suspends aid to SNA over corruption concerns; al Shabaab detonates SVEST at police academy in Mogadishu; al Shabaab releases video of September raid on SNA base in Gedo region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islah party leaders Mohammed al Yedoumi and Abdul Wahab al Anisi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 13. Salman met separately with Islah party leadership on November 9, but this is the first meeting between Zayed and the Islah party. The Vice President of the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC), which rivals the internationally recognized Yemeni government in southern Yemen, called this meeting a step in the right direction. The STC banned the Islah party from Aden city, southern Yemen in July, and Emirati-backed security forces temporarily arrested Islah party members in Aden in October.[1] 

U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ted Poe (R-TX), members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to sanction Iran for its support of the al Houthi movement on December 11. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley publicly displayed evidence of Iran’s military support for the al Houthi movement, including ballistic missile components on December 14.[2]

Al Houthi forces released 37 hostages from a TV station affiliated with the late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a on December 14. International advocacy organizations called for the immediate release of 41 journalists whom the al Houthi movement held hostage after overrunning the station on December 5. An official from the internationally recognized Hadi government confirmed that the other four hostages died after sustaining injuries from the al Houthi takeover of the station on December 11.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants shelled Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 12, according to AQAP’s media outlet.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The U.S. suspended food and fuel aid to the Somali National Army (SNA) due to concerns over corruption on December 14. SNA quartermasters failed to account for several months of supplies. The majority of SNA forces lacked rations and one third of troops lacked weapons, according to American officials. The suspension comes as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) begins to withdraw forces and transfer security responsibilities to the SNA.[5] 

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) targeting the General Kahiye Police Academy in Hamar Jabjab district, Mogadishu on December 14. The blast killed over 15 police officers, according to Somali officials. Al Shabaab militants killed three police officers in Mogadishu on December 12 as part of a campaign to degrade security in the capital.[6]

Al Shabaab released a video of its September 11 raid on an SNA base in Beled Hawo, Gedo region, southern Somalia on December 13. The militants captured two villages near the base and released several prisoners. The video also features an interview with a suicide bomber and pictures of the weapons seized during the raid. The video is part of the series “And be harsh against them.” Al Shabaab released Arabic and Somali versions of the video.[7]

[1] “A step that could reshape the political scene, al Yedoumi: Our meeting with the Saudi and Abu Dhabi polygons was fruitful,” Al Masdar, December 14, 2017,; Hani bin Brik, Twitter, December 14, 2017,
[2] Cristina Marcos, “GOP lawmakers call for Iran sanctions over its role in Yemen,” The Hill, December 11, 2017,
[3] “Houthis release crew of Yemen Today channel,” Aden Lang, December 14, 2017,
[4] Maher Farrukh, Twitter, December 14, 2017,
[5] Katharine Houreld, “Exclusive: U.S. suspends aid to Somalia's battered military over graft,” Reuters, December 14, 2017,
[6] “UPDATE: Police identify suicide bomber, death toll at 17,” Goobjoog, December 14, 2017,
[7] Terror Monitor, Twitter, December 14, 2017,

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