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 condemns ISIS attack on military camp in Aden; Yemen’s largest wheat importer halts contracts; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces along the Lahij-Taiz border; Hadi government and popular resistance forces repel al Houthi-Saleh attack in al Jawf

Horn of Africa: ASWJ and Galmudug security forces clash near Abudwak, Galgudud region; Somali electoral officials seek to disqualify 11 MP-elects

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued a statement on December 14 condemning a December 10 Islamic State of Iraq al Sham (ISIS) suicide attack on a military camp in Aden. The statement claims that the attack killed unwilling recruits and members of a tribe aligned with AQAP. The statement also accused ISIS of trying to create a rift between Yemeni tribes and AQAP. AQAP is positioning itself as more moderate than ISIS by criticizing ISIS’s ideology and “careless” attacks.[1]
  • Yemen’s largest wheat importer, Fahem Group, notified the trade ministry in Sana’a on November 30 that it will not be able to complete any new contracts for wheat due to insufficient bank funds. Fahem Group imports an estimated 30-40 percent of Yemen’s wheat. A source from the Central Bank in Sana’a stated that it has approximately two months of wheat reserves as of mid-December. The UN reported in June 2016 that more than 14 million Yemenis are food insecure. [2]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Kahboub area, along the southwestern border between Lahij and Taiz governorates, on December 15. Saudi-led coalition warplanes also struck Mokha port city, just north of Kahboub. The Hadi government announced its intention to seize the territory surrounding the Bab al Mandeb Strait, which Kahboub borders, in late November. An estimated 40 percent of the world’s oil transported by sea passes through the Bab al Mandeb Strait.[3]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack near Khob area, southern al Jawf governorate on December 15. Hadi government forces launched a counterattack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in the same area, according to the commander of Hadi government forces in northern Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched a Zilzal-3 ballistic missile targeting Hadi government forces in al Jawf before the attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ), a Sufi Islamist paramilitary group, clashed with Galmudug State security forces just south of Abudwak town in Galgudud region on December 15. The fighting killed at least one individual and displaced civilians. ASWJ has denied overtures from Galmudug and Somali National Army (SNA) security forces to formally join their ranks. HirShabelle State security forces seized weapons in Middle Shabelle region intended for ASWJ forces on December 14.[5]
  • Somalia’s electoral dispute resolution boards is refusing to allow 11 recently elected parliamentarians to take office due to accusations of corruption and fraud. UN Special Envoy to Somalia Michael Keating met with the electoral dispute board in Mogadishu on December 16. Some state-level administrations that elected the 11 MPs have refused to hold new elections. The parliamentary impasse may delay Somalia’s presidential contest to early 2017.[6]
[1] Demolinari, Twitter, December 15, 2016,
[2] Jonathan Saul and Maha El Dahan, “Exclusive: Yemen traders halt new wheat imports as famine approaches,” Reuters, December 16, 2016,; and Tom Miles, “Yemen edging nearer famine as war, 'shredded economy' take toll: U.N. official,” Reuters, December 16, 2016,
[3] “Renewed fighting between government troops and rebels in Kahboub and alliance bombed site in Mokha,” al Masdar, December 15, 2016,
[4] “Official: Government forces repel an al Houthi attack on al Hanjar camp in al-Jawf province,” al Masdar December 15, 2016,
[5] “1 dead as militia fight pro-govt army near Abudwak,” Shabelle News, December 15, 2016,
[6] “Electoral disputes body meets with UN Envoy,” December 16, 2016,  
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