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 discusses US presidential election process; proal Qaeda media claims AQAP fired rocket at liquified natural gas plant in Shabwah governorate; Hadi governmentaligned forces announce complete withdrawal from Abyan

Horn of Africa: SFG severs diplomatic ties with Kenya; al Shabaab reportedly attacks Kenyan police station in Mandera County; Mozambican security forces attack suspected ISCA militants in Cabo Delgado province; Somali security forces kill and injure anti-government protestors in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) distributed a local bulletin for Yemenis on December 13, discussing how US presidential elections function. The group discussed whether a republican or democratic US president affects Muslims.[1]

A pro–al Qaeda media outlet claimed on December 15 that AQAP fired a rocket at a liquified natural gas plant in southern Yemen’s Shabwah governorate on December 15. The outlet did not provide details on the date of the attack. AQAP has not claimed the attack thus far.[2]

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi said on December 15 that they fully withdrew from Abyan governorate’s frontlines in southern Yemen as part of the power-sharing Riyadh Agreement. The Saudi-led coalition asserted on December 14 that Hadi’s government and the Transitional Political Council of the South agreed to separate their respective military forces in Abyan in accordance with the agreement.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Somalia’s Federal Government (SFG) severed diplomatic ties with Kenya on December 15, citing the Kenyan government’s alleged interference in Somali politics. The SFG dismissed Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia in late November after accusing him of pressuring Somalia’s Jubbaland State president to renege on a formal agreement with the SFG.[4]

Al Shabaab militants reportedly attacked a Kenyan police station in northeastern Kenya’s Mandera County on December 15. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a roadside improvised explosive device attack targeting police officers in Mandera County in late November.[5]

Mozambican Defense Armed Forces (FADM) attacked suspected Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCA) militants in Mocimboa da Praia city in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province on December 15. The clashes killed at least six Mozambican soldiers and caused remaining soldiers to retreat. ISCA claimed repelling a joint Mozambican-Tanzanian armed forces attack on Mocimboa da Praia city in early September.[6]

Somali security forces killed at least four anti-government protestors and injured an unknown number of others following demonstrations against Somalia’s president in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on December 15.[7]

[1] “AQAP Focuses on U.S. Presidential Election Result in Local Bulletin for Yemenis,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 14, 2020, available by subscription at

[2] “Al-Qaeda reportedly fires rockets at gas plant in southern Yemen,” BBC Monitoring, December 16, 2020, available by subscription at

[3] “Yemen army withdraws from Abyan front lines in step towards new government,” BBC Monitoring, December 15, 2020, available by subscription at; and Jessica Kocan and Hannah Kuperman, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 14, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 14, 2020,

[4] Somalia Severs Diplomatic Ties With Kenya,” New York Times, December 15, 2020,; “Somalia Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Kenya, Citing Interference,” Bloomberg, December 15, 2020,; and Hannah Kuperman and Luc Sasseville, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 2, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 2, 2020,

[5] 'Al-Shabab Militants' Destroy Police Station in North-eastern Kenya,” BBC, December 14, 2020, available by subscription at; “5 Police Officers Injured in Mandera IED Attack,” Capital FM, November 30, 2020,; and “Shabaab Claims 53 Somali Soldiers Killed in Mudug Offensive, 20 Casualties Among Kenyan Troops in Bomb Blast in Mandera,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 30, 2020, available by subscription at

[6] “Insurgents Receive Surprise Attack on Awasse,” Pinnacle news, December 16, 2020,; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 9, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 9, 2020,

[7] “Scores Injured as Anti-Farmaajo Protests Break Out in Mogadishu,” Hiiraan, December 15, 2020,; and “Four Shot Dead as “Anti-Farmaajo Protests Spread Across Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, December 15, 2020,

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