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: Iran’s Foreign Minister asks about fate of kidnapped Iranian diplomat; Saudi paper alleges Iran runs military training camps in Eritrea; Presidential Guards arrested for ties to AQAP; subcommittee stalled on Southern Issue; Yemeni Red Crescent gains access to north Hajjah; Mahwit governor survives assassination attempt

Horn of Africa: Somali Defense Minister promises defeat of al Shabaab in 2014; local mayor killed in Lower Shabelle; EU appoints new commander for training mission; ONLF claims attacks in Ogaden region, Ethiopia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif placed a call to Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi late December 16 emphasizing his, “deep concerns over the fate of Nour Ahmad Nikhbat,” an Iranian diplomat that went missing in August 2013. Zarif warned that Iran, “would make sure Yemen owns up to its legal responsibilities,” and, “qualified the attack…as inhumane and intolerable.”[1]
  • A Saudi newspaper, al Watan, reported that classified documents reveal three locations in Eritrea where Iran has been providing military training to al Houthi members.[2]
  • Sources reported that 56 military forces belonging to the Presidential Guard of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi were arrested for suspected ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and for an alleged role in AQAP sleeper cells. The arrests come after conflicting reports claiming that the attack on the Defense Ministry was a simultaneous assassination attempt on President Hadi.[3]
  • Nadia Abdulla, a member of the 8+8 National Dialogue Conference Subcommittee working on the Southern Issue, told the Yemen Times that the group was not close to reaching an agreement in the near future. Abdulla discussed a possible six-region split, including four northern regions and two southern.[4]
  • The Yemeni Red Crescent Society was able to access the al Faj and al Fadiha areas in the Hajjah governorate after fierce clashes erupted there on December 5. Victims’ families were able to retrieve their dead at the Haradh Public Hospital almost a week after renewed clashes in the area.[5]
  • The governor of Mahwit governorate survived an assassination attempt while traveling back from his brother’s funeral. Ahmed Ali Mohsen al Ahwal did not sustain any injuries, though reports claim two men traveling with him were injured.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somalia’s Minister of Defense Abdihaki Haji Fiqi announced that the Somali government would remove al Shabaab from Somalia in 2014. He noted that the Somali government troops, supported by AMISOM, were prepared to face al Shabaab.[7]
  • A suspected al Shabaab ambush killed the mayor of Balow, a town along the Shabelle River in Lower Shabelle region on December 16. The mayor, Mohamed Nur Eni, also known as “Mad Nur,” was traveling from Bariri town to Balow.[8]
  • The European Union training mission in Somalia (EUTM) welcomed a new mission commander on December 17. Italian Brigadier General Massimo Mingiardi will assume command from Brigadier General Gerald Aherne on February 15, 2014.[9]
  • Abdulaahi Yasin, a commander in the Ethiopian Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), claimed credit for a series of attacks in the past week in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.[10]   


[1] “Iran Calls on Yemen to Return its Kidnapped Diplomat Amid New Bout of Violence,” Yemen Post, December 17, 2013. Available:
[2] “Iran Trains ‘al Houthis’ in northern Eritrea,” December 16, 2013. Available:
[3] “Kuwaiti Newspaper: The Arrest of 56 Military Forces of the Presidential Guard on Suspicion of Belonging to al Qaeda,” Mareb Press, December 17, 2013. Available:
[4] “NDC Subcommittee: Still no Consensus on Yemen’s Potential Regions,” Yemen Times, December 17, 2013. Available:
[5] “NGO Transports Dead in Hajja,” Yemen Times, December 17, 2013. Available:
[6] “Governor of Mahwit Ahmed Ali Mohsen al Ahwal Survives Assassination Attempt,” Mareb Press, December 17, 2013. Available:
[7] O.A. Osman, “Somalia Defense Minister Says the Government will Eradicate Alshabab by 2014 from the Whole Country,” December 17, 2013. Available:
[8] “Government Official Killed a Day after al-Shabaab Raid in Mogadishu,” Harar 24 Online, December 16, 2013. Available:
[9] “New Mission Commander for EU Training Mission in Somalia,” Council of European Union Press Release, December 17, 2013. Available:
[10] Mohamed Faarah, “ONLF Commander: We Have Attacked Chinese Convey in Ogaden,” OgadenToday, December 14, 2013. Available:
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