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: Reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; Hadi government forces secure route in Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen; Emirati-backed political council announces date of first National Assembly; Emirati-backed security forces arrest AQAP militants in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; al Houthi movement fires Qaher-M2 missile at Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Somali Prime Minister states SFG requested suspension of U.S. aid to fight corruption; Kenyan opposition rival legislature rejects incumbent president’s legitimacy; Somali police arrest three politicians accused of treason; reported U.S. airstrike hits al Shabaab base in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

A reported U.S. airstrike targeted suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yakla area, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 15. Local news sources reported that the airstrike killed multiple civilians. U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP and ISIS militants in Yakla in November and October.[1] 

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Hadi government, backed by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, secured a route linking eastern Yemen to Sana’a on December 15. Hadi government forces took control of Bayhan city, Shabwah governorate after launching an offensive from the al Naqub area in Usaylan district on December 15. Hadi government forces continued to clear al Houthi positions and dismantle mines in Usaylan, Bayhan, and Ain districts in Shabwah on December 18.[2]

Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaydi announced on December 16 that the STC will hold its first National Assembly meeting on December 23 in Aden city, southern Yemen. The STC is an Emirati-backed governing body that rivals the internationally recognized Yemeni government in southern Yemen. The Hadi government has not held a session of parliament since 2015.[3]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces clashed with two suspected AQAP militants al Surrah town, Lawder district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 16. Two AQAP militants surrendered after a tribal mediator intervened. AQAP militants fired a 82mm mortar at al Hizam Security Forces in Mahfad district, Abyan on December 12 and 15.[4]

The al Houthi movement claimed to fire a Qaher-M2 missile at a Saudi command center in Jazan region, southwest Saudi Arabia on December 16. Saudi officials claimed the missile failed and fell in Hajjah governorate, northwestern Yemen. Al Houthi cross-border attacks are part of a campaign intended to impose a cost on Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) requested the U.S. suspend aid to the Somali National Army (SNA) on December 14 to fight corruption, according to Prime Minister Hassan Khaire. U.S. and SFG officials reviewed the distribution of U.S. aid to the SNA during the first three months of the incumbent administration and found that SNA quartermasters failed to account for several months of supplies. Chief of SNA General Abdiweli Gorod rejected the U.S.-SFG report that illustrated corruption in the army.[6]

The opposition-led Coast State People’s Assembly rejected the legitimacy of incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government on December 18. Coast State People’s Assembly is the opposition’s rival legislature representing the counties touching Kenya’s eastern coast. The assembly also urged opposition leader Raila Odinga to swear in as president. Kenyan police arrested senior opposition party advisor Miguna Miguna on charges of disturbing the peace upon his arrival in Mombasa, southeastern Kenya on December 17. Miguna traveled to Mombasa to attend the assembly in the Coast State. Kenyan police also temporarily detained senior opposition advisor David Ndii for similar charges on December 3.[7] 

Somali police arrested former opposition Wadajir party candidate Abdirhman Abdishakur in Mogadishu on December 18. Somali police killed five of Abdishakur’s body guards after he attempted to resist arrest. Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir charged Abdishakur with treason based on allegations he received foreign money to overthrow the SFG. Dahir also charged two Somali Federal MPs with treason on December 17. All three politicians have aggressively criticized the SFG in the past.[8]

A reported U.S. airstrike targeted an al Shabaab base near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on December 16. The strike killed several senior al Shabaab leaders in Berhani village, 30 miles northwest of Kismayo, according to a SNA officer. The U.S. has conducted 12 airstrikes targeting al Shabaab since November 2017.[9]

[1] “U.S. airstrikes in al Bayda, killing a family of three women and two children,” Al Masdar, December 15, 2017,; and “Two women were killed in a raid by a US drone in al Bayda,” Yemen Press, December 16, 2017,
[2] “Yemeni army pushes Houthis from outpost in southern Yemen,” Reuters, December 15, 2017,; “Government forces control the latest Houthi positions in Bayhan, western Shabwah governorate,” Al Masdar, December 16, 2017,; “Shabwah: a military escalation of the army and resistance during the battles of the liberation of Usaylan-Bayhan,” Aden Tomorrow, December 18, 2017,; and “Government forces control areas where the Houthis are holed up in Usaylan district, Shabwah,” December 17, 2017,
[3] “The STC Presidium Approved a Date for the First National Assembly Meeting,” Southern Transitional Council, December 16, 2017,
[4] “Details of the arrest of two leading al Qaeda leaders,” Aden Tomorrow, December 16, 2017,; AQAP militants target al Hizam Security Forces in Mahfad, Telegram, December 15, 2017; Demolinari, Twitter, December 15, 2017,
[5] “Ballistic Qaher-M2 hits command and control center of the Saudi army in Jazan,” Al Masirah, December 16, 2017,; and “VIDEO: Coalition forces destroy ballistic missile workshops in Yemen,” Al Arabiya, December 16, 2017,
[6] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalia PM Says His Government Demanded US Aid Cut,”VOA, December 16, 2017,; and “Military chief Gen. Gorod rebuffs graft reports against national army,” Goobjoog, December 17, 2017,
[7] “Coast People’s Assembly declares President Uhuru illegitimate,” The Standard, December 18, 2017,
[8] “Attorney General: I am warning against more crime,” Goobjoog, December 18, 2017,; “Somali Government Speaks On The Arrest Of Former Minister,” Radio Shabelle, December 18, 2017,; and “We shall remain an opposition party to the Somali government says Wadajir chairperson,” Goobjoog, December 18, 2017,   
[9] “Senior Al-Shabaab Militants Killed In Somalia Drone Strike,” Radio Shabelle, December 16, 2017,

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