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: Southern Movement leader says Iran seeks to train 6,500 youths in southern Yemen; military forces vacate positions in al Dhaleh governorate; members of the 9th Brigade protest in Sa’ada governorate; President Hadi approves plan to remove military units from Sana’a before Yemeni National Dialogue; security forces seize roughly 170,000 mortar shells at al Mukalla port in Hadramawt governorate; media sources dispute cause of explosion in Hadramawt governorate

Horn of Africa: Unknown gunmen shoot and kill a Somali government judge in Baidoa, Bay region; unknown gunmen shoot and kill a Somali aid worker in Mogadishu; Kenyan government says Somali refugees living in urban areas must go to refugee camps; UN officials visit Marka, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Mohammed Ali Ahmed, a Southern Movement leader, stated on December 18 that southern leaders have visited Iran to seek assistance. Ahmed added that Iran’s meddling in Yemeni affairs is not strictly limited to support for al Houthi rebels. Ahmed stated that Iran has reportedly sought to train and teach 6,500 youths in the south to spread chaos and derail the political transition process in Yemen.[1]
  • Yemeni military forces vacated a number of positions in al Dhaleh governorate on December 19. Local sources reported that the military forces left the positions, which have been held since 1994, in order to lessen the tension among local residents and the military. The 33rd Brigade, which recently transferred from Taiz governorate to al Dhaleh governorate, shelled a number of civilian locations on December 4, 2012, killing at least two civilians and wounding several more.[2]
  • Military leaders of the 9th Brigade brought in militia tribesmen to help contain violent clashes between the brigade members in Sa’ada governorate on December 18. Local sources reported that lower-level members of the 9th Brigade protested and demanded to be separated from the First Armored Division, commanded by General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar. The protesting soldiers stated that the First Armored Division’s leadership is depriving them of financial compensation.[3]
  • Local sources reported on December 19 that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi approved a plan to remove military units and from Sana’a. Several political opposition groups and civilians have demanded that Yemeni military units and bases be removed from Sana’a before the start of the Yemeni National Dialogue. Local sources added that the withdrawal of military personnel from Sana’a include units from the Republican Guards, headed by Brig. Gen. Ahmed Saleh.[4]
  • Security forces seized roughly 170,000 mortar shells at a seaport in al Mukalla city in Hadramawt governorate on December 19. Local sources reported that the mortar shells were found on board a ship sailing under a Bolivian flag. One team of investigators believes the shipment was sent from Iran with an intended destination in Yemen. Other investigators reportedly believe that the ship docked in Yemen to refuel before heading to Iraq.[5]
  • Aden al Ghad reported that a roadside bomb struck a vehicle transporting foreign workers in Ghayl Ba Wazir district of Hadramawt governorate on December 19. Aden al Ghad added that unidentified assailants planted the device. The bomb was not targeting foreign oil workers, according to official Yemeni media sources; instead, its target was Yemeni military forces in the area. Official Yemeni media sources reported that there were no casualties.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Somali government judge in Baidoa, Bay region on December 18. The killers were able to flee the scene but searches for the suspects are already underway. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[7]
  • A local Somali aid worker was killed by unknown gunmen in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu on December 19. Two men who were carrying pistols shot the aid worker as he was leaving a parking lot. The shooters were able to flee the scene and no group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack.[8]
  • The Kenyan government has ordered nearly 100,000 Somali refugees living in urban areas to move to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. The Kenyan government says they have told the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other aid organizations to only give aid to Somali asylum seekers and refugees who are living in refugee camps. Following this announcement around 200 Somali refugees were arrested in Nairobi. The Somali ambassador to Kenya denounced these arrests and said he is working hard to free those in custody.[9]
  • Officials from the UNHCR, the World Food Program, and the World Health Organization traveled to Marka, Lower Shabelle on December 18. The delegates are visiting Marka in order to assess the situation in the town and do what they can to help the Somali people living there.[10]  

[1] “Harak Leader Exposes Iranian Plots in South Yemen,” Yemen Post, December 18, 2012. Available:
[2] “The Yemeni Military in al Dhaleh Vacates Military Positions,” Aden al Ghad, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Leaders of the 9th Brigade in Sa’ada Governorate Bring in Its Tribe to Suppress Its Soldiers,” Barakish, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “After Son of Saleh Refuses to Surrender Missile System,” Mareb Press, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Security Intercepts Large Mortar Shell Shipment at Mukalla,” Yemen Observer, December 19, 2012. Available:
“Breaking.. Seizure of Ship with Tons of Explosives and Ammunition on It in al Mukalla,” Barakish, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Breaking: Explosion Targets Foreign Workers Car in Ghayl Ba Wazir and News of Victims,” Aden al Ghad, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
“Security Source in Hadramawt Denies Rumors of an Assassination Attempt on a Foreign Expert in an Oil Company,” 26 September, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Somali Judge Gets Murdered In Baidoa,” Shabelle, December 18, 2012. Available:
[8] “Somali Aid Worker Killed in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, December 19, 2012. Available:
[9] “Government Orders Refugees Back to Camps,” Daily Standard, December 18, 2012. Available:
[10]UN Relief Teams Visit Marka Town,” Shabelle, December 18, 2012. Available:
View Citations
Arrow down red
Jan '13
Dec '12
Nov '12