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 Ma’rib governorate; AQAP claims attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb governorate; al Houthi-Saleh delegation travels to China; Hadi government forces prepare for intensified operations in al Jawf and Ma’rib governorates; Hadi government and popular resistance forces seize al Houthi-Saleh territory in northern Sana’a governorate; Emirati-trained security forces to secure oil sites in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: SNA forces ambush al Shabaab militants near Wajid town, Bakool region; U.S. provides six Huey II helicopters to Kenyan Defense Forces

Yemen Security Brief

  • A reported U.S. airstrike targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Wadi Obeida, Ma’rib governorate on December 2. The airstrike killed three AQAP militants including a local leader, Abdullah al Obeidi. Four reported U.S. airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in the past two weeks following a month-long pause.[1]
  • AQAP militants claimed to kill seven al Houthi-Saleh fighters in the Jibn area, southwestern Ibb governorate on December 2. AQAP claimed an attack against al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Ibb governorate on November 28. [2]
  • Emirati-trained counterterrorism forces seized a reported Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) improvised explosive device (IED) factory in Aden city on December 2. Intelligence from the Saudi-led coalition prompted the raid on the IED factory, according to a Hadi government spokesman.[3]
  • The al Houthi-Saleh delegation left China on December 1 following a meeting with the general director of West Asian and North African affairs to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian crisis and current political and military situation in Yemen. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly invited the al Houthi-Saleh delegation to China.[4]
  • Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar arrived in Ma’rib governorate on December 2 to coordinate preparations for an imminent “broad military operation.” The 37th Armored Brigade loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government redeployed from Hadramawt governorate to Ma’rib governorate on December 1. A Hadi government official confirmed on December 2 that the 37th Armored Brigade will join fronts in al Jawf and Ma’rib governorates as part of shaping operations for an offensive on Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a.[5]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces seized al Houthi-Saleh territory in Arhab area, Nihm district, northeast of Sana’a city on December 2. Hadi government forces seized Mount Babin and the surrounding al Tabab area. Hadi government and popular forces killed six al Houthi-Saleh fighters and suffered two casualties. The Saudi-led coalition also struck a Republican Guard ballistic missile base in Arhab on December 2. Republican Guard units are loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. President Hadi’s government seeks to control Nihm ahead of an offensive on Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a.[6]
  • Emirati-trained security forces from Hadramawt governorate deployed to the coastal Belhaf area in Shabwah governorate on December 2. The additional forces will bolster local popular resistance forces to secure energy facilities in the area. Militants last bombed a pipeline in Ataq, central Shabwah on November 1.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces ambushed al Shabaab militants near Wajid town in Bakool region on December 1. Somali officials claimed to kill multiple al Shabaab fighters and suffer one SNA casualty. Al Shabaab claimed to kill 11 SNA soldiers in the attack.[8]
  • The U.S. donated six Huey II helicopters to Kenya on December 2 to help Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) combat al Shabaab. Kenyan officials noted that the helicopters would improve KDF operational capability inside Somalia. Kenya is also attempting to neutralize the al Shabaab threat by constructing a border fence along the Kenya-Somali border. KDF engineering units are constructing a barbed wire fence between Kenya’s Mandera Town and Somalia’s Bula Hawa. Al Shabaab militants conducted a series of operations targeting civilians in Mandera town on October 2016.[9]
[1] “Three «Al-Qaeda» killed in a strike in Ma’rib,” Aden Lang, December 2, 2016,
[2] AQAP claims to kill seven al Houthis in Jibn area of Ibb governorate, Telegram December 2, 2016.
[3] “Aden security: dismantling a “Daesh” terrorist car bomb factory in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, December 2, 2016,
[4] “Ambiguity surrounding the visit of a delegation of "Houthi" to China,” Barakish, December 1, 2016,
[5] “26 Killed and a missile base in Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, December 2, 2016,
[6]“Government forces control one of the mountains east of Sanaa after the battles against rebels,” al Masdar, December 2, 2016,; “Yemeni army frees Mount Babin east of Sana’a,” Aden Tomorrow, December 2, 2016,; and  “26 Killed and a missile base in Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, December 2, 2016,
[7] “The arrival of the first batch of members of the resistance to Balhaf Shabwa province Rudum District,” Aden Tomorrow, December 2, 2016,
[8] “Somali forces kill several Al-Shabaab fighters in Bakool region,” Goobjoog News, December 2, 2016,; and “Al Shabaab claims killing 11 Soldiers in Bakool fight,” Shabelle News, December 2, 2016,
[9] “US gives KDF helicopters to fight Al-Shabab in Somalia,” Shabelle News, December 2, 2016,; and “Kenya to finish Building Wall Along Somali Border,” Shabelle News, December 2, 2016,  
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