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: President Hadi issues decrees to restructure the Yemeni military; hundreds of armed militants reportedly relocate to Abyan governorate; security forces seize roughly 500 sniper rifles at Aden port; unidentified assailants attack electricity towers in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Two blasts hit a mosque near Eastleigh, Nairobi; Kenyan police safely detonate an IED in Mandera, Kenya; SNA to begin final assault against al Shabaab in Lower Jubba region; AMISOM to carry out operations throughout the Hiraan region; UN World Food Program airlifts food into Mogadishu; UNHCR will not allow Kenyan government to force Somali refugees into camps; Norwegian development minister meets with Somali president in Mogadishu; Somalia celebrates 69th anniversary of its police force

Yemen Security Brief

  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued decrees on December 19 to restructure the Yemeni military. The decrees call for a restructuring of the military into five separate divisions: Land Forces, Navy, Air Force, Coastal Defense Forces, and Strategic Reserve Forces. Specialty units within the command of the Strategic Reserve Forces such as the Presidential Protective Force (PFF), the newly created Missile Defense Command, and the Special Operations Command will be directly supervised by President Hadi. The decrees also eliminate both the Yemeni Republican Guards and the First Armored Division. The Republican Guards were commanded by Brig. Gen. Ahmed Saleh, son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the First Armored Division was commanded by Gen. Ali Mohsen al Ahmar. The decrees removed other former administration supporters such as ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew Yahya Abdullah Saleh, the former commander of the Central Security Forces (CSF). Restructuring of the Yemeni military is a mandated component of the Gulf and U.N.-backed political transition process in Yemen.[1]
  • Local sources reported that hundreds of armed militants relocated from northern Yemen to Abyan governorate on December 19 following the release President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s decrees to restructure the military. The militants reportedly relocated from Ma’rib, al Jawf, and other northern governorates to Abyan governorate in the south. Local sources added that unidentified influential powers in Sana’a sent the armed militants to the south to create conflict and bring down President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Local source speculated that the armed militants belong to al Qaeda.[2]
  • Security forces seized a container carrying at least 500 sniper rifle scopes at Aden port on December 19. Local sources reported that the sniper rifle scopes were shipped from China. The owner of the container has been arrested by security forces.[3]
  • Local sources reported on December 20 that electricity towers in al Shabwan region of Ma’rib governorate were attacked by unidentified individuals. Electricity to a number of cities including Sana’a has been cut off.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Two blasts went off at a mosque in the Pangani area near Eastleigh, Nairobi on December 19. The first explosion was caused by a remotely detonated IED and the second blast came from a grenade that was thrown from a car. The vehicle was able to flee the scene and has not been found. Three people were injured in the explosions and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the explosion, Kenyan police arrested 23 Somali immigrants who were not able to produce identification documents and were therefore brought in for questioning.[5]
  • Police in Mandera, Kenya safely detonated a roadside IED on December 20. Police were notified of the bomb’s location after smoke was seen coming from the ground. The IED was set to a timer and was near its time of detonation. Police are currently investigating the incident but no arrests have been made.[6]
  • A senior Somali National Army (SNA) official said they are nearly finished preparing for their final operations against al Shabaab. The final three locations the SNA will be targeting are the towns of Bu’aale, Hagar, and Jilib, Lower Jubba region.[7]
  • AMISOM officials say they will conduct operations in the Hiraan region that will expand their control beyond Beledweyne. Currently, al Shabaab controls all areas in the Hiraan region except for Beledweyne. The AMISOM official gave no time frame for when these operations would begin.[8] 
  • The United Nations World Food Program airlifted food into Mogadishu on December 19. Nearly 10 tons of a peanut butter-like paste was brought into the city in order to feed 3,500 malnourished children. There are around 18,000 malnourished children throughout the country.[9]
  • The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) did not accept Kenya’s decision to move all Somali refugees and asylum seekers to refugee camps. The UNHCR said they are trying to negotiate with the Kenyan government, but refugee registration throughout the country is still halted.[10]
  • The Norwegian Development minister, Heikki Holmas, traveled to Mogadishu on December 20. He met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and discussed Somalia’s lack of development and the ways in which it can be improved.[11]
  • Somalia celebrated the 69th anniversary of its police force on December 20. Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon and the Somali cabinet attended the ceremony which took place at the General Kahiya police training school.[12]

[1] “Yemen President Sacks Saleh’s Military Cronies,” AFP, December 20, 2012. Available:
“Yemeni President Curbs Rival’s Power in Army Overhaul,” Reuters, December 19, 2012. Available:
“Yemen's President Restructures Armed Forces,” CNN, December 20, 2012. Available:
“Yemen's President Shakes Up Army,” Associated Press, December 19, 2012. Available:
[2] “Source: Northern Powers of Influence Send Hundreds of al Qaeda Supporters to Abyan in Response to President Hadi’s Decisions,” Aden al Ghad, December 20, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Interior Ministry: Seizure of 500 Sniper Rifles and 1,000 Ammunition Holders inside a Container in Aden Port,” al Masdar Online, December 19, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Breaking… Loss of Service at Ma’rib Gas Plant Again,” Barakish, December 20, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “At Least Two Injured in Twin Blasts,” Daily Standard, December 20, 2012. Available:
“Two Injured in Eastleigh Blasts,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
“Two Injured by Blasts in Somali Area of Nairobi,” Reuters, December 19, 2012. Available:
[6] “Police Detonates a Planted Bomb in Mandera,” Hiiraan Online, December 20, 2012. Available:
[7] “Somali Troops to Drive Al Shabaab Out of Juba Regions: Military Official,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
[8] “AMISOM to Expand its Operation Outside Beledweyne,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
[9] “UN Begins Food Aid Airlift to Somalia,” Alzajeera, December 20, 2012. Available:
[10] “UN Rejects Kenya Move to Confine Refugees to Camps,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
[11] “Norwegian Minister of International Development visit Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
[12] “Somalia Marks its Police Day,” Bar Kulan, December 20, 2012. Available:
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