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: Yemeni foreign minister reiterates conditions for peace negotiations; Saudi Arabia announces it will no longer use UK-manufactured cluster munitions; AQAP claims IED attack on Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Abyan governorate; WHO reports more than 10,000 cholera cases in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Media sources confirm ISIS-linked forces clashed with Puntland Security Forces in Bir Ladhidh, Bar region; SNA forces protest salary payments by occupying checkpoints in Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi stated that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government will not agree on a mechanism for a political process until the al Houthi-Saleh alliance transfers heavy weapons to a third party, withdraws from seized territory, and relinquishes control of government institutions. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman issued a communique on December 18 that stated the “operative measures” of the peace process, including disarmament, will not take place until all parties sign a comprehensive agreement. The Hadi government Minister of Tourism Dr. Mohammed Qubati criticized the communique and accused Secretary Kerry of being detached from the situation on the ground. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed issued a clarification stating that Jordan will host a meeting to coordinate a ceasefire, not the next round of peace negotiations.[1]
  • Saudi Arabia announced that it will no longer use UK-manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions in Yemen. The Saudi government previously denied using cluster munitions in Yemen. The announcement, issued by the Saudi Press Agency, claimed that Saudi Arabia used the munitions against legitimate targets away from civilian population centers. Saudi Arabia is not a signatory of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed an improvised explosive attack (IED) targeting Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate on December 20. AQAP’s Telegram post claimed that the IED blast killed five members of the al Hizam security forces. Local news reports confirmed the attack.[3]
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are approximately 10,148 cases of cholera in Yemen as of December 13. Sixty-five percent of cases occurred in Aden, al Bayda, al Hudaydah, and Taiz governorates but nearly every governorate has been affected by cholera. A WHO taskforce is supporting 26 cholera treatment centers and two national health emergency rooms in Aden and Sana’a. Over three million internally displaced persons living in improvised camps are more susceptible to the outbreak due to poor sanitation and living conditions. The civil war has destroyed more than 45% of Yemen’s medical facilities.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali media sources confirmed that Puntland Security Forces (PSF) clashed with ISIS-linked fighters in Bir Ladhidh village in Bari region on December 19. The pro-ISIS Amaq News Agency claimed the ISIS-linked forces killed 11 PSF forces, but no casualties were confirmed by Somali media. PSF forces attacked the ISIS-linked forces’ base in Bir Ladhidh. PSF forces drove the ISIS-linked fighters from Qandala town, 20 miles north of Bir Ladhidh, on December 7.[5]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers have seized checkpoints along Balcad and Jowhar towns in Middle Shabelle region to protest delayed salary payments on December 20. Some SNA forces in the area have not been compensated in months, according to one SNA officer. Salary delays have also plagued African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. The EU cut funding to AMISOM by 20 percent in January 2016.[6]
[1]“Mikhlafi: dialogue and peaceful solution is the option to take Yemen out of the cycle of chaos and war,” al Masdar, December 20, 2016,; “Yemeni minister: We ask the world not to put pressure on us,” Aden Tomorrow, December 20, 2016,; and “Jordan will not host the Yemeni consultations,” Aden Times, December 20, 2016,
[2] “Coalition Forces supporting legitimacy in Yemen confirm that all Coalition countries aren't members to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Saudi Press Agency, December 19, 2016,
[3] AQAP claims IED attack targeting al Hizam forces in Lawder, Abyan governorate, Telegram, December 19, 2016; and “Witnesses: 7 injured in an explosion targeting a government vehicle in the city of Lawder in Abyan governorate,” al Masdar, December 20, 2016,
[4] “Weekly update - Cholera cases in Yemen,” WHO, December 13, 2016,
[5] “Puntland forces clash with ISIL fighters near Qandala,” Shabelle News, December 20, 2016,
[6] “Mutinous soldiers seize government manning checkpoints in Middle Shabelle,” Goobjoog News, December 20, 2016,  
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