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: U.S. Ambassador to the UN says latest al Houthi missile attack similar to previous attacks with Iranian weapons; Saudi-led coalition promises to keep major northern port open; reported U.S. drone strike kills two AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate, eastern Yemen; AQAP militants target Emirati-backed forces in Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen; AQAP militants target al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims IED attack on joint U.S.-Puntland patrol in northern Somalia; ISIS militants attack SNA checkpoint in Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia; al Shabaab executes three elders in Bakool region, southern Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated that the December 19 al Houthi ballistic missile attack on Riyadh is similar to previous al Houthi attacks conducted with weapons provided by Iran. Haley presented evidence of Iranian military support to the al Houthi movement on December 14. Haley also proposed options for an international response to Iranian support for the al Houthi movement, including strengthening current resolutions, implementing new resolutions, and imposing new sanctions.
The Saudi-led coalition pledged not to blockade port in response to an al Houthi missile attack that targeted Riyadh on December 19. Al Hudaydah is a major port in northern Yemen that serves areas controlled by the al Houthi movement. The Saudi-led coalition previously blockaded all Yemeni ports of entry in response to an al Houthi missile attack on Riyadh on November 4 but later eased the blockade due to international pressure. The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes in Shabwah, Sa’ada, Hajjah, al Jawf, and Sana’a governorates on December 19 and 20. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi defended the December 19 al Houthi missile attack as reprisal for the Saudi-led coalition blockade of al Hudaydah port and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in northern Yemen.
A reported U.S. drone strike killed two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Kawlah area, , Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on December 19. A reported U.S. airstrike also targeted suspected AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 15.
AQAP militants targeted Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces with 120mm mortar and machine gun fire at al Musayniah junction, west of , Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen on December 19. Emirati-backed forces are attempting to clear AQAP’s strongholds in southern Yemen.
AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi forces near the Security Department building of , central Yemen on December 20. AQAP militants also detonated an IED targeting al Houthi forces in Azzah area, al Bayda district on December 16. AQAP frames its attacks on al Houthi forces as in protection of Yemen’s Sunni population.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a joint U.S.-Puntland convoy patrolling the Galgala-Boosaaso highway in , northern Somalia, according to an al Shabaab social media account. U.S. Africa Command has not confirmed the attack. Al Shabaab has attacked Puntland security forces seven times in December.
Both al Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) claimed to raid a Somali National Army (SNA) checkpoint in Afgoi, region, southern Somalia on December 19. Al Shabaab claimed that attack first. Al Shabaab conducts frequent attacks in Afgoi and the surrounding regions. ISIS is based in northern Somalia but has claimed isolated attacks in southern Somalia, including the November 29 killing of a SNA soldier in Afgoi that al Shabaab also claimed.
Al Shabaab militants beheaded three local elders in Abal village, , southern Somalia on December 20. Locals stated that the beheadings were retaliation against elders who supported defected al Shabaab deputy leader Muktar Robow. A militia lead by Robow, who defected from al Shabaab to the Somali Federal Government in August 2017, clashed with al Shabaab militants in Abal on December 15. Al Shabaab controls Abal village and administers hudud punishments there.
 “Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Iran,” United States Mission to the United Nations, December 19, 2017, https://usun.state.gov/remarks/8227.
 “Coalition leadership announces the continued opening of al Hudaydah port for humanitarian and relief supplies, and allowing the entry of commercial vessels including fuel vessels and foodstuffs for thirty days,” Saudi Press Agency, December 20, 2017, http://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=ar&newsid=1700346#1700346; “19 December 2017, Update of the aggression during the past 24 hours,” Al Masirah, December 19, 2017, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=17061&cat_id=3; “Residents; intensive raids by the Arab Alliance on several sites in the capital of Sana’a,” Al Masdar, December 20, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/96172; and “The leader of the revolution announces a new deterrent equation in the face of aggression: ‘the extent of the missiles in expanding and continuing’,” Al Masirah, December 19, 2017, https://www.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=17050&cat_id=3.
 “Two al Qaeda members killed in US raid in Yemen,” Mareb Press, December 20, 2017, http://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=132916; and Demolinari, Twitter, December 20, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/943474606345658370.
 AQAP targets Shabwani Elite Forces in Shabwah, Telegram, December 20, 2017; and Demolinari, Twitter, December 20, 2017, https://twitter.com/demolinari/status/943448494538240000.
 AQAP targets al Houthi forces in al Bayda city, Telegram, December 20, 2017; and AQAP targets al Houthi forces in al Bayda district, Telegram, December 20, 2017.
 Al Shabaab targets Puntland security forces in Bari region, Telegram, December 20, 2017; and “Shabaab claims bombing U.S.-somali patrol In Puntland, Attacking SNA Barracks in Afgoye,” SITE, December 20, 2017, available by subscription at ent.siteintelgroup.com.
 Moha Bulbul, Twitter, December 20, 2017, https://twitter.com/MohaBulbul/status/943385047884861440; and “Shabaab claims bombing U.S.-somali patrol In Puntland, Attacking SNA Barracks in Afgoye,” SITE, December 20, 2017, available by subscription at ent.siteintelgroup.com.
 “Alshabab Beheads Three People In Somali’s Bakol Region,” Radio Dalsan, December 20, 2017, http://radiodalsan.com/en/alshabab-beheads-three-people-somalis-bakol-region/.