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: UN-led peace talks conclude in Geneva; anti-al Houthi forces advance north of Sana’a city; coalition-backed forces clash with al Houthis near Haradh city, Hajjah; al Houthis unsuccessfully target Jazan airport in missile attack; AQAP holds preaching event in Abyan and claims credit for attacks in al Bayda and Shabwah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab wounds Galgadud governor in Mogadishu, Banadir region; al Shabaab militants attack passenger in Mandera County, Kenya; Somali pirates hijack two Iranian fishing vessels off the Somali coast; al Shabaab claims VBIED attack targeting government official in Mogadishu, Banadir region; SNA forces attack al Shabaab stronghold in Awdhegle, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Geneva peace talks between delegations representing Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the al Houthi movement, and the General People’s Congress ended on December 20, with plans for continued talks in January. The talks began inauspiciously, with both sides breaking the accompanying ceasefire almost immediately. UN representatives said that a dispute over a prisoner exchange proved to be the major stumbling block.[1]
  • Anti-al Houthi army units and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi forces in the Furdat Nihm area of Sana’a governorate in central Yemen, nearly 70 km north of Sana’a city, on December 21.This advancement follows a two-week offensive by coalition-backed forces in al Jawf governorate to the northeast of Sana’a. Coalition forces are now planning to launch a second phase and push towards Harf Sufian region in Amran governorate to the northwest of the capital. This offensive, if successful, positions coalition forces and their allies to either move southward toward al Houthi-held Sanaa or northward toward Sa’ada governorate, the al Houthis’ traditional military and political hub.[2]
  • Coalition-backed forces clashed with al Houthi forces near Haradh city in Hajjah governorate, near the Saudi-Yemeni border, on December 19 and 20. Sources claim that coalition forces pushed toward the al Houthi-controlled Midi port near the Saudi border, resulting in fighting that killed scores of al Houthis. Coalition warplanes launched airstrikes on both Haradh and Midi last week.[3]
  • Al Houthi forces in northern Yemen fired a missile toward Jazan airport in southern Saudi Arabia on December 21. Saudi officials stated that the Saudi Air Force intercepted the missile and proceeded to destroy the missile’s launch site.[4]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) held a public preaching event in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on December 19 and 20. The group took credit for four recent attacks on al Houthis in al Bayda and Shabwah governorates in central Yemen.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate the governor of Galgadud region on December 19 in Mogadishu, Banadir region. Gunmen in a minibus blocked the governor’s vehicle and opened fire, injuring him. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[6] 
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a passenger bus on December 20 near El Wak in Kenya’s Mandera County. The militants stopped the bus and reportedly tried to separate the passengers into groups based on religion. The passengers resisted, leading to a clash that killed two and injured three. The militants fled the scene before Kenyan security forces arrived. An al Shabaab spokesperson said the group was responsible for the attack and that those killed were Christians.[7]
  • Somali pirates hijacked two Iranian fishing vessels on December 19 in an unspecified location off the Somali coast. The vessels were reportedly fishing illegally in Somali waters when the pirates attacked, killing two fishermen and wounding others. An Iranian official confirmed the hijackings and stated that Iranian security forces are working to free the captives.[8]
  • Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) that killed three people and injured seven near a government building in Mogadishu, Banadir region on December 19. The attack reportedly targeted a senior government official, who was unharmed.[9]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) forces attacked an al Shabaab stronghold on December 21 in Awdhegle, Lower Shabelle region. The two sides exchanged mortar and gunfire before SNA forces drove the militants from the town. A SNA spokesperson said that government forces killed five militants and suffered two casualties.[10]

[1] “Yemen peace talks end with no end to conflict,” New York Times, December 20, 2015. Available:
[2] “Violent battles in Furdat Nihm in Sana’a,” Barakish, December 21, 2015. Available:
“Spokesman for resistance in al Jawaf: start of the second phase of liberation of the al Houthi- Saleh governorate,” Al Masdar Online, December 21, 2015. Available:
[3] “Yemen: Scores of Houthi rebels and government troops killed in fresh fighting near Saudi border,” International Business Times, December 20, 2015. Available:
[4] “Saudi air defense intercepts rocket fired from Yemen,” Associated Press, December 21, 2015. Available:
[5] “AQAP holds preaching event in Abyan, claims attacks in al Bayda’, Shabwah,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 20, 2015. Source available upon request.
[6] “Galgadud governor wounded in Mogadishu drive-by-shooting,” Shabelle News, December 19, 2015. Available:
[7] Edith Honan, “Somali militants kill two in bus attack in northern Kenya,” Reuters, December 21, 2015. Available:
“Two dead, three injured in Al-shabaab attack on passenger bus in Mandera,” Wacaal Media, December 21, 2015. Available:
[8] “Two Iranian fishermen killed off coast of Somalia,” Goobjoog News, December 20, 2015. Available:
“Iranian fishermen attacked by Somali pirates,” Shabelle News, December 20, 2015. Available:
[9] “Three dead after huge explosion and gunfire in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, December 19, 2015. Available:
“Huge blast, gunfire heard in centre of Somali capital,” Wacaal Media, December
Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Car bomb kills three in Somali capital, al Shabaab say behind blast,” Reuters, December 19, 2015. Available:
[10] “Seven killed in SNA-al Shabaab fighting in Awdhegle,” Goobjoog News, December 21, 2015. Available:
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