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 expresses willingness to participate in ceasefire negotiations; AQAP repels al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda governorate; reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; Hadi government and popular resistance forces attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern al Dhaleh governorate; Saudi-led coalition warplanes bomb al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Yemen
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants clash with Jubbaland security forces and local militias near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab gunmen kill Puntland Presidential Palace director in Boosaso, Bari region
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi stated on December 21 that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is willing to participate in UN-proposed ceasefire negotiations in Jordan. 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 included a call for belligerents in the Yemeni civil war to participate in ceasefire negotiations in Amman, Jordan in early January. Mikhlafi stated on December 20 that the Hadi 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.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to repel an al Houthi-Saleh attack in al Jawf area, Ra’ada district, western al Bayda governorate on December 21. AQAP’s Telegram post claimed its forces killed five al Houthi-Saleh troops while repelling the attack. Local news sources reported that popular resistance forces repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack in the same area. AQAP aligns itself with Sunni tribal militias in central Yemen against al Houthi-Saleh forces, which are perceived as invading Shi’a by the local Sunni population. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to repel an attack from Hadi government-allied forces in Dhi Na’im district, southern al Bayda governorate on December 21.
- A reported U.S. airstrike targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in a vehicle in Azzan city, Shabwah governorate on December 21. A reported U.S. airstrike killed four AQAP militants in a convoy in Ma’rib governorate on December 14. 
- Hadi-allied popular resistance forces attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Jibn district, northeastern al Dhaleh governorate on December 21. The attack killed four al Houthi-Saleh troops and wounded eight others. Al Houthi-Saleh forces killed more than five Hadi government-allied fighters in Jibn and Tabat area, al Dhaleh, according to an al Houthi news outlet. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Hadi government and popular resistance forces in Maris district, northern al Dhaleh governorate on December 19.
- Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Yemen on December 21. Coalition airstrikes hit Camp Kahlan near Sa’ada city, and positions in Baqim, northern Sa’ada governorate, in support of Hadi government operations in the area. Coalition airstrikes killed 13 al Houthi-Saleh troops on Kamaran Island off the northern coast of al Hudaydah governorate on December 21. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also hit al Houthi-Saleh positions in Nihm, Sana’a governorate less than 100 km northeast of Sana’a on December 21.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants clashed with Jubbaland security forces and local militias west of Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on December 20. The fighting, which killed at least 10 individuals, broke out after al Shabaab forces seized camels as part of its zakat, or religious tax policies. A senior al Shabaab leader responsible for zakat collection in the Jubbaland region also surrendered to authorities on December 20. Somalis’ resistance to zakat policies has increased as drought conditions become dire.
- Al Shabaab gunmen killed the director of Puntland’s Presidential Palace in Boosaso in Bari region on December 20. Two gunmen shot Aden Gaas Haruse outside a hotel before fleeing the scene. Al Andalus Radio, a pro-Shabaab station, credited the killing to al Shabaab. Puntland Security Forces (PSF) launched a massive operation in an attempt to locate the killers. An al Shabaab gunman fatally wounded Puntland Deputy Police Commander Jama Sahardid in Boosaso on December 15.