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: AQAP releases eulogy for AQIM leader; Kuwait to send ground forces to Saudi-Yemeni border; al Houthi-Saleh and coalition-backed forces fight for control in northern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh and coalition-backed forces continue to clash in central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh leaders meet with Russian ambassador; AQAP claims attacks on al Houthis in al Bayda and Ibb governorates
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks SNA and AMISOM-manned military base in Taraako, Gedo region; senior al Shabaab member surrenders to SNA forces in Dinsor, Bay region; unidentified gunmen attempt to assassinate journalist union official in Mogadishu, Banadir region
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released an audio message from AQAP official and former Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi on December 28. Al Qosi eulogized al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Shariah Committee leader Abu al Hassan Rashid al Bulaydi, who was killed by the Algerian Army earlier this week. Al Qosi also praised several AQIM affiliates for recent operations against French and allied forces in the Maghreb and Sahel regions. He emphasized the need to unite jihad and drive Western influence out of Muslim countries, singling out the U.S. as the primary target and echoing a recent video featuring AQAP leader Qasim al Raymi.
- Kuwait will send ground troops and heavy artillery to southern Saudi Arabia next week, according to Kuwait’s al Qabas newspaper. The Kuwaiti troops will reportedly help Saudi forces repel al Houthi-Saleh cross-border attacks. Kuwaiti participation in the Saudi-led coalition was previously limited to air forces.
- Al Houthi-Saleh and coalition-backed forces continue to contest territory in northern Yemen and along the Saudi-Yemeni border. Pro-al Houthi SABA News Agency claimed that a Qaher-I ballistic missile launched by al Houthi-Saleh forces struck an Aramco site in Jazan province, southern Saudi Arabia on December 29, but Saudi forces reportedly intercepted the missile. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi military sites north and west of the al Houthi-held capital of Sana’a on December 28 and 29, including al Daylami Air Force Base in Sana’a governorate. Coalition-backed forces continued to fight for control of Haradh city in northern Yemen’s Hajjah governorate on December 29, with coalition air and naval support. Saudi Special Forces reportedly conducted two operations on the same day in Sa’ada governorate, the al Houthis’ traditional stronghold, killing two militia commanders. Coalition-backed forces also launched attacks on al Houthi-Saleh positions in neighboring al Jawf governorate on December 29.
- Clashes for control of territory continued in central Yemen. Coalition-backed popular resistance forces attacked al Houthi-Saleh positions in coastal al Hudaydah governorate on December 29. Al Houthi-Saleh and coalition-backed forces traded gun and artillery fire near the Taiz-Lahij border on December 28 in al Wazi’iyah, al Shuraija, and al Rahidah. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also shelled villages in al Misrakh district, Taiz governorate and military positions in Taiz city on December 29, while Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched airstrikes on nearby Sabr. Coalition airstrikes targeting al Houthi reinforcements in the area mistakenly struck anti-al Houthi popular resistance fighters, killing four.
- Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and General People’s Congress (GPC) officials met with Russian Ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Dedushkin at the Russian Embassy in Sana’a on December 28. Al Houthi leaders reportedly met with Dedushkin later that same day. Sources indicate that Saleh, the GPC, and the al Houthis are seeking Russian support for a politically negotiated end to the Yemen conflict.
- AQAP claimed credit for 16 attacks on al Houthi positions in al Bayda and Ibb governorates between December 23 and December 28. The attacks included sniping operations, ground clashes with medium and heavy weapons, and the detonation of improvised explosive devices.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants attacked a military base manned by Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces on December 28 in Taraako, Gedo region. A SNA officer said that the government forces repulsed the attack and killed four militants while sustaining one injury. Local residents said that up to six soldiers were killed in the attack.
- A senior al Shabaab member, Mohamed Ibrahim Dhubow, surrendered to SNA forces on December 28 in Dinsor, Bay region. Dhubow was in charge of al Shabaab’s local zakat tax collections. He was in contact with Interim South West State Administration officials and local SNA commanders, whom he informed of his intention to surrender. Dhubow is currently in local police custody and will soon be transferred to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA). Officials have yet to comment on the reasons for Dhubow’s surrender.
- Unidentified gunmen attempted to kill a journalist union official in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu’s Taleh district, Banadir region. The target, Omar Faruk Osman, is the general secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). The gunmen blocked Osman’s vehicle and opened fire, wounding one of Osman’s bodyguards as well as two pedestrians but failing to harm Osman. The perpetrators remain unknown.