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 encourages supporters to conduct lone-wolf attacks in America, France, and Russia; Hadi government forces renew offensive in western Ma’rib governorate; al Houthi-Saleh reinforcements arrive in northwestern Shabwah governorate; cholera cases in Yemen rise; Saudi-led coalition warplanes strike al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and Taiz governorates

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Afgoi town, southwest of Mogadishu; Burundi threatens to withdraw unpaid AMISOM troops beginning in January; Somali authorities seize medical supplies destined for al Shabaab-held territory in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • An al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-affiliated Telegram channel disseminate several pieces of  propaganda on December 30 promoting lone-wolf attacks in the United States, France, and Russia on New Year’s Eve. The Telegram channel also provided a list of trending Twitter hashtags to use to spread the propaganda. The propaganda was published in English, Russian, and Arabic.[1]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi renewed an offensive to seize the last three al Houthi-Saleh-held areas in Ma’rib governorate on December 29. A Hadi government spokesman stated that the Hadi government needs to seize al Makhadra, Helan, and central Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate. Hadi government forces plan to attack neighboring Khawlan district, Sana’a governorate after western Ma’rib is secure. The main road from Ma’rib into Sana’a crosses through Khawlan district. The Khawlan tribe has sworn allegiance to the al Houthi-Saleh alliance.[2]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh reinforcements arrived in Usaylan and Bayhan districts, northwestern Shabwah governorate, on December 30. Hadi government and popular resistance forces seized new territory in Usaylan and Bayhan districts on December 27. Al Houthi-Saleh forces have been attempting to repel Hadi government forces from these districts since the attack. Major roadways to neighboring Ma’rib and al Bayda governorates cross through Usaylan and Bayhan districts.[3]
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on December 29 that the number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has risen to 12,733. Just under 100 Yemenis have died due to cholera since the outbreak. The majority of cholera cases are in Aden, Ibb, Taiz, and al Hudaydah governorates. Nearly every governorate in western Yemen has been affected. The WHO is supporting treatment centers in al Hudaydah, Raymah, Ibb, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates. 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 percent of Yemen’s medical facilities.[4]
  • Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Sabra district, southern Ibb governorate on December 29. Coalition warplanes struck the al Houthi-Saleh 30th brigade in camp Hamsa. Saudi-led coalition warplanes also struck several al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Taiz, along the coast of the Bab al Mandeb strait. Coalition airstrikes hit al Houthi-Saleh held Camp Khaled in Maqza district, Mokha port city, and Dhubab district, western Taiz governorate.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked the town of Afgoi, southwest of Mogadishu, in Lower Shabelle region the evening of December 29. Afgoi residents reported that about 100 al Shabaab militants entered the town, ordering residents to take cover and then attacking a security checkpoint. At least six people were killed, including two militants, and seven others injured in the attack. A senior Somali National Army commander, Ahmed Dokoti, was among those killed. Somali police and intelligence officers conducted search operations after the attack.[6]
  • The Burundian government announced that it would withdraw its troops operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate from Somalia beginning in January if it does not receive months of unpaid wages for the soldiers. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said that Burundi’s AMISOM contingent has not received payment for 10 months. The European Union (EU) froze payments to the troops through the African Union as part of the EU sanctions against Burundi.[7]
  • Somali federal government troops and Ethiopian AMISOM forces seized medical supplies in Luq town in Gedo region near the Ethiopian border. The medical supplies in a World Vision-chartered truck were destined for al Shabaab-held areas in Bay region, according to Gedo region deputy governor Osman Nuuh Hajji.[8]


[1] AQAP-affiliated channel shares propaganda calling for lone-wolf attacks in America, Russia, and France on New Year’s Eve, Telegram, December 29, 2016.
[2] “Legitimacy »to start clearing Marib .. and rebellion faces« recruitment crisis »,” Aden Tomorrow, December 29, 2016,
[3] “Witnesses: massive reinforcements for the Houthis and Saleh forces up to Bayhan,” Aden Tomorrow, December 30, 2016,
[5] “Alliance raids on the camp ‘Hamsa’ southeast of city of Ibb,” al Masdar, December 30, 2016,; and “Coalition intensifies its air operations west of Taiz and limits the smuggling of weapons to the Houthis,” al Masdar, December 29, 2016,
[6] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Six Killed in Attack on Somalia Town,” VOA, December 30, 2016,; “Top SNA Officer Among Five Killed in Afgoye Attack,” Shabelle News, December 29, 2016,; and “Troops Launch Sweep in Afgoye after al-Shabab Raid,” Shabelle News, December 30, 2016,
[7] Desire Nimubona, “Burundi Threatens to Withdraw Somalia Troops over Non-Payment,” Bloomberg, December 30, 2016,
[8] “Al Shabaab-bound Medical Supply Seized in Somalia,” Shabelle News, December 30, 2016,
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