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: ISIS shares photos of training camp in al Bayda governorate; AQAP releases latest issue of al Masra newspaper; Hadhrami Elite Forces raid AQAP stronghold in Ash Shahir area, Hadramawt governorate; China’s Foreign Minister criticizes al Houthi-Saleh faction’s new government; Hadi government and popular resistance forces seize border crossing in northeastern Sa’ada governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell Jazan region, Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target boats in the Red Sea near Mokha city; al Houthi-Saleh forces retreat from Midi city, Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Puntland Security Forces close in on ISIS-linked forces in Qandala, Bari region; al Shabaab militants occupy village in Galmudug state; AMISOM forces claim to kill seven al Shabaab fighters in Barire, Lower Shabelle region; Ras Kamboni Movement forces apprehend civilians in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda disseminated images of approximately nine militants training in a camp named after deceased senior ISIS leader Abu Mohammad al Adnani on December 4. The militants are equipped with matching uniforms and arms. Captions underneath the images state that they are training to conduct small arms operations combined with suicide attacks.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the 32nd issue of its al Masra newspaper on December 2. The newspaper featured several articles relating to the United States, including a study on weakness in the U.S. military and a criticism of ISIS for claiming affiliation with Ohio State attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan. The newspaper also criticized social media censorship in the UAE, which trains and funds counterterrorism forces in southern Yemen. The newspaper promoted AQAP’s operations against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb governorate, central Yemen, and provided updates on various al Qaeda affiliates.[2]
  • Hadhrami Elite Forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) stronghold following clashes in coastal Ash Shahir area, Hadramawt governorate on December 5. Security forces claimed to seize approximately four tons of explosives and weapons. Security forces arrested AQAP militants in Ghayl Bawazir district, less than 30 km west of Ash Shahir area, on November 23.[3]
  • China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated on December 2 that China does not approve of “unilateral moves by any side in Yemen,” in reference to the al Houthi-Saleh alliance’s efforts to form an independent government based in Sana’a. Shuang stated that China will continue to support the internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. An al Houthi-Saleh delegation met with the Chinese general director of West Asian and North African affairs in Beijing last week.[4]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces seized Baqim district, northeastern Sa’ada governorate on December 4. The Saudi-led coalition provided air support. Baqim district is one of two border crossings between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in Sa’ada. Hadi government and allied forces also control al Buqa, the second border crossing in Sa’ada. The governorate’s two largest roadways, which lead to the regional capital, pass through Baqim and al Buqa. The Saudi-led coalition also struck al Houthi-Saleh weapon caches in Sahar, central Sa’ada on December 4. Hadi government forces backed by coalition air support began an offensive to seize Sa’ada governorate, a historic stronghold for the al Houthi movement, in mid-October.[5]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled several positions in Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia on December 4, claiming to target the Saudi military. A Saudi Civil Defense spokesman stated that projectiles from al Houthi-Saleh controlled territory injured Saudi and Yemeni civilians in al Tuwal village, southern Jazan on December 4.[6]
  • Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck at least one boat in the Red Sea near Mokha city, Taiz governorate on December 4. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed that the coalition struck a Pakistani boat, killing approximately seven Pakistani nationals. President of the al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi condemned the strike. Hadi government military sources claimed that the coalition targeted seven boats smuggling weapons to the al Houthi-Saleh faction.[7]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces retreated from the contested battlefront of Midi city, Hajjah governorate following clashes on December 5, according to Hadi government sources. President of the al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi visited Midi city on November 20 to mobilize tribal forces for battles in Haradh and Midi areas.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A coalition of Puntland Security Forces (PSF) and local militias are advancing on Qandala town in the Bari region of northern Somalia. ISIS-linked forces led by former al Shabaab shari’a official Abdiqadir Mumin captured Qandala on October 26. The PSF and militia forces departed Boosaso for Qandala on November 29. PSF and militia forces killed seven of Mumin’s fighters in Bashaashin village, located on the outskirts of Qandala, on December 3. Warships have fired missiles targeting Mumin’s forces in Qandala.[9]
  • Al Shabaab militants occupied Qaaib village in Galmudug State on December 5. Somali National Army (SNA) forces reportedly fled the town on the evening of December 4, fearing an al Shabaab assault.[10]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces claimed to kill seven al Shabaab militants in Barire in Lower Shabelle region on December 3. Al Shabaab forces also claimed to recover an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Barire on December 2.[11]
  • Forces loyal to the Ras Kamboni Movement arrested civilians in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region following the killing of two Ras Kamboni militiamen. The Ras Kamboni Movement, which is loyal to Jubbaland State President Ahmed Madobe, has clashed with Shabaab militants in the past. The Ras Kamboni Movement splintered from the larger Ras Kamboni Brigades, which fought alongside al Shabaab and other Islamists against Ethiopia and the Somali Transitional Federal Government between 2006 and 2009.[12]
[1] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda shares images of training camp on ISIS-affiliated blog, Dawaal Haq, December 4, 2016.
[2] “New issue of An??r al-Shar?’ah in the Arabian Peninsula’s newspaper: “al-Masr? #32,” December 2, 2016,
[3] “Hadramawt Elite forces seized four tons of explosives and arrested wanted men,” Aden Times, December 5, 2016,
[4] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Remarks on Yemen's Houthi Group and General People's Congress Party Declaring Formation of "National Salvation Government," December 2, 2016,
[5] “Yemeni army frees border port from the grip of the putschists and progresses in Saada,” Aden Tomorrow, December 5, 2016,; and “Intense flights of coalition aircraft in Sa’ada and targeting the largest store weapons in Sahar,” Aden Tomorrow,
[6] “Army artillery pounded a number of locations in Jazan,” al Masirah, December 4, 2016,; and Miriam Goldman Eps, Twitter, December 4, 2016,
[7] “The martyrdom of seven Pakistani nationals in an airstrike on a boat off the coast of Mokha,” al Masirah, December 5, 2016,; “Chairman of the Supreme Political Council condemns targeting Pakistani boat off the coast of Mokha,” al Masirah, December 5, 2016,; and “Coalition aircraft destroyed boats smuggling weapons for the Houthis in the Red Sea,” Aden Tomorrow, December 5, 2016,
[8] “Houthi withdrawal from the 90 perimeter of Midi, Hajjah governorate after clashes against government forces,” al Masdar, December, 5, 2016,
[9] “Somalia kills 7 in clash with group linked to Daesh,” Goobjoog News, December 4, 2016,; “Puntland army launch anti-ISIL offensive in Qandala,” Shabelle News, December 3, 2016,; “Puntland forces retake Qandala from ISIL militants,” Shabelle News, December 4, 2016,; “Somalia: 7 ISIS militants killed in Qandala battle,” Shabelle News, December 4, 2016,; “We are yet to recapture Qandala-Puntland military official,” Goobjoog News, December 5, 2016,  
[10] “Al-Shabaab takes control of village in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, December 5, 2016,
[11] “AMISOM claims killing 7 Al shabaab militants in battle,” Shabelle News, December 5, 2016,; and “Surveillance drone crashes in Lower Shabelle region,” Shabelle News, December 3, 2016,
[12] “Militia loyal to Jubbaland leader harass Kismayo residents,” Shabelle News, December 5, 2016,  
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