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: Hadi government-aligned forces and STC-aligned forces clash in Abyan; STC-aligned forces capture AQAP militants in Abyan; al Houthi movement claims to down two Saudi drones

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IED killing district commissioner in Lower Shabelle region; UN renews anti-piracy measures in Somalia; SNA soldier kills colleague in Galgudud region

Yemen Security Brief

Security forces aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government clashed with southern separatist forces in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on December 5. The clashes began when forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) attempted to prevent Hadi government-aligned forces from entering Zinjibar, Abyan’s capital. The clashes killed a commander in an STC-aligned security force. This is the first reported clash of STC and Hadi government-aligned forces since the two sides signed a power-sharing agreement in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in early November.[1]

STC-aligned forces captured five al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Jaar town in Abyan on December 5. The militants were driving a car filled with weapons and ammunition at the time of their arrest.[2]

The al Houthi movement claimed to shoot down two Saudi spy drones near the Saudi border in northern Yemen on December 4. Saudi Arabia has not commented on the claims. The al Houthis previously claimed to shoot down a Saudi helicopter and a drone near the border in separate instances in late November.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a regional government official near Awdheegle town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on December 4. The IED killed Awdheegle’s district commissioner and injured three of his bodyguards.[4]

The UN renewed authorization for anti-piracy measures in Somalia on December 4. The Somali Federal Government (SFG) requested the renewal of the measures on November 22. The measures, which are renewed until December 2020, allow the SFG’s regional and international partners to enter Somali territorial waters to pursue and disrupt pirates.[5]

A Somali National Army (SNA) soldier killed one of his colleagues over a dispute in Dhusamareb town in Galgudud region in north-central Somalia on December 4. Security forces apprehended the assailant.[6]

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[1] “Clashes erupt in southern Yemen after deal with separatists,” AP, December 5, 2019,

[2] “5 al-Qaida members captured in S. Yemen,” Xinhua, December 5, 2019,

[3] “Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim downing of 2 spy drones near the Saudi border,” Xinhua, December 5, 2019,; Herrera, Hennessey, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 2, 2019,” Critical Threats, December 2, 2019,

[4] Mbataru, Samuel, “Police Bravely Thwart Al Shabaab Ambush,” Kenyans, December 4, 2019,

[5] “Renewing Authorization for International Naval Forces Fighting Piracy off Coast of Somalia, Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2500,” United Nations, December 4, 2019,

[6] “Soldier kills colleague in Dhusamaareb,” Goobjoog, December 4, 2019,

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