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: State Department offers reward for information on Yemen-based IRGC member; Hadi government accuses STC-aligned forces of ambushing unit near Aden; Hadi government-aligned forces claim to kill al Houthi commander

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks regional security forces in Hiraan region; clan violence erupts in Mudug region; Ethiopian and US defense officials meet in Washington

Yemen Security Brief

The US Department of State announced on December 5 that it is offering a $15 million reward for information on a high-ranking, Yemen-based Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) member, Abdul Reza Shahlai. Shahlai is believed to facilitate the delivery of advanced weaponry to the al Houthi movement on behalf of Iran. Shahlai is also accused of previously directing attacks against US troops in Iraq.[1]

Members of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claimed that forces aligned with the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni separatist group, opened fire on the First Brigade Presidential Protection Unit as it traveled towards Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, on December 5. The Presidential Protection Unit is deploying to Aden as part of a recent power-sharing agreement between the Hadi government and STC.[2]

Hadi government-aligned forces claimed to kill al Houthi commander Mortada al Sharif on December 5. The Hadi government did not disclose the location of al Sharif’s death nor his position in the al Houthi movement.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants attacked regional security forces in El Adde town near the Ethiopian border in Hiraan region in southern Somalia on December 6. Al Shabaab militants separately stopped a civilian bus north of Bal’ad town in Middle Shabelle region in central Somalia on December 6. Militants removed one person from the bus.[4]

Clan violence erupted in Afbarwaaqo village in Mudug region in north-central Somalia on December 5. Two clan militias clashed over land disputes and revenge killings, causing at least 15 deaths.[5]

Ethiopian and US defense officials met for the ninth annual US-Ethiopia Bilateral Defense Committee meeting in Washington, DC on December 4. The officials discussed regional security, peacekeeping, intelligence, and military relations and highlighted the increase in bilateral security cooperation over the past 18 months.[6]

Visit our Yemen and Somalia storystreams.

[1] “US targets Iranian prisons with sanctions in response to deadly crackdown,” The Hill, December 5, 2019,

[2] “Fierce confrontations between the presidential protection and the transitional militias in Abyan and the death of a separatist leader,” Mareb Press, December 6, 2019,; “Government spokesman holds the transitional council responsible for escalation and attempt to obstruct the Riyadh Agreement,” 7adramout, December 6, 2019,

[3] “Yemeni army kills Houthi militia commander Mortada al-Sharif: Sources,” Al Arabiya, December 5, 2019,

[4] Maruf, Harun, Twitter, December 6, 2019,; and Maruf, Harun, Twitter, December 6, 2019,

[5] “At least 15 people killed in inter-clan fighting in central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, December 5, 2019,

[6] “News: U.S., Ethiopian Defense Officials Meet at Pentagon,” Addis Standard, December 6, 2019,

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