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: U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctions two Yemeni citizens and a charity for financially supporting AQAP; U.S. Department of State calls on Yemeni government to accept UN roadmap; Hadi military official announces offensive to liberate Ma’rib governorate; Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh forces continue clashes near Taiz

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Southwest State security forces in Goof Gaduud, Bay region; al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting AMISOM forces in Bulo Mareer, Lower Shabelle region; unidentified warplanes target al Shabaab positions near Kumbarera village, Middle Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on two Yemeni citizens and a Yemeni-based charity for financially supporting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on December 7. Al Hasan Ali Ali Abkar is an AQAP commander for Ma’rib and al Jawf governorates who has been affiliated with the AQAP since 2015. Abdallah Faysal Sadiq al Ahdal is a senior tribal leader in Hadramawt governorate who participated in an AQAP cell in Ash Shahir, Hadramawt and has supported AQAP since 2009. Al Ahdal was also the president of the Rahmah Charitable Organization, which is located in Ash Shahir and has acted as a front to finance AQAP.[1]
  • The U.S. Department of State called on President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to accept the UN roadmap for Yemen’s peace process in its current state. President Hadi wrote a letter to the UN Security Council rejecting the plan on December 6. State Department spokesman Mark Toner stressed that the UN roadmap is a necessary base for direct negotiations that will produce a comprehensive peace agreement and end the war. The UN plan calls for President Hadi to delegate his executive power to a new consensus vice president and for the disarmament of forces. The details of the plan remain unresolved. President Hadi attempted to add conditions to the proposed road map in his letter to the Security Council, including a 10-year self-imposed exile for al Houthi-Saleh leadership.[2]
  • The commander of the Third Military Region for the Hadi government, Major General Adel Qumairi, called on troops to prepare for a decisive battle to liberate Ma’rib governorate on December 8. Hadi government and Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces took control of al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Shabwah governorate in an effort to sever al Houthi-Saleh supply lines running from Shabwah to Ma’rib. Hadi government forces also claimed to dismantle landmines in Bayhan city, Shabwah governorate. Hadi government and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Usaylan and Bayhan, northern Shabwah governorate on December 8. Coalition air strikes also targeted al Houthi-Saleh military positions in al Sawadiyah area, central Bayda governorate in what may be an effort to prevent the reinforcement of Ma’rib from the south.[3]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi government and popular resistance forces in Taiz governorate. Al Houthi forces shelled a residential neighborhood in Thabat district, west of Taiz city. Hadi government forces repulsed an al Houthi-Saleh attack in Maqbanah district, northwest of Taiz city, on December 8. Hadi government forces also claimed to kill a senior al Houthi commander during clashes in southwestern Taiz. These clashes prevented aid convoys from reaching Taiz city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked Southwest State security forces in Goof Gaduud town in Bay region on December 8. The militants claimed to kill four security personnel in the attack. The Southwest State forces eventually drove the militants from Goof Gaduud. Al Shabaab and security forces frequently trade control of Goof Gaduud. Al Shabaab forces most recently drove SNA forces from the town on November 23. [5]
  • Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Bulo Mareer in Lower Shabelle region on December 8. Al Shabaab claimed that the blast killed four AMISOM soldiers. Al Shabaab detonated an IED that wounded five SNA soldiers in Bulo Mareer on August 25.[6]
  • Unidentified warplanes struck an al Shabaab training camp near Kumbarera village in Middle Jubba region on December 7. No casualties were reported. U.S. aircraft have conducted airstrikes in Middle Jubba region throughout 2016. Unidentified aircraft struck an al Shabaab training camp near Tororo in Lower Shabelle region on December 6. Western special forces raided the camp following the airstrike.[7]
[1] U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Treasury Designates Key Facilitators and Front Company Providing Support to Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula,” December 7, 2016,; and Timothy Ahmann, “U.S. sanctions two Yemenis, charity tied to al Qaeda in Yemen,” Reuters, December 7, 2016,
[2] Yeganeh Torbati, “U.S. urges Yemen to accept U.N.-drafted roadmap for peace talks,” Reuters, December 7, 2016,; and “Washington calls on the Yemeni government to accept roadmap prepared by the United Nations,” al Masdar, December 8, 2016,
[3] “Third Military Region Commander calls for Ma’rib military units to prepare for a decisive battle,” Barakish, December 8, 2016,; “Yemen’s army regains control of areas in Shabwah,” Al Arabiya, December 8, 2016,; “Witnesses: Coalition warplanes bombed a camp controlled by houthis in Baida province,” Al Masdar, December 8, 2016,; and “Army regains new sites to cut off supplies between militias in Shabwah and Ma’rib,” Aden Times, December 8, 2016,
[4] “Al Houthis shell residential neighborhoods in Taiz and leave a number dead and wounded after renewed fighting in Maqbanah governorate,” Al Masdar, December 8, 2016,; and “Houthi leader killed in battle with national army in Taiz,” Barakish, December 7, 2016,
[5] “Somalia: Al Shabaab raids Gofgadud district, 4 killed,” Shabelle News, December 8, 2016,
[6] “AMISOM convoy targeted in deadly blast in Somalia,” Shabelle News, December 8, 2016,
[7] “Warplanes invade village near Al-Shabab stronghold,” Shabelle News, December 8, 2016,  
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