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: Al Houthi movement claims capability to strike Israel; Hadi government and STC fail to meet  deadline for power-sharing agreement; Islamic State claims to kill security official in Aden; Sudanese Prime Minister confirms drawdown of troops in Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab ambushes bus in northeastern Kenya; al Shabaab captures village near Kenyan border; al Shabaab ambushes SNA troops in Lower Shabelle region; clan violence erupts in Mudug region

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi defense minister Mohammed al Atafi claimed on December 8 that the al Houthi movement has identified Israeli military targets and possesses the capabilities to strike them. Al Atafi also accused Israel of participating in the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign against the al Houthi movement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated on October 28 that Iran plans to use multiple Middle Eastern countries, including Yemen, as a base for launching attacks against Israel.[1]

The Hadi government and the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni separatist group, failed to meet a 30-day deadline to implement parts of a recent power-sharing agreement. The Riyadh Agreement, which both parties signed on November 5, stipulated the creation of a new cabinet within 30 days. Each side blames the other for failing to meet the deadline.[2]

Islamic State militants claimed to kill a commander in the UAE-backed al Hizam Security Forces, Captain Mohammed Saleh al Radfani, on December 7 in the al Mansoura neighborhood of Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden. There were at least two other assassination attempts against security officials in Aden by unidentified gunmen on December 6 and 7.[3]

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stated on December 8 that Sudan has drawn down its troop numbers in Yemen from 15,000 to 5,000. This was the first time that Hamdok gave details about the number of Sudanese troops in Yemen. Hamdok stated that Sudan is drawing down its forces because it believes that the Yemen conflict must be solved politically.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a bus carrying civilians and police officers near Kotulo town in Wajir County in northeastern Kenya on December 6. Militants flagged down the bus and executed non-Somalis, including eight Kenyan police officers, two teachers, and a doctor. Security forces arrested the bus driver and a passenger after the incident. Kenyan special forces also deployed to the area in response.[5]

Al Shabaab militants captured Dag-Allamo village near the Kenyan border in Lower Jubba region in southwestern Somalia on December 8. Hundreds of militants reportedly entered the town following the withdrawal of Jubbaland Security Forces. Al Shabaab separately claimed to briefly seize Diiso town in Mandera County in eastern Kenya on December 4.[6]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed Somali National Army (SNA) troops as the troops built flood barriers near Awdheegle town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on December 8. SNA troops repelled the attack.[7]

Clan violence flared up in Towfiiq village in Mudug region in north-central Somalia on December 9. Rival militias from Puntland and Galmudug states used heavy weapons in the clashes, which occurred in eastern Mudug. Clan militias previously clashed in the same area on December 5.[8]

Visit our YemenKenyaSudan, and Somalia storystreams.

[1] “Yemen Houthis Claim to Have List of Viable Israeli Targets,” Bloomberg, December 8, 2019,; “Netanyahu says Iran seeking means to attack Israel from Yemen,” Reuters, October 28, 2019,

[2] “Peace deal for Yemen’s south stumbles as deadline expires,” AFP, December 9, 2019,

[3] “ISIS claims killing of security commander in Yemen,” The National, December 8, 2019,

[4] “Sudan says it has reduced troops in Yemen to 5,000,” Reuters, December 8, 2019,

[5] “Driver, passenger arrested over Wajir's Al-Shabaab attack; Special Forces from KDF have been deployed to the region to pursue Al-Shabaab,” Garowe, December 9, 2019,; and “Shabaab Claims Killing 10 Kenyan Christians in Ambush, Declares Taking Short-Term Control Over Town in Garissa,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 6, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[6] “Al-Shabaab retakes area from Jubaland state forces,” Radio Shabelle, December 8, 2019,; and “Shabaab Claims Killing 10 Kenyan Christians in Ambush, Declares Taking Short-Term Control Over Town in Garissa,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 6, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[7] “Somali military repels Al-Shabaab attack in Lower Shabelle region,” Radio Shabelle, December 8, 2019,

[8] “Clashes between clan militias strife in Mudug,” Goobjoog, December 9, 2019,; Phelan, Kevin, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – December 6, 2019,” Critical Threats Project, December 6, 2019,

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