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: Militants kill five pro-Hadi security officers in Aden; pro-Hadi and popular resistance forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces 20 kilometers northeast of Sana’a; Saudi Arabia warns UN and international aid agencies to avoid al Houthi-Saleh territory

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and SNA forces announce launch of anti-al Shabaab offensive in Middle Shabelle region as suspected al Shabaab militants attack SNA base in Jowhar; Kenyan authorities uncover al Shabaab recruitment network in Mombasa, Kenya; SFG extends invitation to negotiate to ASWJ

Yemen Security Brief

  • Militants killed five security officers loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi at a police station in Aden’s al Basatin district on February 12. The assault followed other recent attacks on the station, according to security officials, as well as an attack on a military patrol in Aden’s Inma city on February 11. Clashes between militants and pro-Hadi forces in Aden have increased during the past week. Pro-Hadi military and security forces, backed by coalition air support, clashed with gunmen in al Mansoura district on February 9 and 10. Some sources attributed the police station attack and recent clashes to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while others have attributed the attacks to Southern secessionist militias.[1]
  • Pro-Hadi army units and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces near the Bin Ghaylan pass in Nihm district, 20 kilometers northeast of the capital Sana’a, on February 12. Pro-Hadi forces claimed to capture a nearby al Houthi weapons store, while al Houthi sources claimed to have repelled the attack. Pro-Hadi forces took control of a base at Furdat Nihm to the northeast on February 11. Both points provide control over the main road from Sana’a toward Yemen’s northern and eastern governorates and have been the focus of intense fighting over the past two weeks.[2]
  • Saudi Arabia urged the United Nations and international aid groups to move staff out of areas held by al Houthi-Saleh in Yemen in a letter dated February 5. The letter expressed concern for the safety of the staff amid the Saudi-led coalition’s ongoing campaign of airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh military targets. UN officials reportedly affirmed their commitment to providing aid and reiterated the coalition’s obligations to avoid targeting civilians under international humanitarian law. The Saudi-led coalition recently acknowledged instances of civilian casualties and promised an independent investigation into other allegations, in a response to international criticism of its ongoing air campaign.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Deputy Governor of Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, Abdullah Yusuf Alof, announced on February 12 that Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops are preparing for a major offensive that will target pockets of al Shabaab fighters in the Middle Shabelle region.   Shaping operations for this offensive began February 11, when SNA and AMISOM forces seized strategic Biya Adde village, which is located a major regional road. Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a SNA military base near Baryar in Jowhar town, Middle Shabelle region on January 12, possibly in response to the impending operation.  The attack injured two SNA soldiers.[4] 
  • Kenyan authorities announced the disruption of an al Shabaab recruitment cell in Mombasa, Kenya, whose members were arrested earlier this year for attempting to radicalize young madrasa students and lure them to Somalia.  Kenyan authorities also suspect that the recruitment cell has ties to Ramadhan Kufungwa, a well-known al Shabaab recruiter who is currently a fugitive in Somalia.[5]
  • The Somali Federal Government (SFG) extended an invitation for the leadership of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a (ASWJ), a moderate Islamist paramilitary organization, to engage in talks with the Interim Galmudug State Administration to better integrate ASWJ’s former and current members into the new state.  The Somali Interior Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein called for ASWJ to reconcile with the federal administration of the Galgaduud and Mudug regions through peaceful means, not violence.  ASWJ contests the SFG’s governance, citing corruption and ineffectiveness.[6] 
[1] “Suspected Qaeda attackers kill five police in Yemen’s Aden,” Agence France Presse, February 12, 2016,
“Five soldiers killed in attack on al Basatin police station in Aden,” Barakish, February 12, 2016,
“Yemen: Violent clashes just 20 kilometers from the capital Sana’a,” BBC, February 12, 2016,
[2] “Yemen: Violent clashes just 20 kilometers from the capital Sana’a,” BBC, February 12, 2016,
[3] Michelle Nichols, “Saudi warns U.N., aid workers to leave rebel-held areas in Yemen,” Reuters, February 11, 2016,
[4] “Middle Shabelle authorities vow to weed out Al Shabaab in the region,” Shabelle News, February 12, 2016,   
“Somali National Army (SNA) And AU Troops Battle Out Al-Shabaab Militants In Biya-Adde,” Strategic Intelligence Service Briefs, February 12, 2016,    
Maalik Som, “Two Govt Soldiers injured in Jowhar Grenade blast,” Shabelle News, February 12, 2016,   
[5] Dominic Wabala, “Al Shabaab recruits in children's home,” Kenyan Daily Star, February 12, 2016,   
[6]“Somalia invites moderate Islamists to ‘negotiating table,” Garowe News Online, February 9, 2016,   
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