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: AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in eastern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition bombs al Houthi military camp in Sana’a; reported U.S. airstrike kills AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; ISIS militants dismantle IED in al Bayda

Horn of Africa: UN Special Envoy to Somalia calls for Somaliland and Puntland leaders to negotiate peace; al Shabaab IED blast targets officials in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked a camp used by Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces in Badah area, Daw’an district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on January 10. Hadhrami Elite Forces counterattacked and killed four AQAP militants. AQAP published a photoset of the attack on its official social media channel. Hadhrami Elite Forces dismantled an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by AQAP militants at the border of Daw’an and al Dhlia’ah districts on January 9. Suspected AQAP militants also detonated a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) targeting Shabwani Elite Forces in al Said district, Shabwah governorate on January 10 after the Shabwani forces deployed to the area on January 9. The Shabwani and Hadhrami Elite Forces are tasked with security and counterterrorism operations in eastern Yemen, where they are the primary targets of AQAP attacks.[1] 

Saudi-led coalition warplanes dropped 33 cluster bombs on an al Houthi military camp in Dhala’a Hamdan, north of Sana’a city, on January 10. Hadi government forces are attempting to advance toward Sana’a city from Nihm district, northeast of the capital.[2]

A reported U.S. airstrike killed three AQAP militants in al Sawma’ah district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on January 9. The U.S. air campaign against AQAP is tended to degrade the group’s media capabilities, allow counterterrorism partners to regain territory, and impede AQAP’s capacity to attack U.S. territory.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda released a photoset showing the dismantling of an al Houthi improvised explosive device (IED) camouflaged as a rock in northwestern al Bayda, central Yemen on January 9. ISIS militants detonated an IED that killed al Houthi troops in northwestern al Bayda on January 7, the group’s first claimed attack since November 2017.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Somalia Ambassador Michael Keating urged Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with Puntland State President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” on January 10. Ambassador Keating discussed security, youth job creation, and regional tensions between Somaliland and Puntland with President Abdi during a visit to Somaliland’s capital of Hargeisa. Somaliland forces captured Tuko Raq, a town in the disputed Sool region, from Puntland on January 8. Puntland President Ali threatened to retaliate against Somaliland with overwhelming force on January 9.[5] 

Al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate two government officials with IEDs in Mogadishu on January 10. Militants detonated an IED attached to the car of a Mogadishu security official in Taleh area, Hodan district, Mogadishu. The blast injured two civilians outside the vehicle. Al Shabaab militants also detonated an IED targeting the deputy chairman of Mogadishu’s Heliwa district, but he survived the blast.[6]

[1] “After dismantling an explosive device and artillery shells, Hadhrami Elite kill four from al Qaeda in clashes in Daw’an with Shabwani Elite Forces,” Aden Tomorrow, January 10, 2018,; Demolinari, Twitter, January 10, 2018,; Demolinari, Twitter, January 10, 2018,; AQAP attacks Hadhrami Elite Forces in Daw’an, Telegram, January 10, 2018; “Wounded in an explosion targeting Elite Forces in Shabwah,” Barakish, January 10, 2018,
[2] “Airplanes of the Aggression drop 33 cluster bombs in raids targeting Sanaa,” Al Masirah, January 10, 2018,
[3] “Three al Qaeda members killed in an airstrike by a US drone in al Bayda,” al Masdar, January 9, 2018,
[4] Demolinari, Twitter, January 9, 2018,
[5] “UN Special Envoy to Somalia visits Somaliland to diffuse tension with Puntland State,” Goobjoog, January 10, 2018,; and “Puntland President vows to respond with ‘brute force’ against Tukaraq attack,” Radio Shabelle, January 10, 2018,  
[6] “Bomb blast injures at least two people in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, January 10, 2017,

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