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: UN Special Envoy for Yemen attempts to convene negotiations; Hadi government and al Houthi-Saleh forces exchange artillery fire near the Bab al Mandab Strait; AQAP militants detonate IED targeting Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in northern Abyan

Horn of Africa: Somali Lower House Speaker re-elected; Galmudug president declares state of emergency; Kenyan Police arrest two al Shabaab militants in Nairobi; al Shabaab attacks Kenyan forces near Mandera town, eastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Yemen on January 9 to renew efforts to bring the al Houthi-Saleh alliance and the Hadi government to negotiations. Ould Cheikh Ahmed is visiting Aden and Sana’a. He is reportedly focused on setting the terms for a de-escalation committee that will establish a ceasefire. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced in mid-December 2016 that a new round of negotiations for a ceasefire will take place in Amman, Jordan in January 2017.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed an attack targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate on January 11. AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the convoy of al Hizam commander Amin al Sayyid as it traveled from Lawder city to al Ayn village. The IED blast killed al Sayyid and injured five other al Hizam troops, according to local news sources.[2]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi exchanged artillery and mortar fire with al Houthi-Saleh forces along the Dhubab-Kahboub frontline in western Taiz governorate on January 11. The Dhubab-Kahboub front is adjacent to the Bab al Mandab Strait. Hadi government and popular resistance forces shelled al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Dhubab district. Al Houthi-Saleh forces responded by shelling Mount Omari, which Hadi government forces seized on January 8, and the Kahboub area. Saudi-led coalition warplanes also struck al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Dhubab on January 11. Hadi government and popular resistance forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition air assets and Emirati special forces, launched Operation Golden Spear to seize the area surrounding the Bab al Mandab Strait on January 7.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Members of Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament elected Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari to a second term as speaker of the house on January 11. Jawari became speaker in 2012 in the first elections for Speaker of the Federal Parliament in two decades. Somalia’s parliament is also responsible for electing a president. Presidential elections are expected to take place later this month.[4]
  • Kenyan police arrested two al Shabaab militants in Nairobi, Kenya on January 11. The police claim the militants were planning attacks on churches in the capital. Al Shabaab gunmen conducted a mass-casualty attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013.[5]
  • The president of the semi-autonomous Galmudug state, Abdikarim Hussein Guled, declared a state of emergency on January 11. Galmudug’s parliament voted to impeach President Guled on January 10.[6]
  • Al Shabaab-affiliated Telegram accounts claimed that militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) that destroyed a Kenyan tank and killed several soldiers near Mandera town, Kenya on January 11. Al Shabaab frequently targets Kenyan forces operating in and around Mandera town, a community of mainly ethnic Somalis located near the Ethiopian and Somali borders.[7]
[1] “Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s Tour: Activating committee overseeing the truce,” Aden Tomorrow, January 11, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims to kill an al Hizam commander with an IED in northern Abyan, Telegram, January 11, 2017; and “A medical source: injured captain in the security zone and 4 soldiers, a car bomb killed one soldier in Lawder,” Aden Tomorrow, January 11, 2017,
[3] “Renewed fighting in the west Dhubab Taiz and coalition warplanes bombed militia positions,” al Masdar, January 11, 2017,
[4] “Former Parliament Speaker re-elected as the leader of Lower House,” Goobjoog, January 11, 2017,; “Somali parliament elects Jawari 2nd term in office,” Shabelle News, January 11, 2017,; and “Somalia lawmakers choose speaker for new parliament,” The Washington Post, January 11, 2017,
[5] “Two al Shabaab suspects detained in Kenya for planning attacks,” Africa News, January 11, 2017,
[6] “Somalia: President Guled Declares State of Emergency in Galmudug,” All Africa, January 11, 2017,
[7] Al Shabaab claims attack on Kenyan Forces, Telegram, January 11, 2017.
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