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: Hadi government and Emirati-backed forces break up checkpoints in al Dhaleh governorate; Hadi government forces continue Operation Golden Spear in Taiz governorate; officers accuse Hadi government of withholding salaries in Aden

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush militia barracks near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants open fire on civilian bus near Mahaday, Middle Shabelle region; U.S. State Department issues new travel warning for Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • The 33rd al Dhaleh Police Brigade and Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces broke up over a dozen checkpoints established by militias in al Dhaleh governorate, southern Yemen on January 11. The 33rd Brigade is loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. Militants at one checkpoint in al Dhaleh reportedly set fire to a truck when a local driver refused to pay a bribe on January 10, following several days of protests by truck drivers. Al Hizam forces exchanged fire with armed militants before arresting five militants and dismantling a checkpoint in al Dhaleh. Militias reportedly harassed villages in southern al Dhaleh with explosives in response to the crackdown.[1]
  • Hadi government forces challenged al Houthi-Saleh positions in Dhubab and al Wazi’iyah districts in Taiz governorate on January 12. Hadi government forces claimed to seize Mount Monaim al Rubai’a west of Taiz city. Hadi government forces began Operation Golden Spear in an effort to drive back al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz and Lahij governorates on January 6.[2]
  • Hadi government-aligned military officers in Aden are accusing the Hadi government of defrauding them of their salaries. These accusations come after the Hadi government announced on January 6 that it would use 200 billion Russian-printed Yemeni riyals to pay salaries by January 9.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Somali militia barracks near Jowhar town in Middle Shabelle region at night on January 11. Al Shabaab launched a similar nighttime attack on a Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) security checkpoint near Jowhar on January 4. Jowhar is the capital of Middle Shabelle region. It is located along a major road 90 kilometers north of Mogadishu.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants opened fire on a civilian bus near Mahaday town in Middle Shabelle region on January 11, injuring four people. Al Shabaab has conducted multiple improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on AMISOM convoys in Mahaday town since December 2016. Al Shabaab temporarily seized Mahaday town on December 16 before SNA and AMISOM forces recaptured it on December 17.[5]
  • The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning for U.S. citizens in Somalia on January 11 due to continuous al Shabaab activity. The warning outlined the specific terrorist threat to foreigners at sites that include airports, government buildings, hotels, and shopping areas. Al Shabaab carried out 14 attacks directed at hotels, restaurants, and the international airport in Mogadishu in 2016. Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage emphasized the group’s preference for targeting government, military, and foreign entities in Mogadishu on January 6. The warning replaces the previous State Department travel warning dated May 24, 2016.[6]


[1] “Security operation to cut off armed checkpoints on main road in al Dhaleh,” al Khaleej, January 12, 2017,, “Wide popular support from local community for security campaign against check points in Baldhala,” Aden Ghad, January 11, 2017,, “Army destroys collection points in Baldhala, destroys collection points,” Aden Ghad, January 11, 2017,, “Dhaleh security regain control of the state in first battles, gunmen killed in battle with security forces,” Aden Ghad, January 11, 2017,, and “Armed thugs were shelling citizens housing Baldhala after an army campaign to expel them,” Aden Ghad, January 11, 2017,
[2] “Renewed fighting between government forces and Houthis in southwestern Taiz governorate, northern Lahij,” al Madar, January 12, 2017,
[3] “Committee for payment of salaries defrauded and we appeal to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to intervene,” Aden Lange, January 12, 2017,
[4] Al Shabaab claim nighttime ambush on government militia in Jowhar, Telegram, January 12, 2017.
[5] “Four injured as Al shabaab opens fire on civilian bus,” Shabelle News, January 12, 2017,
[6] “Somalia Travel Warning,” U.S. Department of State, January 11, 2017,
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