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 establishes checkpoints on Aden-Abyan road; Hadi government channel broadcasts southerners’ Reconciliation and Tolerance Day; unidentified militants kill two security officers in Aden

Horn of Africa: Kenyan authorities arrest suspected al Shabaab militants in Kotulo, Mandera County, Kenya; U.S. ambassador to Somalia appointed; al Shabaab attacks Somali government forces in El Shiil, Galgaduud region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) imposed inspection checkpoints on the main road linking Aden and Abyan governorates, including one checkpoint in Dofes just outside Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan. The checkpoints are the first established by AQAP since the group recaptured Zinjibar in December 2015. AQAP is still working to consolidate control in both Zinjibar and nearby Ja’ar, where it clashed with popular resistance forces last week. AQAP occupied both cities in 2011 and part of 2012.[1]
  • The official channel of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government broadcast a rally commemorating the tenth Reconciliation and Tolerance Day, an annual event established by Yemen’s Southern Movement to unite southerners in pursuit of recognition and increased government support. The Yemeni government has previously ignored the event or attempted to outlaw participation. Some elements of the Southern Movement advocate southern independence and secession from the Yemeni state, and an attempted secession lead to a civil war in 1994. The Hadi government’s acknowledgement of Reconciliation and Tolerance day comes amid reports that al Houthi leaders recently met with former South Yemen politicians in Beirut, Lebanon.[2]
  • Unidentified gunmen killed two traffic security officers in Aden city. The militants, riding motorbikes, shot and killed the two officers and their driver. The attack is the latest in a series of assassinations in the Hadi government’s temporary capital, despite efforts by government security forces and the Saudi-led coalition to secure the city.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan police arrested eight Somali nationals with suspected links to al Shabaab following a raid near Kotulo in Mandera County in northeastern Kenya on January 11. The individuals are suspected of carrying out a series of attacks on civilian motorists on the Mandera-Wajir roadway.  The militants were arrested as part of ongoing counterterrorism operations in northeastern Kenya.[4] 
  • President Obama appointed Stephen M. Schwartz to serve as the new U.S. ambassador to Somalia.  Pending confirmation by the Senate, Schwartz will be the first person to hold the position since the U.S. closed its embassy in Somalia in 1991.[5] 
  • Al Shabaab gunmen attacked and defeated Somali Federal Government (SFG) forces near El Shiil village, Galgaduud region, killing six soldiers.  Residents reported that SFG troops fell back towards the town of El Buur, roughly 18 kilometers away. [6]
[1] “Al Qaeda extends inspection points on the Aden-Abyan road,”, January 13, 2016,
[2] “For the first time in its history, the Aden government’s channel broadcasts Southern Movement activities,”, January 13, 2016,
Khalid Al-Karimi, “Southerners mark reconciliation and tolerance day,” Yemen Times, January 12, 2015,
“Photo of al Houthi spokesman and President Ali Nasir stirs controversy,”, January 8, 2015,
[3] “Two traffic officials killed by militant fire in a Suzuki pass in al Sheikh Othman,”, January 13, 2016,
4 Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Kenya Security Authorities In Mandera Hold 8 Suspected Al-Shabaab Militants; NEP Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh Confirms,” Strategic Intelligence Services, January 13, 2016,
5 “U.S. Appoints New Ambassador to Somalia,” Shabelle News, January 13, 2016,
Maalik Som, “Heavy Battle in Central Somalia Kills Six Soldiers,” January 13, 2016,
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