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: U.S. CENTCOM confirms airstrikes targeting AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate; Yemeni security forces arrest ISIS militants in Aden city; southern tribal militias announce participation in Taiz operation; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate; UN reports half of Yemeni governorates on the brink of famine

Horn of Africa: ASWJ forms parliament in Galgudud region amidst political crisis; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate grenade in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; UAE to build military base in Somaliland

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. Central Command confirmed that it conducted two airstrikes that killed three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Bayda governorate on December 29 and January 8. The December 29 airstrike killed two militants in eastern al Bayda. The January 8 airstrike killed an AQAP commander in northeastern al Bayda governorate. U.S. Central Command confirmed on December 23 that it conducted nine airstrikes targeting AQAP militants in Yemen between September 23 and December 13.[1]
  • Security forces arrested an Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militant who manufactured suicide belts in al Mansoura district, Aden city on January 13. Security forces acted on intelligence from the Saudi-led coalition. ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan killed more than 100 troops in two suicide vest attacks in Aden in mid-December 2016. Aden security forces also arrested an alleged ISIS militant in possession of multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Aden on January 12.[2]
  • Several southern tribal leaders joined Operation Golden Spear in Taiz governorate on January 13. Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government began Operation Golden Spear on January 6 in an effort to push al Houthi-Saleh militants from the region surrounding the Bab al Mandab Strait. The tribal leaders included Brigadier General Adil al Halimi, who commanded counter-AQAP operations in Lahij governorate in July 2016, and members of the Subaihi and Qasimi tribes. Southern tribal leaders also urged their peers to assist in the conflict against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz and Lahij governorates. Southern Yemeni media sources cited the death of Brigadier General Omar Said Subaihi during Operation Golden Spear on January 7 as the rallying point for southern militias.[3]
  • Likely AQAP militants attacked Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces with small arms fire near Jebel Yusef, Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate, on January 12. An AQAP-affiliated Telegram account reported on the clashes. AQAP last claimed an attack in Lawder district on January 11. The main road from Abyan to al al Bayda governorate crosses through Lawder district. AQAP maintains a significant presence in al Bayda governorate.[4]
  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) reported that nearly half of Yemen’s 22 governorates are on the brink of famine. The director of FAO’s emergency and rehabilitation division stated that, “in terms of numbers, Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) announced the formation of a 65-member regional parliament in response to a political crisis in central Somalia. ASWJ is a Sufi Islamist paramilitary organization that contests Galmudug Administration control in parts of Galgudud region. The Galmudug Administration’s regional parliament voted to impeach regional President Abdikarim Guled on January 10. President Guled declared a three-month state of emergency in response in an effort to delegitimize the vote. [6]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a grenade near a police checkpoint in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region on January 12. A group of assailants threw a hand grenade at a Somali soldier and injured two people, according to witnesses. Al Shabaab carried out several attacks in Jowhar in the past week, including an ambush on a Somali militia barracks on January 11.[7]
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to build a military base in Somaliland, an autonomous state in northern Somalia. Somaliland foreign minister Sa’ad Ali Shire confirmed that UAE delegates submitted a formal request to establish a base in Somaliland on January 11. [8]


[1] “U.S. Strikes Kill 3 Al-Qaida Operatives in Yemen,” January 12, 2017,
[2] Counterterrorism Team -- Security of the capital of Aden, Facebook, January 13, 2017,; and Counterterrorism Team -- Security of the capital of Aden, Facebook, January12, 2017,
[3] “The first appearance of Haitham Kassem Tahrir and a number of other Southern leaders near the Bab al Mandab,” Nas Taimez, January 13, 2017, and “Abahha tribes announce a general alarm to confront putschists,” Aden Lange, January 13, 2017,
[4] “Urgent: Al Qaeda members targeted a gathering of forces of al Hizam security in Lawder,” January 12, 2017,; and AQAP shares news of reported AQAP militants clashing with al Hizam security forces, Telegram, January 12, 2017.
[5] Alex Whiting, “Yemeni farmers urgently need support to help ease hunger crisis: U.N,” Reuters, January 13, 2017,
[6] “Political Sands Shift in Central Somalia: Galmudug’s Political Crisis,” Somalia Newsroom, January 12, 2017,
[7] “2 Injured in Grenade Attack In Jowhar, Goobjoob News, January 13, 2017,
[8] “United Arab Emirates Wants to Open Military Base in Somaliland,” Somaliland Press, January 13, 2017,
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