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: Dozens of militants attempt to storm al Hudaydah port and are stopped by port guards; tribal gunmen capture oil company train cars in Ma’rib governorate; two brigades move to Dhamar governorate as part of military realignment; Interior Ministry source claims no proof that 3 Western hostages are being held by AQAP; official Chinese news correspondent escapes assassination attempt; protesters demonstrate in front of Taiz government offices; police lieutenant thought to be assassinated by poison died of a heart attack; President Hadi held secret meeting with Major General al Ahmar; President Hadi scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on January 20; popular committees formed in Shabwah

Horn of Africa: Unknown gunmen kill five in Garissa, Kenya; Clinton expected to acknowedge Somali government; two suspected terrorists die from own IEDs in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya; U.S. State Department issues travel warning for Kenya; al Shabaab militant defects to Ahlu Sunna troops in Luq, Gedo region; Somali defense minister travels to Ankara, Turkey; Ethiopian prime minister to take over as AU chairperson

Yemen Security Brief

  • Dozens of militants attempted to storm the port of al Hudaydah, exchanging gunfire with port guards on January 17. The militants, who were carrying Republican Guard identification, surrendered and were taken to a Central Security camp for questioning, according to security sources.[1]
  • Tribal gunmen captured train cars belonging to the al Hutheily oil company in al Makhtum district, Ma’rib governorate on January 16. The gunmen are in discussions with leadership of a local military unit regarding the issue according to tribal sources.[2]
  • The Yemeni First Mountain Infantry Brigade and a Special Forces brigade were moved to Dhamar governorate on January 16, in accordance with the Ministry of Defense plan to realign Yemen’s military brigades. The First Mountain Infantry Brigade is led by Staff Brigadier General Ali Mohammad al Faqih, and the Special Forces brigade is led by Brigadier General Ahmad Hassan Dahan.[3]
  • A Yemeni Interior Ministry source claimed that there is no proof that the three European hostages abducted December 21 in Sana’a have been handed over to AQAP, in statements to the Yemen Post on January 16, contrary to media reports. He also claimed that Yemeni authorities were refusing to negotiate with the kidnappers.[4]
  • Faris al Humairi, a correspondent for China’s official news agency Xinhua, survived an assassination attempt on January 17 on Palace Street in Sana’a. The attempt took the form of a deliberate traffic accident.[5]
  • Protesters demonstrated in front of the Taiz governorate offices on January 16, demanding the dismissal of local officials who collaborated with authorities in the 2011 Yemen uprising, and a withdrawal of the Transitional Justice law from consideration in Yemeni parliament. Taiz University faculty also protested by staging a sit-in demanding that the local government follow up on allegations of corruption against the university president.[6]
  • Lieutenant Ghalib al Hosni, a police commander who died on January 16 in al Hudaydah governorate, died of a heart attack and not deliberate poisoning as earlier reported by the media, according to Director of Security for al Hudaydah governorate Staff Brigadier General Mohammad al Maqaleh on January 17. The Brigadier General cited a report from al Hudaydah’s military hospital, which stated that Lieutenant al Hosni died of natural causes.[7]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi held a secret meeting with Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar sometime last week, according to Yemeni daily Ashara’a. Ashara’a reported that in this meeting, President Hadi was able to convince Major General al Ahmar to agree to proposed military restructuring, and to agree to the reinstatement of Major General Hafezullah al Sadmi as commander of the Yemeni 29th Mechanized Brigade. This meeting reportedly took place before Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmad traveled to Division Headquarters to inaugurate the military training year.[8]
  • President Hadi is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on January 20, where he will lead a delegation to the Arabic Economic Summit in Riyadh.[9]
  • Tribal sources in Shabwah reported to Yemeni newspaper Al Masdar Online on January 16 that tribal militias, called popular committees, were being formed to provide security in the governorate because of government failure to protect the region. The source added that local authorities had enlisted 300 men.[10]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Unknown gunmen stormed a hotel in Garissa, Kenya on January 16. The gunmen shot and killed five civilians and injured at least four more. No one has been arrested for the murders and the reason behind the attack is unknown. Kenyan police are investigating the incident.[11]
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is expected to announce official U.S. recognition of the Somali government on January 17 in Washington, D.C. during a meeting with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.[12]
  • Two men died when their improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonated prematurely in the Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya on January 17. The two men are believed to be native Somalis who were planning to target security convoys along the road.[13]
  • The United States Department of State issued a travel warning for Kenya on January 14, citing terrorist attacks and high crime.[14]
  • An al Shabaab militant defected to Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a troops in Luq, Gedo region on January 17. The defector arrived in an al Shabaab vehicle.[15]
  • Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi traveled to Ankara, Turkey on January 16. In Turkey, Minister Fiqi will attend an international conference aimed at supporting the security situation in Somalia.[16]
  • Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn is scheduled to take over as chairperson of the African Union. He must be voted in by member states at an AU Summit on January 27 and 28 in order to assume the position. A new AU chairperson is voted in every January.[17]  

[1] “Dozens of Militants’ Attempt to Storm Hudaydah Port Disrupted,” al Masdar, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Tribal Gunmen in Ma’rib Capture Oil Company’s Train Cars,” News Yemen, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Dhamar Province Receives First Infantry Brigade and Special Forces Unit,” Saba News, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Military Brigade from Special Forces Moves from Sana’a to Dhamar,” al Masdar Online, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Interior Ministry Official: No evidence Abducted Europeans Handed to al Qaeda,” Yemen Post, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “al Humairi Escapes Assassination Attempt,” Barakish Net, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Huge Demonstration in Taiz Demanding Resignation of ‘the Corrupt’ and University Faculty Stage a Sit-In in front of Prosecutor’s Office,” al Masdar Online, January 16, 2013 [Arabic], Available:
[7] “Hudaydah Security Director to al Masdar Online: the Hays Checkpoint Officer’s Death Came After a Heart Attack,” al Masdar Online, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “President Hadi Moves to Live in Presidential House, and Meets with Major General Ali Mohsen,” Barakish Net, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “President Hadi Visits Saudi Arabia,” Barakish Net, January 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Popular Committeees Take on Security Duties in Shabwah after Failure of Security Officials,” al Masdar Online, January 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[11] “Five Dead, Four Injured in Garissa Attack,” Daily Nation, January 16, 2013. Available:
“Four Killed in Kenyan Town on Somali Border,” Al Jazeera, January 17, 2013. Available:
[12] “US to officially recognise Somalia government,” BBC, January 16, 2013. Available:
[13] “Terror Suspects Die After Bombs Explode on Them,” Daily Standard, January 17, 2013. Available:
[14] “Travel Warning: Kenya,” U.S. Department of State, January 14, 2013. Available:
[15] “Alleged Militants Surrender to ASWJ in Luq,” Bar Kulan, January 17, Available:
[16] “Defense Minister of the Somali Government Goes to Turkey,” Radio Mogadishu, January 16, 2013. Available:
[17] “Ethiopia Says to Take over as AU Chair,” AFP, January 16, 2013. Available:
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