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 militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate; Hadi government forces plan to seize Mokha district, Taiz governorate; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda and Ibb governorates

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants raid SNA bases and police station in Qoryooley, Middle Shabelle region; SNA and KDF forces seize key village from al Shabaab in Gedo region; AMISOM requests 9,000 additional troops; Burundi to begin withdrawal of 5,400 troops from Somalia; NISA soldiers clash with local police over Galmudug parliament session

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed three attacks targeting Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in northern Abyan governorate on January 14 and 15. AQAP militants ambushed al Hizam technicals on January 14 and 15. AQAP militants also shelled an al Hizam checkpoint in Lawder district on January 15. An al Hizam commander warned on January 17 that security in Lawder district is deteriorating and may collapse without additional support. The main road connecting Abyan and al Bayda governorates crosses through Lawder district.[1]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi commenced a new phase of Operation Golden Spear on January 17. This phase aims to seize Mokha district, Taiz governorate. This announcement comes after Hadi government forces captured Camp Omari from the al Houthi-Saleh forces on January 8. Hadi government forces also claimed to push al Houthi-Saleh forces out of Dhubab district, Taiz governorate on January 14.[2]
  • AQAP claimed multiple attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen between January 14 and 16. AQAP militants detonated an IED targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in northwestern Ibb governorate on January 14 and killed an al Houthi-Saleh recruiter in northwestern Ibb governorate on January 15. AQAP militants claimed to “liberate” the al Hajab area, Rada’a district in neighboring al Bayda governorate on January 15. AQAP militants also claimed to destroy an al Houthi-Saleh technical following an ambush in the Qifa area, Rada’a district, northwestern al Bayda on January 16.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants raided Somalia National Army (SNA) bases and a police station in Qoryooley town in Lower Shabelle region on January 15. Al Shabaab seized control of the town during the raid. Al Shabaab launched multiple attacks against SNA forces in Qoryooley in the last month, including a similar raid on an SNA base on December 14. Al Shabaab positions forces near Qoryooley town, which is located 20 kilometers from the strategic port city of Marka.[4]
  • SNA and Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) drove al Shabaab militants from Nusdariq village near Beled-Hawo in Gedo region on January 16. Al Shabaab militants fled the area after SNA and KDF forces launched an offensive to seize to village on January 16. Nusdariq village is located 90 kilometers from Beled-Hawo, the capital of Gedo region.[5]
  • The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Ambassador Francisco Madeiro, asked AMISOM member states to deploy an additional 9,000 troops to Somalia to enhance peacekeeping and stabilization operations. AMISOM intends to implement a phased withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Somalia by the end of 2017 after it completes the training, equipping, and deploying of 20,000 SNA troops. AMISOM has struggled with inadequate funding and equipment shortages. The European Union (EU) cut funding for AMISOM by 20 percent in July 2016. AMISOM troop contributing countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, have threatened to withdraw troops.[6]
  • Burundi announced on January 16 it will begin the process of withdrawing its 5,400 troops from AMISOM. The Burundian government blamed the EU for withholding salaries from soldiers for 12 months. The European Union (EU) froze payments to Burundian troops through the African Union as part of the EU sanctions against Burundi. Burundi supplies one quarter of total AMISOM forces in Somalia.[7]
  • Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) soldiers clashed with local police forces in Adado town, Galgudud region on January 17. NISA soldiers attempted to disrupt a Galmudug parliamentary session convening in Adado town. Police forces defended the parliament compound. The Galmudug Administration parliament voted to impeach regional President Abdikarim Guled last week. President Guled declared a three-month state of emergency in Galmudug in response to the vote. [8]


[1] AQAP militants claim attacks targeting al Hizam security forces in Lawder, Abyan governorate, Telegram, January 14 and 15, 2017; and “Commander of the al Hizam security in Lawder warns of the fall of the province back into the quagmire of chaos,” Aden Lang, January 17, 2017,
[2] “Golden Spear announce a battle to restore the Mokha Directorate,” Aden Lange, January 17, 2017,, “A Brigade Commander in Aden: the role of the UAE, Golden Spear expected to enter Mokha in two days,” Mukalla Now, January 17, 2017,, and Mohammed, al Qalisi, “Yemeni forces clear Dhubab ahead of push for Mokha,” January 14, 2017,
[3] AQAP militants claim attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and al Bayda governorate, Telegram, January 14-16, 2017.
[4] “Al Shabaab launches attack on Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, January 16, 2017,
[5] “SNA, KDF push al Shabaab out of key area in Gedo,” Shabelle News, January 16, 2017,
[6] “AMISOM seeks 9,000 more peacekeepers in Somalia,” Shabelle News, January 17, 2017,
[7]  “Burundi to withdraw troops from AU Somalia mission,” Shabelle News, January 16, 2017,
[8] “Heavy fighting erupts in Galmudug’s interim seat,” Shabelle News, January 17, 2017,
View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '17
Jan '17
Dec '16