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. airstrike kills three suspected al Qaeda militants in Shabwah governorate; SVBIED targets chief of security in Aden; coalition airstrike hits Sana’a police headquarters; President Hadi orders smuggling crackdown in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian troops arrive in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, Somalia; Kenyan police confiscate suspected al Shabaab weapons cache in Wajir town, North Eastern Province, Kenya; Somali National Consultative Forum in Kismayo ends in gridlock; SNA commander claims AMISOM forces had advance knowledge of El Adde base attack

Yemen Security Brief

  • A U.S. airstrike killed three suspected members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in central Shabwah governorate on January 16. The strike was the first reported this year. AQAP has taken advantage of Yemen’s ongoing conflict to expand its operations in eastern and southern Yemen, and the group has operated in Shabwah since its resurgence in 2015. The last reported U.S. airstrike in Yemen killed four suspected AQAP militants on the road linking Shabwah with neighboring Abyan governorate, where the group seized two towns last month.[1]
  • Unidentified militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the residence of Aden’s Chief of Security, Brigadier General Shalal Ali Shaye’a, on January 17. The explosion killed four of the general’s guards and injured bystanders. General Shaye’a survived this attack, as well as a prior assassination attempt on January 4. The attack is the latest in a series of assassination attempts targeting prominent officials in Aden, where an Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) affiliate assassinated the prior governor in December.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition launched an airstrike on a police headquarters in Sana’a, the al Houthi-held capital of Yemen, on January 18. The attack, which killed approximately 25 and wounded 15, targeted al Houthi police and military personnel, who reportedly used the headquarters as an assembly point. The Saudi-led coalition has intensified its air campaign on al Houthi forces and their allies in recent weeks, especially in Sana’a and its environs.[3]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi ordered a crackdown on smuggling in Shabwah governorate on January 17. Officials reported that al Houthi forces and their allies are smuggling arms and oil, among other items, using the governorate’s seaport and roads. Forces loyal to President Hadi reportedly seized dozens of oil trucks in Shabwah on January 17. President Hadi’s government is seeking to exert control over Aden and other parts of southern Yemen.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Troops from the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) arrived in Kismayo in Somalia’s Lower Jubba region, where they will replace a Sierra Leonean African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) contingent.   The Ethiopians troops join Kenyan and Burundian troops in combating al Shabaab in southern Somalia. [5]
  • Kenyan police forces confiscated a cache of weapons believed to belong to an al Shabaab cell in an abandoned warehouse in Wajir town in northeastern Kenya.  The cache contained a small amount of ammunition, two AK-47 assault rifles, five magazines for the weapons, two live grenades, two detonators, and two Colt pistols with two magazines.  North Eastern Province spokesperson Mohamed Saleh claimed that the supplies belonged to ex-al Shabaab commander Mohamed Kuno “Gamadheere,” a native of Wajir County who reportedly defected to ISIS in November 2015.[6]
  • The Somali National Consultative Forum adjourned on January 18 with no clear plan for the administration of Somalia’s upcoming parliamentary and federal elections. Somalia’s states are currently divided between clan-based and district-based election systems, and local powerbrokers’ investment in the current systems has prevented regional officials from agreeing to a unified national electoral process.[7]
  • The commander of the Somali National Army (SNA) forces in Gedo region claimed that the Kenyan AMISOM contingent in El Adde had advance knowledge of the January 15 al Shabaab attack on their base.  General Abbas Ibrahim Gurey claimed that the AMISOM commander in El Adde ignored civilian reports of al Shabaab forces gathering in the area in the days before the attack. This claim follows reports that the SVBIED used in the El Adde attack was a Burundian Armored Personal Carrier (APC) stolen from a base in Leego, Lower Shabelle, in June 2015.[8]

[1] “Drone strike kills three suspected militants in Yemen,” Reuters, January 16, 2016,

Katherine, Zimmerman, “AQAP: A Resurgent Threat,” AEI Critical Threats Project, September 11, 2015,

“Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2015,” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January 26, 2015,    

[2] “Car bomb in Yemeni port city kills four, injures others: witnesses,” Reuters, January 18, 2016,

“Yemen conflict: Governor of Aden killed in Islamic State attack,” BBC News, December 6, 2015,  

[4] Saeed Al Batati, “Hadi orders crackdown onfuel and arms smuggling in Shawba [sic],” Gulf News, January 17, 2016,

Saeed Al Batati, “Yemen government clamps down on Shabwa smuggling of oil and arms,” Gulf News, January 17, 2016,

[5]“AMISOM Ethiopian National Defense Forces Contingent Deploys in Kismayo” AMISOM News, January 18,2016,

[6] “Police nab al Shabaab grenades, AK 47s in Wajir” Shabelle News, January 18, 2016,

[7] “Somali National Consultative forum wraps up with no consensus” Shabelle News, January 18, 2016,

[8] “Somali General: Kenyans Were Warned of Al-Shabab Attack” Hiiraan News, January 19, 2016,; “Al-Shabaab’s Nabhan Brigade Resurfaces and Raids AMISOM Base in Somalia” Somalia Newsroom, January 15, 2016,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '16
Jan '16
Dec '15