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: Yemeni foreign minister criticizes UN meeting with the al Houthi-Saleh government; AQAP ambushes Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in northern Abyan governorate; Hadi-allied forces continue offensive on Mokha city; Hadi government and popular resistance forces repel al Houthi-Saleh forces in northwestern Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack SNA positions in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; Jubbaland and Kenyan forces seize Badhadhe, Lower Jubba region; U.S. sells counter-insurgency aircraft to Kenya; AMISOM and SNA forces clash with al Shabaab in Hudur town, Bakool region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi criticized a meeting between UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and an al Houthi-Saleh official on January 23. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with al Houthi-Saleh Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah on January 23 after previously insisting on meeting only unofficial al Houthi-Saleh representatives. Al Mikhlafi called the meeting “unacceptable and inconsistent with [Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s] obligations as an envoy.” Ould Cheikh Ahmed called on the Saudi-led coalition to allow commercial flights to Sana’a’s airport, an al Houthi-Saleh condition for peace negotiations, following the meeting. Yemeni Foreign Minister al Mikhlafi also stated that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government will continue to pursue battlefield successes.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed and destroyed a supply truck belonging to Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate on January 24. Al Hizam forces withdrew from several checkpoints in Lawder district on January 19, citing a lack of supplies to defend against AQAP attacks. AQAP militants also shelled al Hizam forces near Mount Akad, Lawder district on January 23 and detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Hizam forces in al Ayn village, Lawder district on January 21.[2]
  • Hadi government forces are contesting Mokha city. Hadi-allied forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition air support, exchanged small arms fire with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Mokha city on January 24. Hadi government and popular resistance forces began an offensive on camp Khalid bin al Waleed on January 24, located approximately 60 kilometers from Taiz city along the road between Mokha and Taiz. Hadi government forces seized an airbase between Mokha and Camp al Waleed on January 23.  Al Houthi-Saleh forces use the route that passes by Camp al Waleed to resupply its forces in Taiz city, despite significant damage to the road.[3]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces repelled an al Houthi-Saleh attack in northwestern Shabwah governorate on January 24. Popular resistance forces claimed to kill an al Houthi-Saleh commander who was leading an attack on Usaylan district, northwestern Shabwah governorate. Hadi government and popular resistance forces seized territory in Usaylan and neighboring Bayhan districts on December 27, 2016, after reinvigorating an offensive in the area. Hadi government forces seek to seize territory in Usaylan and Bayhan districts in order to secure major roadways that lead to al Bayda and Ma’rib governorates in central Yemen. Control over northwestern Shabwah would solidify Hadi government control over eastern Yemen.[4]

 Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab conducted several attacks against the Somali National Army (SNA) in Afgoi town, Lower Shabelle Region on January 24. The militants attacked a SNA outpost with small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), killing four soldiers and civilians and wounding five others. Militants also detonated an IED underneath a SNA convoy several hours later, killing five soldiers. Afgoi town is located 30 kilometers away from Mogadishu.[5]
  • Jubbaland security forces backed by Kenyan forces and reported U.S. advisors captured the coastal town of Badhadhe in Lower Jubba region from al Shabaab on January 24. Jubbaland security forces launched an offensive to clear the Lower Jubba region of al Shabaab fighters on December 28.[6]
  • The U.S. Department of State approved the sale of 12 weaponized Air Tractor AT-802L aircraft and two AT-504 training aircraft to the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) on January 23. The Air Tractor AT-802L is a light counter-insurgency aircraft that is often used for counter-narcotics missions in South America. The deal is reportedly worth $418 million.[7]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and SNA forces attacked al Shabaab positions near Hudur town, Bakool region on January 24. Local sources reported heavy small arms fire that lasted six hours. Two al Shabaab militants and two SNA soldiers died in the clash.[8]


[1] Abdul Malik Mikhlafi, Twitter, January 23, 2017,; Abdul Malik Mikhlafi, Twitter, January 23, 2017,; Abdul Malik Mikhlafi, Twitter, January 23, 2017,; and UN Envoy to Yemen, January 23, 2017,
[2] AQAP claims attack on an al Hizam supply truck in Lawder, Abyan, Telegram, January 24, 2017; AQAP claims to shell al Hizam forces near Mount Akad, Lawder, Abyan, Telegram, January 23; and “Wounded after a bomb explosion targeting a military truck in Abyan,” Aden Lang, January 21, 2017,
[3] “Legitimacy stresses the screws on "pockets of coup" in Mokha,” Aden Lang, January 24, 2017,; “Heavy fighting between rebels and government forces in the east and south of the city of Mokha,” al Masdar, January 24, 2017,; and “The resistance and the army began storming Khalid Bin Al Waleed camp near Mokha,” Aden Lang, January 24, 2017,
[4] “13 al Houthis killed, including a senior commander, and wounding 18 others in battles in the western province of Shabwah,” al Masdar, January 24, 2017,
[5] “Roadside Bomb kills at least 4 troops in Somalia town: officials,” Reuters, January 24, 2017,; “Five Somali soldiers killed in landmine blast in Afgooye,” Goobjoog, January 24, 2017,; and “Four killed in Al-Shabaab attack on Afgooye town,” Goobjoog, January 24, 2017,
[6] “KDF, foreign forces take Badhadhe from Al shabaab,” Shabelle News, January 24, 2017,; and “Jubbaland, AU forces capture Badhadhe in Southern Somalia,” Goobjoog, January 24, 2017,
[7] Elsa Buchanan, “Fight against terror; US to sell aircraft to Kenyan army to aid fight against al-Shabaab,” IB Times, January 24, 2017,; and “U.S. State Dept OKs possible $418 million military aircraft sale to Kenya,” Reuters, January 23, 2017,
[8] “Three killed as Somali forces and Al-Shabaab clash in Bakool, Somalia,” Goobjoog, January 24, 2017,
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