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: UN panel calls for investigation of human rights abuses in Yemen; coalition deploys reinforcements to Aden’s oil port; ISIS militant calls for travel to Yemen; more than 30 Hadhrami Domestic Council members resign over disagreements with AQAP

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED attack kills five Kenyan police officers near Milimani, Lamu County, Kenya; attacks aid workers in Somalia increase in 2015; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM forces near el Adde and Likoley in Gedo region, Somalia; Kenyan Parliament to investigate el Adde attack

Yemen Security Brief

  • A panel of UN experts called for the UN Security Council to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Yemen. The panel’s report, which has not yet been released to the public, details alleged violations of international humanitarian law that include systemic airstrikes on civilian targets and the use of starvation as a tool of war. The proposed investigation comes amid growing international concern for civilian casualties and the broader humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The White House released a statement on January 23 calling on all sides to avoid harming civilians and to allow the delivery of food and other essentials to those in need.[1]
  • The Saudi-led coalition deployed reinforcements to the port of Aden on January 27. The additional troops will help to secure Aden’s oil port. Pro-government and coalition forces have struggled to secure Yemen’s temporary capital, which has witnessed a steady stream of assassinations and attacks on infrastructure. The arrival of reinforcements closely follows the return of Yemen’s Prime Minister and his cabinet to Aden on January 25.[2]
  • A self-described Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militant called for Muslims to travel to Yemen in a post on Twitter on January 25. The alleged militant, who calls himself Abu Osama Somali, said that the trip to Yemen is “easy,” and preferable to living among non-believers. He referenced Wilayat Hadramawt, an ISIS-linked cell operating in eastern Yemen. Abu Osama previously tweeted criticisms of al Shabaab in Somalia, contrasting the al Qaeda-affiliated group with ISIS.[3]
  • More than 30 members of the Hadhrami Domestic Council (HDC) in al Mukalla, Hadramawt have reportedly resigned due to disagreements with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to a pro-Saudi news source. The HDC took over governance of al Mukalla from AQAP’s affiliate, Sons of Hadramawt, in April 2015, and has administered the city largely in accordance with AQAP’s interests. The wave of resignations reportedly stems from AQAP’s attempts to reorganize the opening of al Mukalla’s security administration and to administer basic services like electricity, water, and communications. AQAP also reportedly stopped paying the salaries of HDC members. AQAP has reportedly increased its presence in al Mukalla since the arrival of Saudi-led coalition vessels in the city’s port last week.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) under a Kenyan police truck near Milimani in Lamu County, Kenya. The attack killed five officers and wounded three others from a Rapid Deployment Unit.  The truck, which was carrying 10 officers in total, was traveling to the Uslama military camp near the Kenyan-Somali border at the time of the attack. Al Shabaab took responsibility for the attack and claimed that eight soldiers had been killed.[5]
  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the number attacks on aid workers in Somalia rose from 75 in 2014 to 140 in 2015. The number of aid worker deaths rose from 10 to 17. OCHA stated that armed groups continue to disrupt economic development and aid delivery in Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Hiiraan regions.[6] 
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces outside el Adde and Likoley towns in Gedo region, Somalia on January 27. The clashes occurred as AMISOM troops from the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) were withdrawing towards the Somali-Kenyan border.   Local sources claimed that the el Adde town chairman was killed or injured in the ambush.[7]
  • Kenyan parliamentarians formally announced the formation of a committee of inquiry regarding the January 15 al Shabaab attack on a Kenyan-held AMISOM base in el Adde.   Ndung’u Gethenji, Chairman of Kenya’s Parliamentary Defense Committee, asserted that there is a need for a full understanding of the events surrounding the incident if Kenyan forces are to maintain a presence in Somalia as part of AMISOM.[8]

[1] Cara Anna, “UN panel on Yemen: Consider creating commission of inquiry,” Associated Press, January 26, 2016, “UN panel calls for international inquiry in Yemen,” Middle East Eye, January 27, 2016, “White House raises concerns about harm to civilians in Yemen,” Reuters, January 23, 2016,
[2] “Reinforcements from the coalition arrive in Aden to support the security plan,”, January 27, 2016, “Yemen PM returns to Aden to reestablish govt,” Al Arabiya English, January 25, 2016,
[3] SITE Intelligence Group, January 25, 2016, source available upon request.  SITE Intelligence Group, December 2, 2015, source available upon request.
[5] Joseph Akwiri, “Five Kenyan police killed after truck hits explosive device,” Reuters Africa, January 27, 2016, Kalume Kazungu, “Five police officers feared dead, three injured in Lamu IED attack,” The Daily Nation, January 26, 2016,
[6] Katy Migiro, “Attacks on aid workers in Somalia almost double in 2015, kill 17: U.N,” Reuters, January 26, 2016,
[7] “Heavy fighting between Al shabaab and KDF erupts in Gedo,” Shabelle News, January 27, 2016,  “Kenyan forces kill Elade DC in Likooley town, Gedo, Wacaal News, January 27, 2016,  Harun Maruf (via Twitter),   January 27, 2016,
[8] “Kenyan MPs to probe attack on KDF Somalia camp,” Shabelle News, January 27, 2016,
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