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: Al Houthis control areas in Nihm district; suspected AQAP militants appear in Abyan governorate; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthis in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government prepares large offensive against al Shabaab; al Shabaab executes three men accused of working for government forces

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthis seized the al Jawf junction in Nihm district in Sana’a governorate, east of the capital Sana’a, around January 26. The al Houthis clashed with government forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi around Nihm district, causing the government forces to withdraw. Hadi government forces anticipate troop reinforcements to recover the territory in Nihm, according to military sources. The Saudi-led coalition conducted retaliatory airstrikes targeting al Houthi militants in Nihm on January 23 following a suspected al Houthi ballistic missile and drone attack on a Hadi military training camp in Ma’rib governorate on January 18.[1]

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants have appeared in Dithina in southeastern Abyan governorate in southern Yemen, according to local sources. Locals said the militants carried out several attacks targeting security forces in the area. AQAP militants seized al Wuday district in Abyan governorate in September 2019.[2]

Hadi government forces clashed with the al Houthis in Taiz city in southwestern Taiz governorate. Hadi government-aligned forces claimed they killed an al Houthi leader and four other members. The al Houthis reported that they repelled the government forces and killed several soldiers.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) announced that it deployed hundreds of troops to unspecified frontlines in Somalia on January 26 in preparation of an offensive to recapture al Shabaab-controlled areas. This is the first time that the SFG has deployed such a large number of forces to participate in an al Shabaab offensive, according to local sources. Somali soldiers recaptured Toratorow in the Lower Shabelle region, about 62 miles southwest of the capital Mogadishu, on January 13.[4]

Al Shabaab executed three men in Kamsuma in Somalia’s southeastern Lower Jubba region on January 25. The group accused the men of working with federal government troops, including the Somali Special Forces and Jubbaland forces in Bar Sanguni. They accused one man of spying for the Kenyan Defense Forces.[5]

[1] “Military sources: the al Houthis control areas east of Sana’a,” Al Jazeera, January 26, 2020,الحوثيين-فرضة-نهم-مفرق-الجوف-معارك-اليمن; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 23, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 23, 2020,

[2] “A suspicious spread of al Qaeda members in Dithina in Abyan,” 7adramout, January 27, 2020,

[3] “Yemen: al Houthi leader and four members killed in Taiz,” Albawaba, January 27, 2020,; and “Yemeni Army launches large-scale offensive in Taiz,” Al Masdar News, January 27, 2020,

[4]“Somalia sends troops to frontlines as Al-Shabaab steps up attacks,” Garowe, January 26, 2020,; and “Somali security forces recaptures key town from al-Shabaab,” The East African, January 14, 2020,

[5] “Al-Shabab executed three men in Kamsuma,” Goobjoog, January 26, 2020,; and “Al-shabaab executed three in Lower Jubba region,” Radiokulmiye, January 27, 2020,

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