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: Former president Saleh criticizes UN peace proposal; AQAP attacks Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Abyan governorate; Hadi government forces attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Yemen; Hadi government forces repel al Houthi-Saleh attacks in northwestern Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates two SVBIEDs at military checkpoint in Mogadishu; Somali and Kenyan forces clash with al Shabaab militants in Gedo region; al Shabaab conducts assassination operations in Baidoa and Mogadishu; Puntland and Galmudug presidents sign ceasefire agreement

Yemen Security Brief

  • Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh denounced a UN roadmap for peace talks on December 31. The UN proposed the plan, which includes disarmament, withdrawal, and a power transfer to a consensus leader, in October 2016. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance voiced support for the framework on November 16. Former president Saleh claimed that the frameworks on which the UN plan is based are no longer legitimate and would constrain Yemenis’ freedoms. These frameworks include the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and Implementation Mechanism, the National Dialogue Outcomes, and UN Security Council Resolution 2216. Former president Saleh also emphasized the need for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to transfer his powers to a new democratically elected leader. The Hadi government has continually called for the al Houthi-Saleh faction to disarm, withdraw, and relinquish control of government institutions before negotiations can take place.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Shaqra, southern Abyan governorate on January 3. AQAP militants claimed to destroy military vehicles belonging to the al Hizam security forces in the ambush. Local sources confirmed that militants killed three al Hizam troops and stole a vehicle. Clashes broke out between two al Hizam units that blamed each other for failing to secure the attack site. AQAP also claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Hizam security forces in al Ayn village, northern Abyan governorate on January 3.[2]
  • Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi attacked al Houthi-Saleh positions in northern Yemen. Hadi government forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Haradh and Midi districts, Hajjah governorate on January 2 and 3. The attack killed two al Houthi-Saleh commanders in Midi district. Hadi government and popular resistance forces also seized the strategic al Thar and Habash mountains, near the al Buqa border crossing, in neighboring Sa’ada governorate on January 2. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Hibal area in Saqayn district, Sa’ada, located approximately 20km from the Saudi-Yemeni border.[3]
  • Hadi government forces repelled multiple al Houthi-Saleh attacks in Bayhan and Usaylan districts, western Shabwah governorate on January 1-3. Both sides seek to control major roadways to neighboring al Bayda and Ma’rib governorates that cross through Bayhan and Usaylan districts. Hadi government forces renewed an offensive in northwestern Shabwah on December 27. A Hadi government brigade commander warned that his forces must be resupplied in order to continue fighting.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu on January 2. The checkpoint was located next to the headquarters of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Peace Hotel. Foreigners frequent the area. Al Shabaab’s Shahada News Agency took responsibility for the attack and claimed that it killed 30 people. Local media estimated between three and 20 casualties.[5]
  • The Somali National Army (SNA) and Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) clashed with al Shabaab militants in Gedo region on January 2 and 3. Al Shabaab militants ambushed SNA forces near Yurkud village, northern Gedo on January 2, killing three troops. SNA and KDF forces recaptured Busar town, southern Gedo region from al Shabaab on January 3.[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants conducted assassination operations in Baidoa and Mogadishu. Militants unsuccessfully targeted the vehicle of Baidoa District Commissioner with a mine in Baidoa city, Bay region on December 31. Gunmen killed a SNA colonel in his residence in Mogadishu on January 3.[7]
  • The presidents of Puntland and Galmudug semi-autonomous regions agreed to a ceasefire following talks in Mogadishu on January 2. The two regions are engaged in conflict over control of Galkayo city in Mudug region. This agreement marks the third ceasefire agreement between the two parties in the past year.[8]



[1] Ali Abdullah Saleh, Facebook, December 31, 2016,
[2] AQAP claims attacks on al Hizam forces in Abyan, Telegram, January 3, 2017; “(Betrayal) failed raid of the al Hizam in Abyan and the death of three,” Aden Tomorrow, January 3, 2017,; and “Source: clashes in front of the gate Razi hospital between soldiers from the al Hizam left wounded,” Aden Tomorrow, January 3, 2017,
[3] “Arab coalition strikes kill Houthi chiefs in Yemen,” al Arabiya, January 3, 2017,; and “Yemeni army, resistance forces advance in Sa’ada,” al Arabiya, January 2, 2017,
[4] “Air strikes kill 6 in Yemen's Saada,” Business Standard, January 3, 2017,; “Arab coalition strikes kill Houthi chiefs in Yemen,” al Arabiya, January 3, 2017,; and “In a letter to President Hadi: 19th brigade and southern resistance in Bayhan need support with logistics, ammunition quickly,” Aden Tomorrow, January 3, 2017,; and “For the second time.. Government forces repel attack for the Houthis in Shabwah and coalition intensifies airstrikes,” al Masdar, January 2, 2017,
[5] “Suicide Car Bomb Kills 3 Outside Somalia’s Mogadishu Airport,” NBC News, January 2,, 2017,; “Shabaab Claims twin suicide bombing at peace hotel in Mogadishu, Executing Jubaland Consultant,” SITE, January 2, 2017,; “Shabaab reports 30 killed, 44 wounded in twin suicide bombing at Peace Hotel in Mogadishu, SITE, January 2, 2017,; and “UPDATED: Death toll in Mogadishu blast rises to 15; dozens wounded,” Shabelle News, January 2, 2017,
[6] “SNA, KDF engage Al-Shabaab in deadly gunfight,” Shabelle News, January 3, 2017,; and “three soldiers killed in Al shabaab ambush in Gedo,” Shabelle News, January 2, 2017,
[7] “SNA colonel killed in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, January 3, 2017,; and “Baidoa district commissioner escapes assassination attempt,” Goobjoog, December 31, 2016,
[8] “Ceasefire deal between rival states inked in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, January 2, 2017,
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