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: AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in southern Abyan governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces retake territory in northwestern Shabwah governorate; Hadi government and popular resistance forces attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab VBIED targets UNDP headquarters in Mogadishu; al Shabaab attacks SNA and AMISOM forces near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; SNA and AMISOM forces retake Moro-Gabey village, Bakool province

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to seize two military vehicles from Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces during clashes near the Shaqra area, southern Abyan governorate on January 4. AQAP militants ambushed two al Hizam patrols that were attempting to secure Shaqra on January 3. Local news sources reported multiple al Hizam casualties from the two days of fighting.[1]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces regained territory in northwestern Shabwah governorate after launching a counterattack on forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi on January 4. Al Houthi-Saleh forces seized three different positions in Usaylan district, Shabwah governorate, according to a Hadi government military source. Hadi government and popular resistance forces renewed their offensive in northwestern Shabwah governorate on December 27.[2]
  • Hadi government forces claimed to advance multiple offensives in northern Yemen. Hadi government forces consolidated control of new territory near al Buqa’ area on January 4. Hadi government forces seized the al Houthi-Saleh 101st Brigade headquarters on January 1 and nearby strategic mountains on January 3. Hadi government and popular resistance forces attacked al Houthi-Saleh strongholds in central Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate on January 4. Hadi government forces also reported marginal battlefield successes in Nihm district, 100 kilometers northeast of Sana’a city. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to repel Hadi government forces in Nihm on January 4.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) inside the headquarters of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) next to the airport in Mogadishu on January 4. The militants used a UN vehicle to conceal the explosives. Al Shabaab targeted the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) headquarters and the Peace Hotel, also located next to the Mogadishu airport, on January 2. Mogadishu police arrested several suspect al Shabaab militants on January 4 in response to the attacks.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a security checkpoint near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region on January 4. Local media sources reported three Somali National Army (SNA) casualties and two al Shabaab casualties. Jowhar is the capital of Middle Shabelle region and is located on major road leading to Mogadishu.[5]
  • SNA troops backed by AMISOM forces recaptured Moro-Gabey village, Bakool region on January 3. Al Shabaab took control of Moro-Gabey and other villages in the Bakool region in response to an AMISOM offensive in late 2014 and early 2015.[6]


[1] AQAP claimed to seize two al Hizam vehicles in southern Abyan, Telegram, January 4, 2017; and “Yemen: open war with al Qaeda in Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, January 4, 2017,
[2] “Houthis regain control of the sites in Shabwa after a week from the control of government forces,” al Masdar, January 4, 2017,
[3] “Houthis killed in clashes in Ma’rib and Shabwa,” Aden Tomorrow, January 4, 2017,; and “Killing and wounding dozens of mercenaries to break advance parties in Nihm,” al Masirah, January 4, 2017,
[4] “Car Bomb outside UNDP HQ in Mogadishu kills 3,” Shabelle News, January 4, 2017,; “Three injured in UNDP office attack in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, January 4, 2017,; and “Police carry out sweep in Mogadishu in response to raids,” Shabelle News, January 4, 2017,
[5] “Al Shabaab raids security checkpoint near Jowhar,” Shabelle News, January 4, 2017,; and “Three killed in clash between Al-Shabaab and gov’t forces in Jowhar,” Goobjoog, January 4, 2017,
[6] “Somali, AU forces retake settlement near Hudur city,” Shabelle News, January 3, 2017,
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