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 media issues conflicting reports on a failed IED attack in Hadramawt; AQAP detonates two separate IEDs targeting STC-backed forces in Abyan; the Houthis prepare for renewed fighting in Hudaydah; likely Houthi militants assassinated a tribal leader from Dhamar

Somalia: SFG and al Shabaab deny reports of negotiations; Somali forces attack a large gathering of al Shabaab militants in south-central Somalia; al Shabaab attacks a village in central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief:

Southern Yemeni media claimed that 1st Military Region personnel attempted to set an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting UAE-backed Hadrami Elite Forces in Seiyun, Hadramawt governorate, Yemen, on January 8.[i] Al Mahra Post claimed that the person who planted the IED was “associated” with the Southern Transitional Council (STC).[ii] Al Mahra Post identified the bomber as Waddah al Haj al Yafi from the Wadi Security Supply Department. The individual accidentally detonated the IED, killing himself.

Likely al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters detonated two separate IEDs targeting STC-backed forces in Wadi Amran, Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on January 7.[iii] One IED targeted an al Hizam Security Forces patrol, while the second IED targeted a water tanker. The explosions killed at least seven al Hizam Security Forces soldiers and wounded eight more.

The Houthis are conscripting locals and redeploying key systems to Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen. Unspecified Yemeni military sources said that the Houthis dispatched “heavily armed” reinforcements to central Hudaydah on January 7.[iv] Local sources added that the Houthis forcibly conscripted 20 out of every 500 civilians, including children, in Bayt al Faqih, al Durayhimi, and al Jah, Hudaydah governorate. Yemeni media outlet al Mashhad al Yemeni also reported on January 8 that the Houthis built military communications towers and deployed ballistic missile launchers and drones to Hudaydah governorate.[v]

Likely Houthi militants assassinated a tribal leader from Dhamar governorate at his home in Sana’a, northern Yemen, on January 9.[vi]

Somalia Security Brief:

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) and al Shabaab separately denied reports that al Shabaab had reached out to the SFG for negotiations.[vii] The Somali deputy defense minister claimed that al Shabaab attempted to open negotiations with the SFG during a January 7 press conference discussing military operations in central Somalia.[viii]

Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces attacked a gathering of al Shabaab fighters near Hawadley, Bal’ad district, Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, on January 8.[ix] NISA soldiers and drone support from “international partners” killed 61 militants and destroyed two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. Somali officials claimed al Shabaab was staging an attack on a Somali National Army base in Hawadley. Al Shabaab has successfully used four VBIEDs in central Somalia since January 4, including two in a complex attack on a military base in the Galgadud region.[x]

Al Shabaab attacked Duduna’ad village, Beledweyne district, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on January 9.[xi] Local Ma’awisley defended the village after finding out al Shabaab was heading to the village to burn down a well. Al Shabaab previously claimed to overrun local militia in Duduna’ad on January 4.[xii]

[i] Aden Time, “Sources Reveal the Details of the Explosion in Wadi Hadramawt,” January 8, 2023,

[ii] Al Mahra Post, “A Soldier Associated with the Leadership of the Transitional Council was Killed While Planting an Explosive Device Near a Camp in Wadi Hadramawt,” January 8, 2023,

[iii] Mareb Press, “Dead and Wounded in Explosions Targeting al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan Governorate,” January 7, 2023,  

[iv] 4May, “al Houthi Intensifies Compulsory Recruitment in Hudaydah,” January 7, 2023,

[v] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Re-installation of military communications towers and dangerous movements of the Houthi militia,” January 8, 2023,

[vi] Ali al Sakani, Twitter, January 9, 2023,

[vii] Harun Maruf, “Somali Government, Al-Shabab Deny Peace Talks,” Voice of America, January 7, 2023,

[viii] Koofiro Koonfuroow, @Ikoofiro, Twitter, January 7, 2023,; Omar Faruk, “Somalia claims al-Shabab extremists seek talks for 1st time,” Associated Press, January 7, 2023,

[ix] Radio Dalsan, “The Somali government said it had killed al Shabaab fighters in an operation,” January 9, 2023,

[x] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 4, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 4, 2023,; Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 6, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 6, 2023,

[xi] Guuleed Muuse, “Heavy fighting resulted from an attempt by Al-Shabaab in Hiran,” Caasimada, January 9, 2023,

[xii] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 4, 2023.”

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