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: UK foreign secretary calls for investigations into Saudi airstrikes in Yemen; Emirati reinforcements arrive in Aden; AQAP releases two videos detailing combat with al Houthis

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attempts to assassinate South West State president near Mogadishu, Banadir region; al Shabaab infighting occurs in Sakow, Middle Jubba region; SNA officials claim executed soldiers displayed by al Shabaab were defectors; al Shabaab kills SNA official in Mogadishu; NGO releases report accusing KDF forces of involvement in illegal sugar smuggling operations in Kismayo.

Yemen Security Brief

  • UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond called for “proper investigations” into Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen in a November 11 BBC interview. The UK is one of the chief exporters of arms to Saudi Arabia. Hammond acknowledged that Britain would like to continue its arms partnership with Saudi Arabia, but only if Saudi Arabia complies with international humanitarian law.[1]
  • A large Emirati force arrived in Aden on November 12, joining the Saudi-led coalition and allied Yemeni popular resistance forces. The Emirati force included substantial numbers of infantrymen as well as amphibious vehicles and mine-resistant vehicles. These reinforcements come two days after a contingent of Sudanese soldiers arrived in Aden. Emirati troops will secure Ma’shiq Palace in Aden for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s return to the city, according to reports. [2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video on its Twitter account on November 9, documenting an assault on al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen that included the capture of al Houthis militants. AQAP released another video on November 10 documenting clashes with al Houthi forces in Taiz city in central Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate the president of Somalia’s South West State, Sharif Hassan Sheikh, on November 11 as he traveled along the outskirts of Mogadishu, Banadir region. Militants initially launched a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on Sheikh’s convoy in Bood-Boodka town. Later, militants detonated a landmine near the convoy in Alamada town. Sheikh was not harmed in either attack. Al Shabaab claimed to kill 20 soldiers in the attacks, but government sources stated that the only casualties were civilians.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a pro-Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) camp on November 11 in Sakow, Middle Jubba region. The clash killed nine, including a commander of the pro-ISIS cell, and wounded eight. This attack follows a prominent al Shabaab spokesperson’s recent proclamation that al Shabaab is the only “legitimate” militant organization in East Africa.[5]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) officials released a statement refuting al Shabaab’s claimed killing of six SNA soldiers in a photoset released on October 30. The photos showed the corpses of six individuals dressed in SNA uniforms that al Shabaab claimed to have killed in an ambush near Elbur town, Galgudud region. SNA officials now claim that the six victims were SNA soldiers with prior ties to al Shabaab who defected to rejoin the group, at which point they were executed and their corpses displayed.[6]
  • Al Shabaab gunmen killed an SNA official on November 11 in Mogadishu, Banadir region. Gunmen intercepted and shot the official in Mogadishu’s Hodan district as he was traveling home from work.  Pro-al Shabaab websites later publicized the militant group’s claim of credit for the attack.[7] 
  • Journalists for Justice, a Kenyan-based non-governmental organization (NGO), released a report on November 11 accusing Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) in Somalia of participating in illegal sugar smuggling operations. Al Shabaab is known to smuggle sugar into Kenya. The NGO’s report states that a large number of Kenyan military officials station in Lower Jubba region’s Kismayo city are taxing the illegal revenues, making a collective profit of around $13 million USD annually. Kenyan officials denied the NGO’s accusations, saying that no military officials are involved with the smuggling networks.[8] 

[1] “Saudi arms ‘investigation’ needed, says Philip Hammond,” BBC, November 11, 2015. Available:
[2] “Emirati troops will protect Mashiq palace in preparation for the return of President Hadi,” Adenghad, November 12, 2015. Available:
Mohammed Basha, Twitter, November 12, 2015. Available:
[3] “AQAP video shows clashes with al Houthis in Taiz,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 11, 2015. Available:
“AQAP video shows attacks on Houthi positions in al-Bayda’, taking of Houthi captives,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 9, 2015. Available:
[4] “South West State leader escapes unhurt after car bomb attack on his convoy,” Shabelle News, November 11, 2015. Available:
“South West State denies Al Shabaab claims of killing 20 soldiers in car bomb attack,” Shabelle News, November 12, 2015. Available:
“Shariif Hassan survives double attack on his way to Mogadishu,” Wacaal Media, November 12, 2015. Available:
[5] “Somalia: Fight between rival al Shabaab factions kill 9,” Voice of America, November 11, 2015. Available: 
[6] “Govt soldiers defected to Al Shabaab killed by militants, says military,” Shabelle News, November 11, 2015. Available:
“Somali military: No Govt soldier was killed by Al Shabaab in Galgaduud region,” Shabelle News, October 30, 2015. Available:
[7] “Somali National army official killed in Mogadishu,” Wacaal Media, November 12, 2015. Available:
[8] “Report: Kenyan troops smuggling sugar from Somalia,” Associated Press, Available:
“Probe alleged smuggling involving KDF – Godec,” Capital FM, November 12, 2015. Available:
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