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: Saudi-led coalition forces assume responsibility for security in ports in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen; the Transitional Political Council of the South inaugurates local leadership in two southern governorates; ISIS damages an al Houthi-Saleh armored vehicle in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen

Horn of Africa: SNA forces arrest nine senior al Shabaab officials in the Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia; al Shabaab attacks a SNA base outside Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition forces assumed responsibility for security of al Ghaydah’s primary seaport and airport in al Mahrah governorate, eastern Yemen on November 15. The 137th Yemeni Army Armored Brigade, stationed in al Mahrah, initially prevented coalition forces from entering the ports on November 13. The 137th forces allowed coalition forces to enter the ports after receiving approval from the Mahri security committee and tribal leaders on the conditions that the airport not be used as a military base, Mahri officials maintain jurisdiction over the ports, and the coalition coordinates all of its activities with local officials. Overland smuggling through Oman and eastern Yemen is one of the primary routes Iran uses to supply al Houthi-Saleh forces.[1] 

President of the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) Aydarus al Zubaydi announced the inauguration of the STC’s local leadership in Lahij and al Dhaleh governorates during a festival in al Hawta city, Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on November 16. Al Zubaydi stated that the era of northern political domination over the south is over. The STC inaugurated five other governorates since announcing the formation of a southern National Assembly on October 14 and plans to open an office in Abyan in the near-term.[2]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed its militants damaged an al Houthi-Saleh armored vehicle in Jabal Jamida area, Wald Rabi’ district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on November 15. U.S. forces bombed ISIS militants three times in al Bayda governorate since mid-October.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) forces detained nine al Shabaab senior officials in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on November 16. The forces arrested al Shabaab’s emir of Afgoi, the head of finance, four Amniyat agents, and two vehicle-borne improvised explosive (VBIED) technicians. Amniyat is al Shabaab’s intelligence and assassination division. Al Shabaab builds VBIEDs and conducts attacks on Mogadishu from its support zones around Afgoi, 15 miles north of Mogadishu.[4] 

Al Shabaab militants attempted to seize a SNA base on November 16 along the Afgoi-Mogadishu highway in the Hawa Abdi area, Lower Shabelle region, four miles north of Mogadishu, Somalia. Al Shabaab used heavy machine guns and RPGs to attack the base. SNA forces from Mogadishu reinforced the base to repel the attack. Al Shabaab rarely attempts to capture SNA bases near Mogadishu since it lost control of the capital in 2011.[5]

[1] “137th Armored Brigade surrenders its positions at airport and cargo port to the Arab Alliance,” Al Yemen Today, November 15, 2017,; “The Elite refuse Saudi alliance attempt to impose its influence,” Al Sharq, November 16, 2017,; “The commander of the 137 armored brigade rejects the orders of the coalition to hand over the port and airport of al Ghaydah, al Mahrah to the Second Military Region,” Al Omanaa, November 13, 2017,; “The security committee in al Mahrah is the source of many clues about the arrival of security forces in the governorate,” Al Mahrah News, November 14, 2017,; “Saudi-led coalition forces enter airport and in al Mahrah,” Bawabatii, November 15, 2017,; “Saudi-led coalition controls ports in al Mahrah,” Yemen Window, November 15, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 15, 2017,
[2] “Hundreds celebrate Southern Transitional Council in festival in Lahij,” Aden Tomorrow, November 16, 2017,; “Increased security in preparation for the Southern Transitional Council’s festival,” Aden Tomorrow, November 16, 2017,; “Al Zubaydi approves inauguration of Lahij, al Dhaleh, and soon Abyan,” Political Transitional Council of the South in Aden, November 14, 2017,; “Al Zubaydi discusses tour of southern Yemen,” Political Transitional Council of the South, November 16, 2017,; and “Al Zubaydi’s speech during inauguration of Lahij and Dhaleh governorates,” Aden Lang, November 16, 2017,
[3] Demolinari, Twitter, November 16, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 16, 2017,
[4] Garowe Online, Twitter, November 16, 2017,; and Abdirahman Omar Osman, Facebook, November 16, 2017,
[5] “Militants attack military base outside Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, November 26, 2017,

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