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 warplanes to continue support for Hadi government operations; ISIS militants clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa area, western al Bayda governorate; HRW reports on arbitrary detentions and prisoner mistreatment by al Houthi-Saleh forces; Hadi government and allied forces seize territory in eastern Taiz

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack SNA and local security forces in Muri village, Lower Shabelle region; tensions remain high between Puntland and Galmudug Security forces in Galkayo, Mudug region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri stated that coalition warplanes will continue to support operations by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government until the Hadi government requests a ceasefire. The Hadi government was excluded from negotiations between the Saudi-led coalition and the al Houthi-Saleh alliance that resulted in the November 17 ceasefire.[1]
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda shared images of its fighters attacking al Houthi-Saleh forces in the Qifa area, western al Bayda governorate on November 16. ISIS last claimed to repel al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa on October 13 and November 4. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released several statements since October 13 downplaying ISIS’s presence in al Bayda.[2]
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on November 17 that al Houthi-Saleh forces have conducted 61 arbitrary or abusive detentions. Al Houthi-Saleh forces typically arrest Yemenis affiliated with Islah, a Salafi political party. They have also detained many students, journalists, activists, and members of Yemen’s minority Baha’i faith without charges. The al Houthi-Saleh alliance has detained and “disappeared” 2,500 Yemenis, according to a Yemeni lawyer who provides legal representation to detainees. HRW reported the mistreatment of prisoners in all detention facilities included in the study.[3]
  • Hadi government and allied forces continue to seize territory in eastern Taiz city, central Yemen on November 17 and 18. A Hadi government field commander claimed his forces killed 17 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in eastern Taiz city. Doctors Without Borders officials reported that its hospitals received a total of 21 dead and 76 wounded Yemenis from Taiz city on November 17. A shell struck a market in central Taiz, killing more than 20 civilians, including a Doctors Without Borders employee, on November 17. Hadi government forces and al Houthi-Saleh forces accused each other of striking the market.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a series of attacks on civilian and military targets in Lower Shabelle region on November 18. Militants attacked Somali National Army (SNA) and Southwest State security positions in Muri village near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region. Militants also destroyed civilian homes and attacked Somali security forces in Bufow village, Lower Shabelle region.[5]
  • Tensions remain high between Puntland and Galmudug security forces in Galkayo town, Mudug region. Local elders, the UAE, and the UN Special Envoy to Somalia have brokered ceasefires that have each failed since fighting broke out on October 7. Puntland and Galmudug both lay claim to contested areas in northern Somalia.[6]
[1] “More than 50 dead in heavy Yemen fighting after peace moves falter,” Middle East Eye, November 17, 2016,
[2] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda shared images on social media of its forces fighting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa, al Bayda, Twitter, November 16, 2016. Sources available upon request.
[3] “Yemen: Abusive Detention Rife Under Houthis,” HRW, November 17, 2016,
[4] National Army controls the strategic city east of Taiz,” Barakish, November 18, 2016,; “Government forces surrounded the rebels east of Taiz, killing 17 militants and five members of the resistance,” al Masdar, November 17, 2016,; “Yemen: 76 wounded and at least 21 dead in Taiz on the first day of the newly announced ceasefire,” MSF, November 18, 2016,; and “The high number of victims of the massacre Softail market in the city of Taiz,” al Masirah, November 17, 2016,    
[5] “Al Shabaab attacks army bases near Afgoye district,” Shabelle News, November 18, 2016,
[6] “Plans to evacuate fighting forces from Galkaayo at standstill,” Goobjoog News, November 18, 2016,  
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