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: ISIS militants assassinate security officer in Aden city; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed counterterrorism forces in Hadramawt governorate; Hadi government forces plan to seize territory surrounding the Bab al Mandeb strait; Hadi government and popular resistance forces seize al Houthi-Saleh anti-aircraft site in north of Taiz city; UN opens humanitarian aid distribution office in Aden

Horn of Africa: Jubbaland security forces drive al Shabaab from Berhani town, Lower Jubba region with international support; al Shabaab targets security forces and clashes with local militias near KM50, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Aden-Abyan published stills from a video showing the assassination of Aden airport security officer Colonel Abdul Rahim al Dhala'i in al Mansoura district, Aden city on November 22. ISIS militants killed Colonel al Dhala'i with a silenced pistol, a method commonly used by ISIS militants in Yemen. ISIS last assassinated a Yemeni Political Security Officer with a silenced pistol in al Mansoura district, Aden city on September 30.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked a Hadhrami Elite Force checkpoint in Ras Huwayrah area, Ghayl Bawazir district, Hadramawt governorate on November 21. The checkpoint is less than 100 km northwest of Mukalla city, a former AQAP stronghold. AQAP forces clashed with Hadhrami forces in western al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate on November 8.[2]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi are preparing for an operation to seize territory surrounding the Bab al Mandeb Strait, according to a Hadi government military source. Al Houthi-Saleh forces control the western coast of Taiz governorate bordering the Bab al Mandeb, through which roughly 40 percent of the world’s oil transported by sea passes. Hadi government and allied forces control Lahij governorate, which borders Taiz to the south. Hadi government and allied forces clash frequently with al Houthi-Saleh forces along the Taiz-Lahij border in the northeastern Kirsh district and the southwestern Kahboub district. The Fourth Military District commander, whose area of responsibility includes Taiz governorate, arrived in Kahboub on November 22. Al Houthi-Saleh forces last attacked Hadi government forces in Kahboub on November 4.[3]
  • Hadi government and popular resistance forces seized an al Houthi-Saleh anti-aircraft site in a mountain range north of Taiz city on November 22. Hadi government and allied forces also claimed to repel an al Houthi-Saleh attack on western Taiz city on November 22. Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck multiple al Houthi-Saleh positions in Taiz city on November 22. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 200 people were wounded in Taiz city between November 20 and 22.[4]
  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Assistant Secretary-General Rashid Khalikov announced the UN will open an humanitarian office in Aden and called on the Hadi government to facilitate the disbursement of humanitarian aid to Yemeni governorates. The ceasefire on November 19 did not allow much-needed humanitarian aid to reach besieged areas in Yemen. Hostilities in Taiz city prevented 18 World Food Programme (WFP) trucks from entering the city on November 20, according to local sources. Insufficient medical treatment, clean water, and food are exacerbating a  widespread humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Cases of malnutrition and cholera continue to rise throughout the country, especially in conflict areas.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Jubbaland security forces drove al Shabaab militants from Berhani village, Lower Jubba region on November 21. Ethiopian and American forces may have assisted the Somali soldiers in the raid. The Jubbaland forces destroyed homes used by al Shabaab commanders. Al Shabaab has maintained a presence in Berhani village despite multiple counterterrorism raids and airstrikes in 2016. General Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, noted the increasing role played by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Somalia in a November 2016 interview.[6]
  • Local militias clashed with al Shabaab forces near KM50 area in Lower Shabelle region on November 22. The firefight led to casualties on both sides. Al Shabaab militants also ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) forces in KM50 on November 21. Al Shabaab militants conducted an attack on an AMISOM base in nearby KM60 on November 17. Security forces have attempted to limit al Shabaab’s movement in the area and claimed to kill 12 al Shabaab militants  during an ambush in KM50 on November 14.[7]


[1] “IS Division in Yemen Publishes Photos of Assassinating Security Officer in Aden,” SITE, November 22, 2016, available by subscription at
[2] Twitter, Demolinari, November 21, 2016,
[3] “Preparations for the operation to liberate Bab al Mandab,” Aden Tomorrow, November 22, 2016,
[4] “Sharabi: Army controls the air defense sites in Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, November 22, 2016,; “Coalition warplanes intensify raids on Taiz, Hajjah,” November 22, 2016, Aden Tomorrow,; “A military source: Government forces repel a violent attack Houthi west of Taiz,” Aden Tomorrow, November 22, 2016,; and Stephanie Nebehay, “Intense fighting traps Yemenis in Taiz, bodies in streets - ICRC,” Reuters, November 22, 2016,
[5] “Bin Daghir met with the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs,” Barakish, November 22, 2016,; and “Yemen Rebels prevent food aid from reaching besieged city,” ABC News, November 20, 2016,; and “Yemen: Cholera Outbreak Weekly AWD/Cholera Situation Report 10 – 17 November 2016,” Relief Web, November 17, 2016,      
[6] “Foreign forces attack Al Shabaab base in Somalia,” Shabelle News, November 21, 2016,; and “US forces in Somalia take on more risk as advisory mission expands,” Stars and Stripes, November 21, 2016,
[7] “Al Shabaab clashes with local militia in Somalia,” Shabelle News, November 22, 2016,; and “BREAKING: Heavy fighting erupts at KM-50 area,” Shabelle News, November 21, 2016,  
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