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: UAE sends Colombian mercenaries to Yemen; UN accuses al Houthis of obstructing aid delivery to Taiz; coalition-backed forces advance in al Misrakh as fighting continues in Taiz city; coalition-backed forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh militias in western Ma’rib governorate; clashes between popular resistance and al Houthi-Saleh forces continue in western al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: IED blasts hit AMISOM convoy in Marko, Lower Shabelle region; SNA and AMISOM forces arrest over 300 al Shabaab suspects in Mogadishu, Banadir region; SNA forces arrest 20 al Shabaab suspects in Bulo-Burde, Hiraan region; al Shabaab militants clash with civilians in Mahas district, Hiraan region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The New York Times reported that the United Arab Emirates sent 450 Latin American troops, predominately Colombian mercenaries, to Yemen last month. Additional Colombian troops remain in the UAE and are completing training with grenade launchers and armored vehicles, which are currently operated by Emirati troops in Yemen.  The Latin American troops in Yemen have not yet entered combat. A recent UN report claimed that 400 Eritrean soldiers are also embedded with Emirati troops in Yemen, in potential violation of UN restrictions on Eritrean military actions.[1]
  • UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien accused the al Houthis of blocking supply routes and obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid to approximately 200,000 civilians in Taiz city in central Yemen. O’Brien emphasized the urgent need for drinking water and medical supplies in Yemen’s third largest city and called for all parties to cooperate with the UN and other humanitarian organizations.[2]
  • Coalition-backed Yemeni army and popular resistance forces seized strategic sites on a plateau in al Misrakh district, south of Taiz city in central Yemen on November 24. Fighting continued between coalition-backed popular resistance forces and al Houthi-Saleh forces throughout Taiz city on November 25 with clashes in Najd Qosim, southern Taiz city, near ‘Usayfarah in northern Taiz city, and in al Dhabab west of the city.[3]
  • Popular resistance and Yemeni army forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh militias near Mas and al Makhadarah, western Ma’rib governorate in central Yemen on November 24. Coalition airstrikes targeted an al Houthi-Saleh weapons cache in the area.[4]
  • Popular resistance forces drove al Houthi forces out of sites near the Ibb-al Dhaleh border in Qa’atabah district, al Dhaleh governorate in central Yemen on November 25. Popular resistance forces also shelled al Houthis in nearby Naqil al Khoshbah, Ibb governorate, and al Houthi-Saleh forces sent weapons and armored vehicles to Maris in northern al Dhaleh governorate.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy detonated on November 25 in Marko, Lower Shabelle region. AMISOM forces reportedly opened fire on nearby civilians after the blasts, inflicting an unspecified number of casualties. AMISOM casualties from the incident remain unknown. No one has claimed credit for the attack, but the target suggests al Shabaab.[6]
  • Joint Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM forces conducted security operations on November 25 in Mogadishu, Banadir region. The operations took place in Mogadishu’s Hiilwaa and Yaqshiid districts, where security forces conducted house-to-house raids and vehicle inspections in search of suspected al Shabaab members. Over 300 suspects were arrested in the ongoing operations.[7]
  • SNA forces conducted security operations on November 25 in Bulo-Burde, Hiraan region. The security forces conducted house-to-house raids throughout the city and arrested at least 20 suspected al Shabaab members.[8]
  • Al Shabaab militants clashed with civilians on November 25 in two villages in Mahas district, Hiraan region. The militants approached residents of Qandho and Tardo villages and demanded livestock. The villagers refused and clashes ensued, killing seven and injuring nine. The villagers drove the militants away from the settlements, and SNA forces were summoned to protect the settlements from future attacks.[9] 
[1] “Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen,” New York Times, November 25, 2015. Available:
[2] “U.N. accuses Houthis of blocking supply routes to Yemen’s Taiz city,” Reuters, November 25, 2015. Available:
[3] “The national army and the resistance liberate sites in al Misrakh district in Taiz after violent clashes,” Al Masdar, November 24, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“Coalition strikes on al Houthi sites in al Srari and violent clashes in al Dhabab,” Al Masdar, November 25, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[4] “Clashes in Mas and al Makhadarah in Ma'rib result in al Houthi casualties,” Al Masdar, November 25, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[5] “Qa'atabah resistance seizes al Houthi sites in al Awwad,” Barakish, November 25, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
“The militias reinforce their forces in an attempt to seize Maris,” Aden Ghad, November 25, 2015. [Arabic] Available:
[6] “Somalia: AMISOM convoy targeted in twin bombs in Marko town,” Shabelle News, November 25, 2015. Available:
[7] “Swoop by joint forces nets close to 300 suspects in Mogadishu,” Wacaal Media, November 25, 2015. Available:
“AMISOM and government soldiers launch operations in Hilwaa and Yaqshiid district,” Goobjoog News, November 25, 2015. Available:
[8] “At least 20 al Shabaab suspects arrested in Bulo-Burde security operation,” Shabelle News, November 25, 2015. Available:
[9] “Somalia: Confrontation between Al Shabaab fighters and nomadic people.” Radio Dalsan, November 25, 2015. Available:
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