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: Iranian IRGC general states Iran may seek naval bases in Yemen and Syria; AQAP releases multiple propaganda pieces; AQAP claims attacks against security forces in central and southern Yemen; reported U.S. airstrike hits AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate; ISIS claims attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda; al Houthi-Saleh forces clash with Hadi government and popular resistance forces in central Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates SVBIED in Waberi district, Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants clash with local militiamen and Galmudug security forces near Harardhere town, Mudug region; warplanes strike al Shabaab training camp near Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab detonates IED outside Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; Somali presidential contest delayed to December 2016

Yemen Security Brief

  • Iran’s chief of its Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS), Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad al Bagheri announced that Iran may be seeking to establish naval bases in Yemen or Syria on November 27. Chairman of the al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council (SPC) Saleh Ali al Samad stated that no foreign power will ever ever be based in Yemen, “whether a friend or an enemy,” in direct response to Major al Bagheri’s statement. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered Russia access to air and naval bases to “combat terrorism” in Yemen on August 21.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)’s media outlet, al Malahem, released its fifth edition of its “Harvest of Spies” series on November 24. The video features five Yemenis accused of planting tracking devices on AQAP vehicles to guide U.S. airstrikes. The video claims that the “spies’” actions led to 22 deaths, including two children. AQAP also released the 31st issue of its al Masra newspaper on November 26. The newspaper provided updates on al Qaeda affiliates, covered recent significant regional news stories, and promoted al Qaeda’s efforts to provide abayas for women in Syria. The newspaper also criticized Saudi Arabia’s detainment of 13 women and summarized a New York Times article criticizing Trump’s appointment of Michael Flynn as national security advisor. An AQAP infographic disseminated on November 25 claimed that AQAP forces destroyed 13 al Hizam vehicles over a ten-day period. AQAP-affiliated telegram accounts also drew parallels between al Shabaab and AQAP respective operations following the November 27 announcement of expanded U.S. drone strikes in Somalia.[2]
  • AQAP militants targeted security forces in central and southern Yemen between November 23 and November 28. AQAP militants targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces along the Damt-Maris road in Ibb governorate on November 24 and 26. AQAP militants targeted al Hizam forces in northern Abyan governorate on November 23 and 28. AQAP claimed that the November 28 attack killed an al Hizam commander, local news sources reported that commander was a local popular resistance Salafi militia leader. AQAP militants also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Hadhrami Elite Forces along the road running east from al Mukalla city to al Riyan in southern Hadramawt governorate on November 25.[3]
  • A  reported U.S. airstrike killed two AQAP militants in al Sawmah district, al Bayda governorate on November 24. U.S. military personnel arrived at Aden’s Khormaksar hotel on November 25, according to local news outlets. The last reported U.S. airstrike also targeted AQAP militants in al Sawmah district on November 21. AQAP previously misreported the identity of the AQAP leader killed in the November 21 airstrike, claiming it was Abu Hammam al Ibbi.[4]
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda released images of ISIS militants attacking al Houthi-Saleh forces with mortars near Qifa village in western al Bayda governorate on November 27. ISIS militants last claimed to target al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda on November 16.[5]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi-allied popular resistance forces in central Yemen on November 28. Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched Katyusha rockets at popular resistance forces during clashes in al Sabra district, in eastern Ibb governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also targeted popular resistance forces in Hamk area, near the Ibb-Dhaleh borders. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to seize locations, less than 50 km from Hamk area, in Juban city, eastern Dhaleh governorate on November 7. Hadi government and popular resistance forces, supported by the Saudi-led coalition warplanes, repelled an Houthi-Saleh attack in al Dhabab area in western Taiz city.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) in the Waberi district of Mogadishu on November 26. The blast targeted a Somali National Army (SNA) vehicle, killing 10 individuals and wounding at least 15 others. The attack may have targeted Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was traveling in a government convoy to a nearby facility.[7]
  • Al Shabaab fighters clashed with local militias supported by Galmudug security forces in Dumaye area near Harardhere town in Mudug region on November 27 and 28. The fighting killed approximately 20 individuals. The fighting broke out over locals’ refusal to obey al Shabaab’s zakat, or tax collection policies.[8]
  • Warplanes struck an al Shabaab training camp in Dugulle area near Qoryooley in Lower Shabelle region on November 25. Somali Special Operations Forces (SOF), accompanied by foreign forces, raided the area following the strike. U.S. SOF frequently accompany Somali SOF during raids in Lower Shabelle.[9]
  • Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region on November 27. The blast targeted an SNA outpost located on a road connecting Jowhar and Mahaday towns. The attack killed multiple SNA soldiers.[10]
  • UN Special Envoy to Somalia Michael Keating announced Somalia’s presidential contest will likely occur in mid December. The presidential election was originally scheduled for August, but officials delayed the contest multiple times. Newly elected MPs to Somalia’s Upper and Lower Houses will select the president. Only one of Somalia’s six regional administrations has completed both Lower and Upper House elections.[11]
[1]“Iran may seek naval bases in Yemen or Syria: chief of staff,” Reuters, November 27, 2016,
[2]AQAP distributes “Harvest of Spies” and al Masra on social media, Telegram, November 24 and 26, 2016, source available upon request.
[3]AQAP claims attacks against Yemeni security forces, Telegram, November 23-28, 2016, source available upon request; and “Martyrdom of Salafi leader in a bomb explosion Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, November 28, 2016,
[4]“US aircraft bombed al Qaeda operatives in al Bayda,” Aden Lang, November 25, 2016,; “US military arrive in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, November 26, 2016,; and AQAP retracts martyrdom announcement of AQAP leader, Telegram November 24, 2016, source available upon request.
[5]ISIS blog shares images of mortar launches targeting al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa, al Bayda, Dawaal Haq, November 27, 2016, source available upon request.
[6]“Houthi missiles kill dozens of gunmen,” Aden Times, November 28, 2016,
[7]“Car bomb kills 10 people in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, November 26, 2016,; and “Photos: Death toll from market bombing rises to 7,” Shabelle News, November 26, 2016,
[8] “Over twenty people killed in clashes between Al-Shabaab and locals in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, November 28, 2016,; and “Nearly 20 people killed in central Somalia violence,” Shabelle News, November 28, 2016,
[9] “Suspected U.S. warplanes bomb Al Shabaab camps in Somalia,” Shabelle News, November 25, 2016,
[10] “Several soldiers killed in bomb blast at army base,” Shabelle News, November 27, 2016,
[11] “Presidential election likely on December 15-UN chief in Somalia,” Goobjoog News, November 26, 2016,; “Electoral body crosses midway mark as 145 MPs secure House seats,” Goobjoog News, November 24, 2016,; and “Southwest State to conclude elections in the next few days, electoral body says,” Goobjoog News, November 27, 2016,
View Citations
Arrow down red
Dec '16
Nov '16
Oct '16