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: Cyclone Chapala hits al Mukalla, Hadramawt; battle for Taiz governorate intensifies; clashes continue in Ibb, al Dhaleh, and al Bayda
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab ambushes SNA convoy in Waanbate, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab ambushes KDF convoy near Qoqaani, Lower Jubba region; suspected al Shabaab militants hijack civilian vehicle near Garbaharey, Gedo region
Yemen Security Brief
- Cyclone Chapala made landfall in al Mukalla, Hadramawt governorate on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast on November 3. The storm caused a blackout throughout the city and flooded large areas, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate. No casualties have been reported in al Mukalla. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) currently governs al Mukalla through a proxy group and may be ill-prepared to manage the storm’s aftermath. The storm also hit the coast of neighboring Shabwah governorate, causing authorities to lose contact with an Indian ship and 30 Yemeni shipping boats in the region.
- The battle for control of Taiz governorate continues to intensify following the mobilization of coalition-backed reinforcements and heavy weaponry from Aden to Taiz city on November 1. Coalition-backed anti-al Houthi forces clashed with pro-al Houthi militias west of Taiz city, and anti-al Houthi sources claimed that al Houthi militias withdrew from parts of the city following the arrival of artillery reinforcements. The al Houthis took control of a strategic roadway to the east of Taiz city, and pro-al Houthi forces shelled residential neighborhoods in Taiz city and the surrounding region. Coalition warplanes launched airstrikes on an al Houthi military base west of Taiz city on November 3. The escalation in Taiz likely reflects the combatants’ desire to secure strategic territory in the buildup to UN-led peace talks expected in mid-November.
- Clashes continued between pro- and anti-al Houthi forces in the central Yemeni governorates of Ibb, al Dhaleh, and al Bayda, located between Taiz and Sana’a. Pro-al Houthi militias shelled several villages in Hazm al ‘Udayn, Ibb governorate on November 2 following weeks of back-and-forth clashes with popular resistance forces in the region. Pro-al Houthi forces opened a new front in al Riyashiyah, northern al Dhaleh governorate after popular resistance forces stopped al Houthi advances in nearby Damt city. Coalition airstrikes targeted pro-al Houthi sites in ongoing conflict zones in Dhi Na’im, al Bayda governorate on November 2.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed trainees in a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy on November 2, in Waanbate, Lower Shabelle region. A SNA official stated that at least 15 soldiers were killed in the attack, and that al Shabaab was able to capture three military vehicles. Local administration officials also added that seven militants were killed in the clash.
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) convoy on November 3 as it was traveling between Qoqani and Tabta villages, both located in the Lower Jubba region. Local residents reported that the KDF forces were able to repulse the attack. Pro-al Shabaab media sources have since claimed that the group inflicted heavy casualties on the KDF forces, and killed several officers, although the claims have not been verified.
- Suspected al Shabaab gunmen hijacked a civilian vehicle on November 3 in Tulo-Barwaqo village, Gedo region. The gunmen opened fire on the vehicle, killing one occupant, before taking control of it and abducting the remaining passengers. Al Shabaab has yet to issue any comments on its alleged involvement in the incident.