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: Iran likely smuggling weapons to Yemen via Somalia; ISIS claims attack on al Houthi-Saleh forces in western al Bayda governorate; popular resistance forces dismantle suspected AQAP VBIED in southern Lahij governorate; UN Special Envoy calls al Houthi-Saleh government an obstacle to peace talks; Hadi government and allied forces attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces clash with Hadi government and allied forces in central Yemen; southern Yemeni activists call for independence on South Yemen anniversary

Horn of Africa: Kenyan security forces interdict al Shabaab attack targeting passenger vehicles in Mandera County, Kenya; Somali police neutralize suspected al Shabaab IEDs in Beledweyne, Hiraan region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Iran may be using Somalia as a pipeline to smuggle weapons to Yemen, according to a November 30 Conflict Armament Research (CAR) report. CAR analyzed weapons seized by the U.S., France, and Australia, many of which were transported on Iranian-made ships en route to Somalia, and found weapons with Iranian markings. Many of the intercepted weapons had markings similar to armaments previously found in Yemen, indicating that the intercepted weapons were likely destined for Yemen. CAR also determined that some of the intercepted weapons were of Russian and North Korean origin.[1]
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to attack al Houthi-Saleh forces near Qifa village, western al Bayda governorate on November 28. ISIS also distributed images of its militants firing vehicle-mounted artillery and small arms at al Houthi-Saleh forces on social media. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed to attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa on November 27.[2] 
  • Security forces dismantled a suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in al Hawta area, southern Lahij governorate on November 30. Security forces dismantled an IED in al Dawla mosque in the same area on November 5.[3]
  • UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed criticized the al Houthi-Saleh alliance’s newly formed government as an obstacle to peace negotiations on November 30. The al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council (SPC) formed a “National Salvation Government” in Sana’a on November 28. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that the newly formed government contradicts statements made by the al Houthi-Saleh faction during negotiations that set a roadmap for peace talks in mid-November. Ould Cheikh Ahmed reiterated his call for Yemeni parties to commit to a cessation of hostilities. Al Houthi movement leader Abdel Malik al Houthi commended the SPC for the formation of a government to address governance failures and popular grievances in Yemen. Al Houthi also encouraged supporters to participate in demonstrations in support of the newly formed government. President Hadi’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghir, criticized the al Houthi-Saleh government a as a “counterproductive political firewall” that will derail peace efforts and exacerbate Yemen’s political and humanitarian crisis. Bin Daghir also accused the al Houthi-Saleh faction of blocking a transfer of funds from Sana’a to the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) in Aden on November 29.[4]
  • Forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces in northern Yemen on November 30. The Saudi-led coalition provided air support. Hadi government and popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces along high conflict fronts in Midi and Haradh areas, eastern Hajjah governorate on November 30. Coalition warplanes destroyed al Houthi-Saleh technicals with Katyusha rocket launch pads in Midi area, Hajjah governorate. Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Maslub district, southern al Jawf governorate on November 30. Hadi government forces claimed to repel the attack.[5]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces clashed with Hadi government and popular resistance forces in central Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Hadi government and popular resistance forces in al Wazi'iyah district, southern Taiz governorate on November 29. Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in al Dhabab, western Taiz city on November 29. Hadi government and popular resistance forces claimed to repel al Houthi-Saleh attacks in southwestern Taiz city on November 30. Hadi government and popular resistance forces claimed to kill 16 al Houthi-Saleh forces in neighboring Maris, al Dhaleh governorate, west of Taiz, on November 29. Hadi government forces shelled al A’arfaf area, northern al Dhaleh on November 30, according to an al Houthi-affiliated news outlet.[6]
  • Thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in Aden to celebrate the 49th anniversary of South Yemen’s independence from Great Britain on November 30. Southern activists used the occasion to call for southern Yemen’s independence. Southern political actors have garnered support for an independent South Yemen amidst the protracted civil war, ongoing humanitarian crisis, and absent government services.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan security forces interdicted an al Shabaab attack on passenger vehicles near El Wak in Mandera County, Kenya on November 29. A security forces vehicle absorbed the blast of an al Shabaab improvised explosive device (IED) likely intended for a passenger bus. The blast did not cause any casualties. The al Shabaab militants positioned on the side of the road abandoned their weapons and fled their positions following the attempted attack.[8]
  • Somali police forces located and neutralized multiple IEDs in Beledweyne in Hiraan region on November 29. Al Shabaab militants frequently ambush AMISOM convoys near Beledweyne where Djiboutian forces operate an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base.[9]
[1] “Report points to Iran arms 'pipeline' to Yemen,” Yahoo, November 30, 2016,; and “How Iranian weapons are ending up in Yemen,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2016,
[2] ISIS Wilayat al Bayda shares images of its forces attacking al Houthi-Saleh forces in Qifa on ISIS-affiliated blog, November 29, 2016.
[3] “On the morning of the independence anniversary.. Dismantle bomb in al Hawta area, Lahij,” Aden Times, November 30, 2016,
[4] Tom Miles, Katie Paul, and Ali Abdelatti, “Formation of new Houthi government does not help Yemen: U.N. envoy,” Reuters, November 29, 2016,; “Leader sends salutations for 49th British Evacuation anniversary in Yemen and calls supporters to demonstrate in support of the government and to condemn the aggression,” November 29, 2016,; and “Prime Minister: Sana’a government undermines peace efforts and deepens the wounds of society,” Aden Times, November 30, 2016,   
[5] “40 Houthi killed in Midi,” Barakish, November 30, 2016,, “Killing 56 Shi'ite militias in three Yemeni provinces,” Aden Tomorrow, November 30, 2016,; and “The deaths of three of the mercenaries aggression in the al Matan district al Jawf,” al Masirah, November 30, 2016,
[6] “Army artillery and committees aimed at a gathering of mercenaries west al Waza’ayah in Taiz,” November 30, 2016,; “Aggression mercenaries were shelling the al A’arfaf area with tanks in al Dhaleh,” al Masirah, November 30, 2016,; “16 Houthis killed and two resistance after renewed fighting in the northern al Dhaleh,” al Masdar, November 29, 2016,; and “Government forces repel nighttime attacks from the Houthis on military sites east and west of the city of Taiz,” al Masdar, November 30, 2016,
[7] “Rally for Independence on anniversary of South Yemen Nov 30 1967 Independence Day,” Southern Hirak, November 30, 2016,
[8] “Police survive Al-Shabaab road attack in Mandera,” Shabelle News, November 30, 2016,
[9] “Police defuse landmines in central Somalia,” Goobjoog News, November 30, 2016,  
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