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: AQAP shells al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate and Yemeni counterterrorism forces in Abyan governorate; AQAP disseminates propaganda video showcasing operations in central and southern Yemen; Yemeni counterterrorism forces raid AQAP stronghold near al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate; UK and Iran deploy warships to the Bab al Mandeb strait; al Houthi-Saleh forces advance on al Dhaleh governorate, central Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces target Saudi military positions in southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack regional security force checkpoint near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; suspected al Shabaab gunmen kill two SNA soldiers in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; election season continues in Somalia despite frequent delays

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-affiliated Telegram channels claimed attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces and southern Yemeni counterterrorism forces on November 9. AQAP-affiliated Ansar al Sharia militants fired mortars at al Houthi-Saleh forces in the Tiyab area of Dhi Na'im district, western al Bayda governorate. AQAP forces also fired mortars at Emirati-backed al Hizam forces in al Akad, Lawder district, northern Abyan governorate.[1]
  • AQAP’s media wing al Malahem Media distributed its sixth edition of its “Repulsion of Aggression” series on social media. The thirty-minute video highlights AQAP’s operations against al Houthi-Saleh forces and UAE-backed al Hizam forces. The video also criticizes U.S. and UAE counterterrorism operations. The video features AQAP recruits undergoing training and practicing coordinated maneuvers. AQAP-affiliated social media accounts are also using the U.S. election results to fuel al Qaeda’s rhetoric and recruiting.[2]
  • The Emirati-backed Hadrami Elite forces attacked al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Bahish grove near Mayfa’a Hajar town, southwest of al Mukalla city, on November 8. Saudi-led coalition warplanes supported the attack. Hadrami Elite forces raided the AQAP stronghold following intelligence reports indicating that AQAP militants were regrouping in al Bahish grove. The clash lasted almost one full day. The military source claimed that Hadrami forces killed more than 20 AQAP militants and suffered four casualties. Hadrami Elite forces also raided an AQAP stronghold in al Mukalla city on November 8. AQAP held al Mukalla city for one year until coalition-backed Yemeni forces retook the city in April 2016.[3]
  • Naval tensions in the Bab al Mandeb Strait continue to increase. The United Kingdom deployed the HMS Daring to the area to protect commercial interests. The HMS Daring is the most advanced missile destroyer in the British Royal Navy. Iranian Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari also announced that the Iranian Navy will begin escorting Iranian tankers through dangerous waters, including the Bab al Mandeb Strait.[4]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces attempted to seize positions in al Dhaleh governorate on November 7, according to local sources. Local sources claimed many al Houthi-Saleh forces and vehicles entered Jibn area in western al Dhaleh, which is adjacent to contested areas along the border between Taiz and Lahij governorates. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired three Katyusha rockets targeting forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi during clashes in southern Hayfan district on the Taiz-Lahij border on November 9.[5]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces attacked Saudi-led coalition positions in Jazan, Asir, and Najran regions in Saudi Arabia November 9. Al Houthi-Saleh forces conducted a complex attack targeting coalition positions in Jazan on November 9. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to have destroyed a coalition military vehicle and weapon storage unit during another complex attack in al Aish area, Najran region on November 9. Al Houthi-Saleh forces also shelled a coalition site in al Sayliyah area, Asir region on November 9.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Southwest State security force checkpoint near Afgoi in Lower Shabelle region on November 9. The militants killed one Southwest State soldier and wounded multiple others. Al Shabaab fighters conducted a complex attack on Afgoi on October 18.[7]
  • Suspected al Shabaab militants killed two Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in a village in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on November 8. Four gunmen opened fire on the soldiers before fleeing the area. Al Shabaab recently increased its presence in Hiraan region after Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces withdrew from the region.[8]
  • The newly formed HirShabelle State administration held Upper House elections in Jowhar on November 8. HirShabelle is the last regional administration expected to hold Upper House contests. Lower House contests are underway in Jubbaland and Southwest State. Lower House contests are expected to begin in HirShabelle this week. Both Lower and Upper House members will select Somalia’s president on November 30.[9]
[1] AQAP claims attacks against al Hizam forces and al Houthi-Saleh forces, Telegram, November 9, 2016, source available upon request.
[2] AQAP al Malahem media releases sixth edition of Repulsion of Aggression series, Telegram, November 9, 2016, source available upon request; and AQAP calls the election results a reflection of low American morals, Twitter, November 9, 2016, source available upon request.
[3] “Killing 20 militants in clashes between al Qaeda and government forces in al Bahish grove, Hadramawt,” al Masdar, November 8, 2016,; and “Yemeni govt troops kill 30 al Qaeda suspects in south Yemen,” November 9, 2016,  
[4] “Iranian Navy to escort tankers through Red Sea,” The Maritime Executive, November 8, 2016, ; “Britain Quietly Deploys Warship off the Coast of Yemen,” Asharq Al-Awsat, November 9, 2016, ; and “Tweet From Deborah Haynes,” Twitter, November 9, 2016,  
[5] “Houthis are opening a new front in Dhaleh,” Aden Times, November 7, 2016,; “Militias bombard residential villages with Katyushas in Hayfan,” Aden Times, November 9, 2016,; and “Two mercenaries from the aggression killed in sniper operation in Taiz and Nihm district,” November 9, 2016,   
[7] “Somalia: 2 killed in separate attacks near Afgoye district,” Shabelle News, November 9, 2016,
[8] “Two military officers gunned down in Beledweyne,” Goobjoog News, November 9, 2016,
[9] “Hirshabelle Upper House elections commence in Jowhar,” Goobjoog News, November 9, 2016,; “Lower House election to commence this in Hirshabelle state,” Goobjoog News, November 9, 2016,; and “Speaker Jawaari makes comeback as Jubbaland and South West states elect MPs,” Goobjoog News, November 8, 2016,  
View Citations
Arrow down red
Dec '16
Nov '16
Oct '16