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: Revised UN peace proposal to keep President Hadi as figurehead; U.S. Navy and Saudi-led coalition intercept four Iranian weapons shipments since April 2015; U.S. CENTCOM confirms airstrike on AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate; AQAP militants detonate IED in Abyan governorate; Prime Minister bin Daghir claims Iranian military experts trained 6,000 al Houthi-Saleh forces; Hadi government and allied forces clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Lahij and Sana’a governorates

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab gunmen kill three SNA soldiers in Heliwa district, Mogadishu; al Shabaab launches two assaults on security forces in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab executes two individuals in Tiyeglow, Bakool region; Ethiopian officials insist troop withdrawals are unrelated to Ethiopia unrest

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented a revised peace plan to the al Houthi-Saleh alliance that will keep President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in office in a mostly symbolic role. The proposal states that President Hadi will transfer all his powers to a new consensus vice president, who will in turn appoint a prime minister to form a national unity government. Al Houthi-Saleh forces will withdraw from Sana’a and hand over heavy weapons to a third party. Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghir announced that the Hadi government has not received a copy of the proposal but the government will comply if it is compatible with the terms of the 2011 Gulf Initiative and the 2014 National Dialogue Conference. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash expressed his support for the proposal on social media.[1]
  • U.S. Navy and Saudi-led coalition ships have intercepted four Iranian weapon shipments to al Houthi-Saleh forces since April 2015, according to Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan. The shipments contained assault rifles, anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles, and “higher-end weapons systems.” Admiral Donegan stated that he believes several other shipments have reached al Houthi-Saleh forces.[2]
  • U.S. Central Command confirmed an October 21 airstrike that killed five al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in in Ma’rib governorate in an October 26 announcement. The airstrike killed at least two members of the AQAP-affiliated Sons of Hadramawt in Wadi Obeida area in Ma’rib governorate, according to local sources. AQAP established the Sons of Hadramawt in spring 2015 as part of an effort to provide governance services to the local population of Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen.[3]
  • Suspected AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Hizam patrol car in Lawder district, Abyan governorate on October 27. The explosion reportedly killed two security personnel. AQAP militants abducted and killed a Political Security Officer in Abyan governorate on October 26, according to local sources. Security forces dismantled an IED near a security checkpoint in Shoqra area, Abyan governorate on October 26. An unknown actor killed an AQAP commander while he was held in police custody in Lahij governorate on October 27.[4]
  • Prime Minister Obaid Bin Daghir claimed the Iranian government trained nearly 6,000 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Iran and Lebanon. Prime Minister Bin Daghir called the al Houthi-Saleh alliance a problem for Yemen, the region, and the world. Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi accused Hadi government and Saudi-led coalition of tactically targeting and exploiting economic conditions in al Houthi-Saleh-controlled northern Yemen. Abdul al Malik al Houthi called on the al Houthi movement and its military allies to form a government in Sana’a.[5]
  • Hadi government and allied forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh forces along major frontlines in Lahij and Sana’a governorates on October 27. Al Houthi-Saleh forces shelled Hadi government and popular resistance forces in Kirsh district, northern Taiz-Lahij border. Hadi government and popular resistance forces launched a counterattack to dislodge al Houthi-Saleh artillery near Kirsh. Hadi government and allied forces, supported by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, attacked al Houthi-Saleh positions in Nihm district, northeast of Sana’a city on October 27. A spokesman for the anti-al Houthi popular resistance in Sana’a claimed to seize territory on strategic mountains in Nihm district.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Suspected al Shabaab militants killed three Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu on October 26. The gunmen reportedly approached the soldiers from behind and shot them before fleeing the scene. Al Shabaab gunmen killed a SNA general in Mogadishu on October 24.[7]
  • Al Shabaab forces launched two separate assaults in Lower Shabelle region on October 26. Militants attacked Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) positions near village #50 in Lower Shabelle region. Militants also attacked a regional security force position nearby. The fighting killed at least four security personnel.[8]
  • Al Shabaab fighters executed two individuals in Tiyeglow village in Bakool region on October 27. Al Shabaab forces occupied Tiyeglow after Ethiopian AMISOM forces withdrew from the village on October 26. Al Shabaab executed three men in El Ali town for cooperating with the Ethiopian forces after the forces withdrew on October 12.[9]
  • Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda insisted that recent withdrawals of Ethiopian forces from Somalia are unrelated to spreading protests and the declaration of a state of emergency in Ethiopia. Reda claimed that the forces withdrawn from Somalia were extra Ethiopian forces that were not part of the Ethiopian AMISOM contingent. The newly elected president of HirShabelle state, the region most affected by the Ethiopian withdrawals, stated that HirShabelle will train new forces to provide security in the region.[10]
[1] Mohammed Ghobari, “U.N. peace plan for Yemen appears to sideline exiled president,” Reuters, October 27, 2016,; “Ben Daghir: The government has not received any draft agreement or political settlement by Ould Cheikh,” Saba New, October 27, 2016,; and Dr. Anwar Gargash, Twitter, October 26, 2016,
[2] “Four Iranian arms shipments to Yemen stopped,” Gulf Times, October 27, 2016,
[3] “Terrorists killed in U.S. strike,” U.S. Central Command, October 26, 2016,;  and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” Critical Threats, October 24, 2016,
[4] “Explosion targeting a patrol of the security belt forces in #Abyan,” Barakish, October 27, 2016,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 27, 2016,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 27, 2016,; Demolinari, Twitter, October 26, 2016; “Abyan: body of political security officer found days after he was kidnapped by al-Qaeda,” Barakish, October 27, 2016,; “Al Qaeda leader killed in clashes near police headquarter in Lahij governorate,” al Masdar, October 27, 2016,; and “Mystery around the death of al Qaeda leader in Lahij governorate,” Aden Tomorrow, October 27, 2016,  
[5] “Yemeni government head says that Iran has trained six thousand fighters,” al Masdar, October 27, 2016,; “Yemen foes fight in Marib day after U.N. envoy delivers peace plan,” Reuters, October 27, 2016,; and “Speech by Abdul al Malik al Houthi to mark the anniversary of the martydom of Imam Zaid,” al Masirah, October, 27, 2016,
[6] “Violent clashes in Kirsh and artillery bombardment,” Aden Tomorrow, October 27, 2016,; and “Army advanced east of Sanaa .. and militia putschists retreat,” Aden Tomorrow, October 27, 2016,
[7] “Three Somali soldiers killed in Mogadishu today, Goobjoog News, October 27, 2016,
[8] “Al-shabab stages separate raids in Lower Shabelle,” Shabelle News, October 27, 2016,
[9] “Alshabab kills two more people in Tiyeglow District of Bakool region,” Goobjoog News, October 27, 2016,
[10] “Ethiopia denies Somalia troop withdrawals linked to unrest at home,” Shabelle News, October 27, 2016,; and “Hir-Shabelle president speaks about Ethiopian troops pull out,” Shabelle News, October 27, 2016,
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