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: STC launches military operation targeting Yemeni Army in Abyan governorate; Yemeni President orders STC to cease military operations; STC commanders claim to control Abyan governorate fully; pro-South media accuses Islah of collaborating with the Houthis to attack the South; Ali Mohsen al Ahmar-funded newspaper claims STC aims to stage a coup against the PLC
Somalia: Turkish-trained Gorgor special forces clear al Shabaab from villages in central Somalia; SNA forces secure more villages in central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
Southern Transitional Council (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaidi announced Operation Arrows of the East in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on August 22. Zubaidi’s order called for the 4th Military Region, Defense Ministry, Joint Operations Abyan, the Abyan Military Axis, and Joint Coalition Forces 802 to “secure the governorate and its residents from terrorist acts.”[i] Southern media said the operation seeks to “purify Abyan of terrorist organizations, remove the threat of the Houthi and Brotherhood connection with al Qaeda, strengthen the security of Aden and the South, and protect roads linking various southern governorates.”[ii]
Yemeni President Rashad al Alimi ordered the Defense and Interior Ministries to cease all military operations in Abyan until military forces in Abyan met four demands on August 22.[iii] The demands were redeployments of military units in Abyan in accordance with the Riyadh Agreement, collecting intelligence on the activity of terrorist groups in Abyan, submitting a plan for the operation to the “supreme commander” for approval, and coordination with coalition joint operations. The STC-ordered military operations did not cease.[iv]
The commander of the STC-backed Abyan Military Axis claimed that the STC is in control of Abyan governorate on August 24.[v] Local sources claimed that STC-backed forces captured the coastal road and Shoqra, Abyan governorate after an agreement with Yemeni Army forces led to the Yemeni Army’s withdrawal from the area.[vi] The STC National Assembly president said on August 24 that the STC’s “next trend” will be to “restore” Hadramawt and Mahra.[vii]
Pro-South media claimed that the Houthis and Islah officials met in Ma’rib governorate, central Yemen to discuss the creation of a joint operations room to attack the South in an article published on August 23.[viii] The report claimed that the Houthis and Islah would activate sleeper cells to conduct attacks in Aden. It also said the Houthis would attack Abyan, Lahij, and Dhaleh governorates while Islah-backed forces attacked Shabwah governorate. Southern media framed Operation Arrows of the East as preempting this effort.
The editor-in-chief of a newspaper funded by former Yemeni Vice President and Islah powerbroker Ali Mohsen al Ahmar claimed on August 23 that the STC is attempting to stage a coup against the Presidential Leadership Council.[ix]
Somalia Security Brief:
Gorgor Special Forces cleared al Shabaab from several villages roughly 20 miles east of Beledweyne, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on August 22.[x] The Gorgor Third battalion claimed they killed at least 60 al Shabaab soldiers, including several officers.
The SNA 27th division secured several villages roughly 20 miles west of Beledweyne, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on August 24.[xi] SNA officials said soldiers took the villages without any fighting.
[i] Ali al Sakani, Twitter, August 22, 2022, https://twitter.com/Alsakaniali/status/1561805581844942853?s=20&t=QXL-MS85ZOMXihhgvgeByQ.
[ii] Aden Time, “Strengthening the security of Aden… Objectives of launching the military operation ‘Arrows of the East’ in Abyan,” August 23, 2022, https://www.aden-tm.net/news/217000.
[iii] Ali al Sakani, Twitter, August 22, 2022, https://twitter.com/Alsakaniali/status/1561805581844942853?s=20&t=QXL-MS85ZOMXihhgvgeByQ.
[iv] Ali al Sakani, Twitter, August 23, 2022, https://twitter.com/Alsakaniali/status/1561994376460517376?s=20&t=QXL-MS85ZOMXihhgvgeByQ
[v] Mareb Press, “Handing over an entire province to the STC without a fight, in full view of the President of the Presidential Council,” August 24, 2022, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=186642.
[vi] Ali al Sakani, Twitter, August 23, 2022, https://twitter.com/Alsakaniali/status/1561984707209969665?s=20&t=QXL-MS85ZOMXihhgvgeByQ.
[vii] SMA News, “Urgent: Maj. Gen. Ahmed bin Brik: We congratulate the victories of Shabwa and Abyan, and the next trend is to restore what is left in Hadramawt and al Mahra,” August 24, 2022, https://smanews.org/%d8%b9%d8%a7%d8%ac%d9%84/293187/.
[viii] Aden Lang, “Arrows of the East: A southern military operation to thwart a Houthi-Brotherhood scheme aimed at controlling Abyan,” August 23, 2022, http://adnlng.info/news/200399/.
[ix] Akhbar al Youm, “After Shabwa, the STC launched a military operation in Abyan: it called it ‘the arrows of the east,’ to ‘fight the national army,’” August 23, 2022, https://akhbaralyom.net/news_details.php?sid=151718.
[x] Radio Risaala, “The Gorgor Army commander says they have killed al Shabaab officers,” August 22, 2022, https://radiorisaala.com/taliska-ciidanka-gorgor-oo-sheegay-inay-dileen-saraakiil-xubno-katirsan-al-shabaab/.
[xi] SONNA, “SNA forces carries counter-terrorism operations in Hiran region,” August 24, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/08/24/sna-forces-carries-counter-terrorism-operations-in-hiran-region/.