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: US drone strike kills AQAP explosives expert; AQAP claims two separate attacks in Abyan

Somalia: Somali national security advisor announces thousands of recruits sent to neighboring countries for training; local militia pre-emptively attack al Shabaab gathering in north-central Somalia; SFG hosts security summit with neighboring countries to discuss counterterrorism

Yemen Security Brief:

The United States conducted a drone strike killing an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) explosives manufacturer in Wadi Ubaydah, Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen, on January 30.[i] Yemeni media did not confirm the identities of two other likely AQAP fighters in the vehicle. The drone strike used an inert bladed-missile to minimize the risk of collateral damage.[ii]

AQAP claimed two separate attacks in al Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on January 30.[iii] AQAP fighters detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting one likely Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed soldier in the first attack, wounding him. The second attack targeted multiple STC-backed soldiers with an “anti-personnel mine,” wounding an unspecified number of soldiers.

Somalia Security Brief:

The Somali president’s national security advisor told Voice of America that the Somali Federal Government has sent at least 12,000 troops to regional partners for training since the beginning of January.[iv] The SFG reportedly sent 3,000 soldiers to Eritrea, 3,000 to Uganda, and “an additional 6,000 recruits…to Ethiopia and Egypt” with a goal of having 15,000 soldiers available within 2023.

Local militia preemptively attacked al Shabaab militants in the Gorof area, El Bur district, Galgudud region, north-central Somalia, on January 30.[v] The local militia claimed they killed at least ten al Shabaab members and interrupted an imminent attack on a nearby village close to Mahas village.

The Somali Federal Government hosted a security summit with high-ranking officials from Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia on January 31 and February 1.[vi] Somali defense officials met with their regional counterparts on January 31, while the regional heads of state met on February 1. Al Shabaab fired mortars at Villa Somalia hours before the meeting on February 1.[vii] The officials discussed joint cooperation against al Shabaab and agreed on a “search and destroy” military campaign targeting al Shabaab across central and southern Somalia.[viii]

[i] Mareb Press, “Details and Pictures of the American Raid in Ma’rib Governorate, and the Identity of the Targeted Personnel,” January 31, 2023,

[ii] [NSFW] Charles Lister, Twitter, January 30, 2023,

[iii] SITE, “AQAP Commences Use of Anti-Personnel Mines in Attack on UAE-Backed Forces in Abyan,” January 31, 2023, available by subscription at:

[iv] Harun Maruf, “Exclusive: Somalia Sends Thousands of Army Recruits Abroad for Training,” Voice of America, January 31, 2023,

[v] Jamaal Maxamed, “A heavy defeat was delivered to al Shabaab in Galgudud,” Caasimada, January 31, 2023,

[vi] Horseed Media, “SOMALIA: A high-level security conference in Mogadishu,” January 31, 2023,; Halbeeg, “Regional Presidents to meet in Somalia over security,” February 1, 2023,

[vii] Jamaal Maxamed, “Breaking: A number of mortars hit around Villa Somalia,” Caasimada, February 1, 2023,

[viii] Somali National TV, @sntvnews1, Twitter,

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