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: UAE withdraws additional forces from Yemen; al Houthi militants clash with Hadi government forces in Taiz; AQAP to announce new leader

Horn of Africa: SNA troops clash with Jubbaland forces; AFRICOM conducts two airstrikes on Somali al Shabaab stronghold; al Shabaab raids construction site in southern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) withdrew additional forces from Yemen on February 8 as part of a new “indirect approach” strategy in Yemen’s war. A UAE military official said UAE forces have trained and armed 200,000 Yemeni soldiers in light of the troop’s withdrawal. The UAE reportedly began withdrawing forces from Yemen in July 2019.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may appoint Sa'ad bin Atef al Awlaki as the successor to former AQAP leader Qasim al Raymi, according to a Yemeni journalist. Al Awlaki is AQAP’s regional leader for Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen. A US airstrike killed Raymi in northern Yemen in late January.[2]

Hadi government forces repelled al Houthi militants from the eastern and western fronts of Taiz city in Taiz governorate on Yemen’s southern Red Sea coast on February 9, according to a Hadi government military spokesman.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali National Army (SNA) forces clashed with Jubbaland State militia forces in Beled Hawo in Jubbaland’s Gedo region, bordering Kenya, on February 8. The clash killed one local militia member. Tensions between the Somali Federal Government (SFG), the Jubbaland State government, and Kenya rose significantly when the SNA took control of the Gedo region from Jubbaland officials on February 4. The SNA’s response followed allegations that a Kenyan-backed fugitive Jubbaland minister was inciting separatism against the SFG among Jubbaland forces in Gedo. A SFG official threatened to invade Kenya if it continued to assist Jubbaland’s government in resisting federal authority on February 10.[4]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted two airstrikes targeting al Shabaab positions in Jilib in the Somali southwestern Middle Jubba region on February 6. The strikes destroyed an al Shabaab compound and seriously wounded two fighters. This is the fourth strike AFRICOM has conducted in Jilib and its surroundings this month.[5]

Al Shabaab attacked two Chinese construction vehicles as they traveled near Milihoi in Kenya’s southern Lamu County, destroying an excavator and a cement truck before fleeing into the nearby jungle. Al Shabaab promised to continue attacking Chinese investments to damage Kenya’s economy. Al Shabaab attacked a US-Kenyan military position in Lamu County in early January, killing three Americans.[6]

[1] “It participated with 18,000 soldiers and recruited 200,000 Yemenis…The UAE announces the return of its forces and reveals its outcome in Yemen,” Al Jazeera, February 9, 2020,; and Declan Walsh and David D. Kirkpatrick “U.A.E. Pulls Most Forces From Yemen in Blow to Saudi War Effort,” New York Times, July 11, 2019,

[2] “Bin Lhabbar reveals by name Al-Rimi’s successor in Al Qaeda in Yemen,” 7adramout, February 10, 2020; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – November 8, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 8, 2019,; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 7, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 7, 2020,

[3] “The killing of 13 al Houthis in clashes in Ta’iz,” Adengd, February 10, 2020

[4] Abuga Makori, “Deputy Governor threatens to mobilise troops to invade Kenya amid tensions,” Garowe, February 9, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 5, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2020,

[5] “Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. conduct two airstrikes against al-Shabaab terrorists,” AFRICOM, February 8, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 3, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2020,

[6] “Two Vehicles Destroyed By Al-Shabaab Militants In Milihoi Area,” Kenya News, February 10, 2020,; and “Shabaab Claims Attack on Chinese Engineers Near Site of Camp Simba Attack,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 10, 2019, available by subscription at

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