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: Al Qaeda condemns Pope’s visit to the UAE; committee overseeing prisoner exchange meets in Amman; Saudi-led coalition targets al Houthi drone site near Sana’a city

Horn of Africa: U.S.-backed Somali forces conduct operation against al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region; AFRICOM conducts airstrike in Bay region; al Shabaab releases video depicting recent assassinations and bombings; ONLF members disarm in Ethiopia’s Somali region; UN Secretary General addresses AU Summit in Addis Ababa

Yemen Security Brief

The al Qaeda-affiliated al Sahab Media Foundation condemned a mass held by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi in the newest issue of its al Nafeer bulletin on February 6. The publication called on Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula to embrace jihad and support al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Shabaab in Somalia.[1]

The Supervisory Committee on the implementation of the Prisoner Exchange Agreement, which includes representatives from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, the al Houthi Movement, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), held its second meeting from February 5 to February 8 in Amman, Jordan. The parties did not sign the prisoner lists, but they shared additional information on the status of individuals affected by the agreement. The Sub-Committee on Dead Bodies and Human Remains held its first meeting and agreed on a timeline and guidelines for the exchange of deceased fighters.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted an operation against a storage site for al Houthi drones east of the Yemeni capital Sana’a on February 8. The coalition struck al Houthi drone facilities on January 19 and January 31.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S.-backed Somali special forces conducted an operation against al Shabaab militants near Janale town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on February 10. The U.S.-backed Somali soldiers arrived via helicopter and had air support from a drone. Al Shabaab claimed to repel the attack.[4]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants near Kabow in Bay region in southern Somalia on February 8.[5]

Al Shabaab released a video on February 9 depicting assassinations and bombings across Somalia. The video showed seven assassinations and 20 improvised explosive device (IED) attacks targeting government officials, Somali soldiers, U.S. forces, and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) forces. Al Shabaab released the first video in the series in May 2018.[6]

Nearly 2,000 members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) disarmed on February 9 in the Somali region in eastern Ethiopia as part of a peace agreement with the Ethiopian government. The disarmed members will join the Liyu police, the Somali region’s security force.[7]

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addressed the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, on February 10. Mr. Guterres stated that African peace operations, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), should have clear mandates from the UN Security Council and “predictable, sustainable financing.”[8]

[1] “Al Qaeda condemns papal mass in UAE, calls Muslims in Arabian Peninsula to embrace jihad and support AQAP and Shabaab,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 8, 2019, English translation available by subscription at;

[2] The Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Prisoner Exchange Agreement continues its work,” OSESGY, February 08, 2019,

[3] “Joint Forces Command of Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: Targeting and destroying Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia location for UAV preparation and storage and their launch vehicles,” Saudi Press Agency, February 08, 2019,; Nayera Abdallah, “Saudi-led coalition in Yemen launches a targeting operation in Sanaa,” Reuters, February 08, 2019,

[4] “U.S. special forces clash with al Shabaab in Somalia,” Mareeg, January 11, 2019,; and “Shabaab claims thwarting U.S.-Somalia raid in Janale, concentrates operations in Lower Shabelle in 24 hours,” SITE Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at

[5] “Al Shabaab degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia,” U.S. AFRICOM, February 9, 2019,

[6] “Shabaab Releases 2nd Episode in Video Series on Assassinations and Bombings, shows blast on U.S. vehicle in Lower Shabelle,” Site Intelligence Group, February 9, 2019. English translation available by subscription at

[7] “ONLF fighters reintegrated into regional state security forces,” Radio Shabelle, February 9, 2019,

[8] “UN calls for greater support to African Union Mission in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, February 11, 2019,

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