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 Navy announces seizing weapons bound for Yemen; Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia; US Department of State condemns al Houthi escalation in Ma’rib governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks government and security officials in Mogadishu; al Shabaab attacks SNA in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab releases last episode of documentary criticizing SFG; SFG delays election meeting on federal presidential elections
Yemen Security Brief:
The US Navy announced on February 16 that it seized a ship smuggling weapons off Somalia’s coast. An unnamed US defense official said the weapons were bound for Yemen.[i]
The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone targeting Khamis Mushait city in southern Saudi Arabia on February 17. The coalition forces claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone launched toward Abha airport in the kingdom’s Asir region on February 16.[ii]
The US Department of State released a statement on February 16 condemning the al Houthi movement’s escalation of militant activity in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed in Ma’rib governorate’s Sirwah district on February 15.[iii]
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
Al Shabaab attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Wardhigley district in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on February 15. Suspected al Shabaab militants shot and killed three cleaners working for Somalia’s Ministry of Defense in Mogadishu on February 14. Separately, an al Shabaab suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack targeted a government checkpoint near the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu on February 13. The attack killed at least one civilian and wounded several others.[iv]
Al Shabaab killed two SNA soldiers in Awdheegle district in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on February 14. Al Shabaab attacked two African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) bases in Lower Shabelle region on February 10.[v]
Al Shabaab released the final episode of its documentary series criticizing the Somali Federal Government (SFG) on February 15. The sixth episode blames the Somali President and SFG for sowing divisions between Somali clans and allowing foreign interference in the country. Al Shabaab released its fifth episode on February 13.[vi]
The SFG delayed an elections meeting scheduled for February 15 in Puntland State’s capital after Puntland and Jubbaland State officials disagreed on the meeting’s location. The SFG failed to hold federal presidential elections scheduled for February 8.[vii]
[i] Isabel Debre, “US Navy seizes large cache of smuggled weapons off Somalia,” Associated Press, February 16, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/bahrain-gulf-of-aden-dubai-united-arab-emirates-persian-gulf-tensions-06e5b738d8a212702b5588b49ea26b17; and Diana Stancy Correll, “Guided-missile destroyer Winston Churchill seizes thousands of illicit weapons from dhows off Somalia coast,” Navy Times, February 16, 2021, https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2021/02/16/guided-missile-destroyer-winston-churchill-seizes-thousands-of-illicit-weapons-from-dhows-off-somalia-coast/.
[ii] “Houthi drone intercepted over Saudi Arabia,” Emirates News Agency, February 17, 2021, http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302910755; “Arab Coalition destroys Houthi drone heading toward Abha Airport,” Al Arabiya, February 16, 2021, https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/02/16/Terrorism-Arab-Coalition-destroys-Houthi-drone-heading-towards-Abha-Airport-; “Saudi Arabia confirms the destruction of an explosive drone launched by Houthis at Abha airport,” Al Jazeera, February 15, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/2021/2/16/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b3%d8%b9%d9%88%d8%af%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%aa%d8%a4%d9%83%d8%af-%d8%aa%d8%af%d9%85%d9%8a%d8%b1-%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%a6%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%85%d8%b3%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%85%d9%81%d8%ae%d8%ae%d8%a9; “Arab Coalition destroys bomb-laden Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia,” Emirates News Agency, February 16, 2021, https://wam.ae/en/details/1395302910228; and “Coalition forces intercept, destroy two Houthi-fired drones,” Emirates News Agency, February 16, 2021, https://wam.ae/en/details/1395302910177.
[iii] “Dozens of victims in clashes in Ma’rib… a new Houthi attack on Jeddah and Abha airports,” Al Jazeera, February 15, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2021/2/15/%d8%b3%d9%82%d9%88%d8%b7-%d8%b9%d8%b4%d8%b1%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%82%d8%aa%d9%84%d9%89-%d9%81%d9%8a-%d9%85%d9%88%d8%a7%d8%ac%d9%87%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a8%d9%8a%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ac%d9%8a%d8%b4; and Ned Price, “The Houthis Must Cease the Assault on Marib,” US Department of State, February 16, 2021, https://www.state.gov/the-houthis-must-cease-the-assault-on-marib/#:~:text=The%20United%20States%20urges%20the,afflicting%20the%20people%20of%20Yemen.&text=Marib%20is%20controlled%20by%20the%20legitimate%20government%20of%20Yemen.
[iv] “Suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen kill pregnant women in Somalia,” Garowe, February 14, 2021, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/suspected-al-shabaab-gunmen-shoot-dead-pregnant-women-in-somalia; Harun Maruf, “At least One Dead, Several Wounded in Suicide Bomb Attack in Mogadishu,” Voice of America, February 13, 2021, https://www.voanews.com/africa/least-one-dead-several-wounded-suicide-bomb-attack-mogadishu; and “Heavy fighting erupts in Mogadishu,” Calamada, February 16, 2021, https://calamada.com/dagaal-culus-oo-ka-dhacay-magaalada-muqdisho-6/.
[v] “Bodies of Turkish-trained soldiers displayed in Lower Shabelle,” Somali Memo 24, February 14, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8148/Meydadka-ciidamo-Turkigu-tababaray-oo-Sh-hoose-lagusoo-bandhigay; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 12, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 12, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-12-2021.
[vi] “Shabaab Declares Somalia a Failed State, Farmajo Inept and Inadequate in Conclusion of Documentary Series,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 16, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and “Shabaab Identifies SNA as Fragile Collection of ‘Drug Addicts’ and ‘Trigger Happy Clan Militias’ in 5th Part of Documentary Series,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 15, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
[vii] “Farmajo failed Somalia, claims former President,” Garowe, February 16, 2021, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/farmajo-failed-somalia-claims-former-president; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 3, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-3-2021.