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 Houthis claim responsibility for downed Saudi jet in northern Yemen; Hadi government and al Houthi movement agree to first large-scale prisoner swap; Saudi-led coalition clashes with tribal forces in eastern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militant surrenders to SNA; Islamic State in Somalia releases training camp photos; US airstrike targets al Shabaab in Jilib

Yemen Security Brief

A Saudi-led coalition jet crashed over al Jawf governorate in northern Yemen on February 14. The al Houthi movement claimed to have shot it down. A Saudi-led coalition spokesman acknowledged that a jet had “fallen.” A coalition aircraft struck unspecified targets in al Jawf governorate on February 15, killing at least 30 civilians, according to the UN. The al Houthi militants accused the Saudi-led coalition of launching the airstrikes in retaliation for the al Houthis shooting down the jet.[1]

Hadi government forces and the al Houthi movement agreed on February 16 to the first large-scale prisoner exchange since the current conflict’s beginning. The parties reached the agreement after a week of negotiations mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Amman, Jordan. The ICRC did not disclose details on when the swap would begin.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition forces clashed with tribal forces in al Mahrah governorate near the Omani border in eastern Yemen on February 17.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militant Olad Abdirahman Herow surrendered to the Somali National Army (SNA) in Hudur in Somalia’s central Bakool region on February 17. Herow served as an al Shabaab driver for 11 years and the SNA assessed that he had ties to a top regional al Shabaab commander. The SNA hopes Herow will provide information that could lead to the commander’s capture. Al Shabaab has a heavy presence in the Bakool region and often blocks humanitarian aid from reaching the region’s cities.[4]

The Islamic State in Somalia released a series of photos showing its fighters training in Somalia’s northeastern Puntland state on February 16. The photos showcased Islamic State militants in Somalia practicing hand-to-hand combat, performing strength training exercises, and training with various arms. The Islamic State in Somalia has 250 fighters located in Puntland’s mountainous region to avoid US airstrikes, Puntland security forces, and its rival al Shabaab.[5]

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting an al Shabaab compound in Jilib in Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on February 17. The strike destroyed one compound with no reported civilian or militant casualties. This strike was AFRICOM’s fifth airstrike targeting the militants near Jilib since the beginning of February.[6]

[1] “Yemen war: Saudi-led coalition warplane crashes,” BBC News, February 16, 2020,; and “Yemen’s air strikes kill 31 civilians after Saudi jet crash,” Reuters, February 16, 2020,

[2] Dale Gavlak, “Yemen’s Warring parties reach deal on large scale prisoners swap,” Voice of America, February 17, 2020,

[3] “Tribal forces in eastern Yemen clash with Saudis,” al Jazeera, February 18, 2020,

[4] “Senior Al-Shabaab commander defects in southern Somalia,” Garowe, February 17, 2020,

[5] “ISIS Somalia Releases Photos Of Training Camp”, Mustaqbal Radio, February 17, 2020,; and “IS Photo Report Documents Military Training of Fighters in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 18, 2019, available by subscription at

[6] “Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM conduct airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorist compound,” US Africa Command, February 17, 2020,; and Samuel Bloebaum, Minatullah Alobaidi, and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 10,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 10, 2020,

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