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: AQAP and Houthis announce prisoner swap; Houthi leader warns of “pressure options” if peace negotiations stall; STC President requests that southern independence be included in UN negotiations

Somalia: Al Shabaab launches suicide attack in Mogadishu; SNA conducts clearing operations in south-central and north-central Somalia; Likely Turkish airstrike targets al Shabaab in central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced a prisoner swap for two of their members held by the Houthis on February 18.[i] The Houthis publicly confirmed the swap.[ii] Arab News reports that the Houthis attempted to legitimize the exchange by claiming that the prisoners supported “aggression” against the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG).

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi gave a televised speech on February 17.[iii] He warned that the Houthis will return to “pressure options to obtain our people’s right to their wealth” if negotiations with the Saudis continue to stall.

Southern Transitional Council (STC) President Ayadrus al Zubaidi met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg on February 21.[iv] Zubaidi emphasized the importance of including the southern issue in the UN negotiations.

Somalia Security Brief

Al Shabaab launched a suicide raid targeting a building housing wounded local fighters from central Somalia in Abdiaziz, Mogadishu, Southern Somalia, on February 21.[v] Al Shabaab claimed to kill over 70 local fighters, while the Somali government claimed 10 civilian casualties.[vi] Somali security forces later secured the area, claiming they killed all four al Shabaab attackers.[vii]

The Somali National Army (SNA) carried out a clearing operation against al Shabaab in Mahaday, Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, on February 20.[viii] The operation continued through February 21, killing 42 al Shabaab militants and destroying al Shabaab hideouts and a base. [ix]

 The SNA cleared al Shabaab from Shabelow, Hobyo district, Mudug region, north-central Somalia, on February 21.[x] The attack killed at least 80 al Shabaab members.[xi] The SNA claimed 14 al Shabaab militants surrendered to the army. [xii] 

A likely Turkish airstrike targeted an al Shabaab vehicle in Shaw village, Bulo Burde district, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on February 22.[xiii] The attack killed 22 al Shabaab militants.[xiv] 

[i] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP Announces Successful Prisoner Swap for Two Fighters Held by Houthis,” February 18, 2023,

[ii] Arab News, “In rare admission, Yemen’s Houthis confirm they released Al Qaeda terrorists,” February 20, 2023,

[iii] Saba News Agency (Houthi), “The leader of the revolution renews his warning to the coalition of aggression that the patience of the Yemeni people will run out,” February 17, 2023,    

[iv] SMA News, “President Al Zubaidi Receives UN Special Envoy,” February 21, 2023,

[v] Caasimada, “Al-Shabab militants engage in fierce battle in Mogadishu,” February 21, 2023,

[vi] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Claims 70+ Killing in Ongoing Suicide Raid at Government HQ in Mogadishu,” February 21, 2023, Available by subscription at; Reuters, “Al Shabaab attack kills 10 at officials’ house in Somalia- ministry,” February 22, 2023,   

[vii] Voice of America, “Somali Security Forces Overpower Al-Shabab Attackers in Mogadishu,” February 21, 2023,

[viii] Halbeeg, “SNA kills 24 al-Shabaab fighters in operations,” February 20, 2023, 

[ix] Hiiraan Online, “Somali forces kill 42 al-Shabab fighters in Southern Somalia,” February 21, 2023,  

[x]  Hiiraan Online, “The Somali government said that 80 al-Shabaab were killed in an operation in Mudug region,” February 22, 2023,  

[xi] Shabelle Media Network, “Somalia army deals heavy blow to Al-Shabaab in offensive,” February 22, 2023,  

[xii] Halbeeg, “SNA kills 24 al-Shabaab fighters in operations”

[xiii] Radio Mogadishu, “The NISA Intelligence Force killed 20 of the Khawarij,” February 22, 2023,   

[xiv] National Intelligence and Security Agency, @HSNQ_NISA, Twitter, February 22, 2023,  


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