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 releases video offering complete amnesty to internal spies; UN Security Council extends targeted sanctions on individuals threatening Yemeni security for another year; al Houthi militants bomb school in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM announces death of Manda Bay attack mastermind; al Shabaab claims attack on Kenyan police camp; Somaliland and Puntland States skirmish over disputed towns in northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video on February 25 recognizing that its internal spies remain a significant problem to the organization. AQAP promised complete amnesty to members who have spied if they turn themselves in. The video included testimonials by AQAP members admitting to spying and expressing deep remorse.[1]

The UN Security Council granted a one-year extension of targeted sanctions imposed on individuals and entities threatening Yemeni security and stability during a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York City on February 25. The sanctions targeted al Houthi militants with an arms embargo and froze assets belonging to individual al Houthi militant supporters and leaders. Thirteen Security Council members voted in favor of the sanctions while Russia and China abstained. The UN originally imposed the sanctions in 2014.[2]

Al Houthi militants bombed al Salah School in Majzar district in Ma’rib governorate in northern Yemen on February 25, according to local sources. Local media sources stated that this attack was in retaliation for the Saudi-led coalition airstrike in al Mahzamat in Yemen’s northern al Jawf governorate in mid-February. [3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced on February 25 that it killed the mastermind behind al Shabaab’s attack on the US-operated Manda Bay Airfield in southeastern Kenya’s Lamu County in early January. AFRICOM said an airstrike killed the militant commander and his wife, also an al Shabaab operative, near Saakow in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region on February 22. The Manda Bay attack killed one American service member and two military contractors.[4]

Al Shabaab militants claimed an attack targeting a police camp in eastern Kenya’s Garissa County on February 26. Other local reports classified the target as a Kenyan military base. Kenyan officials have not yet commented on the attack.[5]

Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland State and semi-autonomous Puntland State skirmished over the disputed towns of Hadaaftimoin and Sanaag in northern Somalia on February 25 and 26. Puntland and Somaliland States both claim sovereignty over the Sool and Sanaag regions located between the two states. Puntland and Somaliland previously fought over the Sool region in early 2018.[6]

[1] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, February 25, 2020,

[2] “Security Council Extends 2014 Sanctions Imposed on Those Threatening Security, Stability in Yemen, Adopting Resolution 2511 (2020),” UN, February 25, 2020,; and Edith M. Lederer, “UN Security Council approves resolution on Yemen sanctions,” Associated Press, February 26, 2020,

[3] “Al Houthi militia bombs a school in al Jawf,” Adnlng, February 26, 2020,; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 20, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 20, 2020,  

[4] “Precision airstrike eliminated al-Shabaab leader associated with Manda Bay attack,” AFRICOM, February 25, 2020,; “Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM conduct airstrike against al-Shabaab,” AFRICOM, February 23, 2020,; and Abdi Guled, Tom Odula, and Cara Anna, “Extremists attack Kenya military base, 3 Americans killed,” Associated Press, January 5, 2020,

[5] “Al-Shabab attacks Kenyan military base in Northeastern Kenya,” Goobjoog, February 26, 2020,; and “Al-Shabaab attacks KDF troops in on Somali-Kenyan border,” Radio Shabelle, February 26, 2020,

[6] “Somaliland and Puntland trade accusations as fighting breaks out in Sanaag region,” Hiiraan, February 26, 2020,

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