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 claims IED attack targeting UAE-backed soldiers; likely US drone kills two suspected AQAP fighters; AQAP official disavows calls for disassociation from al Qaeda Core; STC spokesperson demands independent political representation for the south; Houthi Transportation Minister meets with UN official to discuss Hudaydah port
Somalia: Three trainees from US-trained forces die in helicopter crash during training exercise; al Shabaab launches operations to target drug gangs in Mogadishu; al Shabaab ambushes SNA patrol in southern Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed an improvised explosive device attack that wounded an unspecified number of UAE-backed infantry soldiers in the al Musaniyah region, Shabwah governorate, Yemen on February 23.[i]
Saudi media reported that a likely US drone strike killed two suspected AQAP soldiers in their home in the al Hosen region, Wadi Obeidah, Marib governorate, Yemen on February 27.[ii]
AQAP official Ibrahim al Qosi (Abu Khubayb al Sudani) disavowed calls for AQAP to disassociate from the main Al Qaeda group in a paper published by an AQAP media site on February 24.[iii] A Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) official and other jihadists have promoted the idea of disassociation following news that Al Qaeda leader Saif al Adel is based in Iran.
The Southern Transitional Council (STC) spokesperson demanded that the South be represented by an independent delegation in political negotiations with the Houthis on February 24.[iv] The statement came after the Yemeni president said any final peace deal would be negotiated between the Houthis and the Yemeni government.[v]
Houthi media reported that the Houthi transportation minister met with the director of the Office of the UN Envoy to Yemen in Hudaydah, Yemen on February 26 to discuss the importance of the Hudaydah port to the humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people.[vi]
Somalia Security Brief:
At least three trainees from the US-trained Danab special forces died in a helicopter crash during a casualty evacuation training exercise with African Union forces at Balidogle Airbase, Wanlaweyn district, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on February 25.[vii] The crash wounded eight other soldiers.[viii]
Al Shabaab announced it was launching an operation to target drug dealers and illicit gangs in Mogadishu on February 26.[ix] The group assassinated at least three alleged dealers and claimed to kill another two dealers and blow up an alcohol, tobacco, and hashish warehouse in the Mogadishu outskirts.[x] Somali security forces also arrested gang members and raided drug safe houses in the Karaan district on February 27.[xi]
Al Shabaab ambushed a Somali National Army patrol near Malable, Qoryooley district, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on February 24.[xii] Al Shabaab claimed to kill four SNA soldiers.
[i] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP Bombs UAE-backed Infantry Group in Shabwa, Photographs Explosion,” February 23, 2023, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-Threat-Statements/aqap-bombs-uae-backed-infantry-group-in-shabwa-photographs-explosion.html
[ii] Arab News, “US drone strike kills two suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen’s Marib,” February 27, 2023, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2259026/middle-east
[iii] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQ Veteran Serving as AQAP Official Dismisses Calls for Branches to Disassociate,” February 24, 2023, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-Threat-Statements/aq-veteran-serving-as-aqap-official-dismisses-calls-for-branches-to-disassociate.html
[iv] STC Aden, “Press Statement by Official Spokesperson of the STC,” February 24, 2023, https://en.stcaden.com/news/10856
[v] Asharq al Awsat, “Al Alimi to Asharq Al Awsat: We Support and Encourage Saudi Mediation with Houthis,” February 24, 2023, https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/4176791/al-alimi-asharq-al-awsat-we-support-and-encourage-saudi-mediation-houthis
[vi] Ansarollah, “The Minister of Transport Discusses with the Director of the Office of the UN Envoy the Mechanism of Work and the Needs of the Port of Hodeidah,” February 26, 2023, https://www.ansarollah.com/archives/588476
[vii] Shabelle Media, “Details of a plane crash at Ballidoogle camp,” February 26, 2023, https://shabellemedia.com/faahfaahin-ku-saabsan-shil-diyaaradeed-oo-ka-dhacay-xerada-ballidoogle.
[viii] African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia, “ATMIS statement on helicopter crash,” February 26, 2023, https://atmis-au.org/atmis-statement-on-helicopter-crash.
[ix] Guuleed Muuse, “Al-Shabaab has announced that it has killed a drug dealer in Mogadishu,” Caasimada, February 26, 2023, https://www.caasimada.net/al-shabaab-oo-shaacisay-inay-dishay-ninkii-daroogada-ka-gedi-jiray-dhallinta-muqdisho/.
[x] Guuleed Muuse, “Al Shabaab carried out a planned operation in Mogadishu,” Caasimada, February 26, 2023, https://www.caasimada.net/al-shabaab-oo-howlgal-qorsheysan-ka-fulisay-muqdisho-khasaaraha; Guuleed Muuse, “Al-Shabaab has announced that it has killed a drug dealer in Mogadishu”; Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, February 26, 2023, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1629936131910295558?s=20
[xi] Jamaal Maxamed, “NISA carried out a heavy operation in Karan today,” Caasimada, February 27, 2023, https://www.caasimada.net/daawo-nisa-oo-howlgal-culus-ka-fulisay-degmada-kaaraan-ujeedka.
[xii] Radio al Furqaan, “Al Shabaab carried out damaging operations in the south of the country and the NFD,” February 25, 2023, https://radioalfurqaan.com/2023/02/al-shabaab-oo-howlgallo-khasaare-geystay-ka-fuliyay-koonfurta-dalka-iyo-nfd-dhageyso.