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: Hadi government forces exchange prisoners with al Houthi militants in al Hudaydah port; Hadi government forces in Socotra pledge allegiance to STC; al Houthi militants release video of alleged US officials destroying Yemen’s air defense systems

Horn of Africa: SNA clashes with regional paramilitary force in central Somalia; US Embassy in Nairobi and FAA release extremist attack warnings

Yemen Security Brief:

Hadi government forces exchanged prisoners with the al Houthi movement in the port of al Hudaydah in eastern Yemen on February 27. An anonymous military source stated that the Hadi government exchanged three al Houthi militants for two Hadi government troops.[1] 

Hadi government forces on the island of Socotra, located to the south of Yemen, pledged allegiance to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council on February 28. The Yemeni Minister of Information confirmed that this is the second government force unit in Socotra to switch sides in the conflict.[2]

The al Houthi movement released a video on February 27 claiming to show US officials collaborating with Yemeni military members led by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to destroy Yemen’s air defense systems in 2015. Al Houthi militants have previously accused the US of working with the former Saleh government to empower the Saudi-led coalition’s military campaign in Yemen.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

The Somali National Army (SNA) clashed with Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), a regional militia, in central Somalia’s Galmudug State capital of Dhusamareb on February 27 and 28. Contentious Galmudug State elections produced three rival parliaments in early February loyal to the Somali Federal Government, ASWJ, or the previous parliamentary incumbents respectively. ASWJ is a moderate Sufi militia that generally aligns with the Somali Federal Government against al Shabaab. ASWJ previously clashed with the SNA near Dhusamareb before Galmudug State elections in November 2019.[4]

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the US Embassy in Nairobi released security alerts on February 26 and 27 respectively, warning that extremist groups are planning attacks on airlines and hotels in Kenya. The FAA report cited al Shabaab’s access to anti-aircraft weaponry and its improvised explosive device attack on a Somali flight in February 2016. The US Embassy alert warned that extremists are planning to attack an unspecified popular Nairobi hotel. Al Shabaab killed 21 people at the DusitD2 hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2019.[5]

[1] “Pro-gov’t Yemeni exchange prisoners with houthis in hodeidah: official,” Xinhua, February 28, 2020,

[2] “Second army regiment rebels against Yemen government in Socotra,” Middle East Monitor, February 28, 2020,

[3] “Houthis release video showing US destruction of yemen’s air defenses before saudi-led war began,” Mint Press, February 27, 2020, https://www(

[4] Abdi Sheikh, “Somali military, militia clash as fight against al Qaeda-linked insurgents slows,” Reuters, February 28, 2020,; Abdirisak M Tuuryare, “Somali Troops Seize Guriel Town After Brief Fighting,” Mareeg, November 3, 2020,

[5] “U.S. warns of attack threat against major hotel in Nairobi,” Japan Times, February 28, 2020,; “FAA Background Information Regarding U.S. Civil Aviation - Kenya,” FAA, February 26, 2020,; and “Security Alert–U.S. Embassy Nairobi,” US Embassy in Kenya, February 27, 2020,

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