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: French special forces seize Iranian weapons shipment for the Houthis; Mareb Press reports that ROYG will deploy new forces to southern Yemen; ROYG official acknowledges for the first time renewed Saudi talks with Houthis on UN armistice provisions
Somalia: International partner drone strike disrupts imminent al Shabaab attack in north-central Somalia; anti-al Shabaab forces attack al Shabaab gathering in recurring al Shabaab staging area in central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
French special forces seized Iranian-supplied weapons and ammunition destined for the Houthis in the Gulf of Oman on January 15.[i] The shipment included more than 3,000 assault rifles, over 500,000 rounds of ammunition, and over 20 anti-tank guided missiles. The seizure, coordinated with the US military, is part of increased French efforts to stymie weapons smuggling in the region.
Mareb Press reported on February 1 that newly-formed Yemeni Government (ROYG) Nation Shield Forces will be deployed to Wadi Hadramawt as well as Lahij, al Dhalea and Abyan governorates, Yemen.[ii] Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Chairman Rashad al Alimi created the Nation Shield Forces in late January to serve as reserve units under his direct control. Several pro-Southern Transitional Council (STC) outlets said on February 3 that Alimi’s move was hostile to southern security and undermined cooperation between the STC and ROYG.[iii]
Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak publicly acknowledged on February 3 that there are ongoing Saudi-Houthi talks to renew provisions of the UN armistice.[iv] Al Mashhad al Yemeni reported that Bin Mubarak’s statement is considered the first Yemeni government statement on the talks.
Somalia Security Brief:
A likely US or Turkish drone strike targeted al Shabaab militants near Harardhere, Mudug region, north-central Somalia, on February 3.[v] The airstrike destroyed two al Shabaab car bombs and killed all al Shabaab militants enroute to attack Somali military bases in Harardhere.
Local militia and Somali National Army forces cleared an al Shabaab gathering near Beer Haano, Beledweyne district, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on February 1.[vi] Somali officials claimed to kill an unspecified number of al Shabaab militants and said the clashes killed at least four government soldiers.[vii] The Somali forces also secured nearby villages after the fighting. This is at least the third time Somali forces have cleared al Shabaab from Beer Haano since January 19.[viii]
[i] Dion Nissenbaum, “French Forces Seize Iranian-Supplied Weapons Bound for Yemen,” February 1, 2023, Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/french-forces-seize-iranian-supplied-weapons-bound-for-yemen-11675242819.
[ii] Mareb Press, “Disclosure of the governorates and locations where the newly formed ‘National Shield’ forces will be deployed,” February 1, 2023, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=190224.
[iii] SMA News, “Yemeni legitimacy... humiliating submission to Houthi and a show of muscle towards the people of the south,” February 3, 2023, https://smanews.org/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ac%d9%86%d9%88%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b9%d8%b1%d8%a8%d9%8a/320801/.
[v] Shabelle Media Network, “Cars filled with explosives were blown up on the outskirts of Harardhere,” February 3, 2023, https://shabellemedia.com/gawaari-laga-soo-buuxiyay-qaraxyo-oo-lagu-qarxiyay-duleedka-xarardheere/.
[vi] Shabelle Media Network, @ShabelleMedia, Twitter, February 1, 2023, https://twitter.com/ShabelleMedia/status/1620842886362468352?s=20&t=9yNPw-J3yuMegun6u_b6ng.
[vii] Abdi al Sheikh, @Abdi_AlSheikh, Twitter, February 3, 2023, https://twitter.com/Abdi_AlSheikh/status/1621230599888375810?s=20&t=9yNPw-J3yuMegun6u_b6ng.
[viii] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 20, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 20, 2023, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-20-2023; Radio Risaala, “Operations in different areas of Hiran-Mudug,” January 23, 2023, https://radiorisaala.com/howlgallo-ka-socda-degaano-ka-kala-tirsan-gobolada-hiiraan-mudug/.