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: UN confirms arrest of AQAP emir and death of high-ranking AQAP member; Biden administration halts US support for Saudi-led coalition offensives in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab launches mortar targeting government officials in Galmudug State; al Shabaab announces planned release of documentary critiquing Somalia’s president
Yemen Security Brief:
The UN confirmed the arrest of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) leader Khaled Batarfi and the death of high-ranking AQAP official Sa’ad Atef al Awlaki on February 4. Yemeni security forces arrested Batarfi and killed Awlaki during a raid in al Ghaydah city in eastern Yemen’s al Mahrah governorate in October 2020.[i]
US President Joseph Biden announced on February 4 an end to US support for offensive operations led by the Saudi-led coalition, which has military supported the internationally recognized Yemeni government fighting the al Houthi movement in Yemen. The Biden administration initiated a partial halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia on January 27.[ii]
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
Al Shabaab fired mortar targeting government officials convening at an emergency election conference in Dhusamareb, the capital of central Somalia’s Galmudug State, on February 5. The Somali Federal Government plans to hold federal presidential elections on February 8.[iii]
Al Shabaab announced on February 3 that it will release a six-part documentary series critiquing the Somali president. Al Shabaab released a video on January 29 paying tribute to its January 2020 Manda Bay attack in Kenya.[iv]
[i] Paul Cruickshank, “Al Qaeda’s leader in Yemen under arrest, UN report reveals,” CNN, February 4, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/04/politics/al-qaeda-un-report/index.html; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 5, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 5, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-5-2020.
[ii] Rebecca Kheel, “Biden announces end to US support for offensive operations in Yemen,” The Hill, February 4, 2021, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/537346-biden-to-announce-end-to-us-support-for-offensive-operations-in-yemen; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 29, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 29, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-29-2021.
[iii] Magdalene Mukami, “Somalia: 8 al-Shabaab insurgents killed,” Anadolu Agency, February 5,2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somalia-8-al-shabaab-insurgents-killed/2134804; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 3, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-03-2021.
[iv] “Shabaab Announces Forthcoming Documentary Series Critical of Somali President,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 3, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 29, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 29, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-29-2021.