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 religious lecture series; Biden administration to remove al Houthi FTO designation; UN Special Envoy for Yemen visits Iran; Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi drones launched toward Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi force clashes in al Jawf governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab detonates IED in Galmudug State; al Shabaab releases two episodes of documentary critiquing Somali president; SFG fails to hold federal presidential elections.
Yemen Security Brief:
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) distributed a four-part religious lecture series led by AQAP leader Khaled Batarfi on February 1. The lecture centered on how Muslims should deal with “people of innovation” in religion. The UN confirmed Batarfi’s arrest on February 4.[i]
The US Department of State informed Congress on February 5 of its intent to remove the al Houthi movement from the foreign terrorist organization list over humanitarian concerns in Yemen. The Biden administration halted US support for Saudi-led coalition military offensives in Yemen on February 4.[ii]
The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived in Iran to discuss the Yemen crisis with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on February 7. This marks Griffith’s first visit to Iran.[iii]
Saudi-led coalition forces claimed to intercept four al Houthi explosive-laden drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on February 7. The Saudi-led coalition previously claimed to intercept an al Houthi drone in late January.[iv]
Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed on Dehaydah front in northern Yemen’s al Jawf governorate on February 7. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed in al Jawf governorate’s al Hazm district in late January.[v]
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device in Galmudug State’s capital Dhusamareb on February 7, killing the district head of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency. Al Shabaab launched mortar targeting government officials in Dhusamareb on February 2.[vi]
Al Shabaab released the second part of its documentary criticizing the Somali president on February 7. The group released the first part of the documentary on February 5.[vii]
The Somali Federal Government (SFG) and state officials did not come to an agreement to organize federal presidential elections scheduled for February 8. A group of Somali oppositionists suggested creating a national council of lawmakers to elect a new president.[viii]
[i]“AQAP Leader Batarfi Delivers Lecture Series on Dealing with People of Innovation in Religion,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 5, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Amelia Frederking and Lauren Detter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 5, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-5-2021.
[ii] Humeyra Pamuk, “U.S. to drop Houthi terrorist designation due to Yemen crisis,” Reuters, February 5, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-usa/u-s-intends-to-revoke-terrorist-designation-of-yemens-houthis-idUSKBN2A600Z?il=0; and Amelia Frederking and Lauren Detter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 5, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-5-2021.
[iii] “U.N. envoy Griffiths in Iran for first time to discuss Yemen crisis: TV,” Reuters, February 7, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-yemen-un-idUSKBN2A707I.
[iv] Jaclyn Diaz, “State Department Condemns Group It Removed From Terrorist List,” NPR, February 8, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/02/08/965228803/state-department-condemns-group-administration-removed-from-terrorist-list; Amelia Frederking and Lauren Detter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 1, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 1, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-1-2021; and “The Coalition launches airstrikes on Sana’a, Ma’rib, and al Jawf,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, February 2, 2021, www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/193313.
[v] “Yemeni army attack in the Dehaydah front in Al-Jawf governorate, causing the Houthi militia human and material losses,” Saudi Press Agency, February 7, 2021, http://www.spa.gov.sa/details.php?id=2187422; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 25, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 25, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-25-2021.
[vi] “Roadside bomb kills 12 Somali soldiers,” Hiiraan, February 8,2021, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Feb/181601/roadside_bomb_kills_12_somali_soldiers.aspx; 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-3-2021.
[vii] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Farmajo: False Promises and False Dreams Part 2,” Somalimemo, February 7, 2021, https://somalimemo.net/articles/14322/Farmaajo-Ballanqaadyo-Been-ah-iyo-Himilo-Halaanhal-ah-Qaybtii-2aad.
[viii] “Somalia leaders fail to reach deal on elections,” The Guardian, February 6, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/06/somalia-leaders-fail-to-reach-deal-on-elections; and Abdi Sheikh, “Somalia’s opposition cease recognizing president as election row escalates,” Reuters, February 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-election-idUSKBN2A80OD.