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: Houthi spokesperson meets with EU officials; Egypt deploys advisors to Yemen; Houthi missile launch fails; Yemeni vice president meets with US charge d’affairs; US holds meeting to discuss Houthi terrorist designation
Somalia: Al Shabaab targets election site in mortar attack in southern Somalia; al Shabaab IED kills three in northern Somalia; US State Department targets Somali officials with visa restrictions
Yemen Security Brief
The Houthi spokesperson and chief negotiator met with the European Union (EU)’s director-general for Middle East and North Africa and officials from the EU’s Gulf and Yemen delegations February 9.[i] The parties discussed the humanitarian and economic situation in Yemen, as well as a political solution to the Yemeni war.
Egypt reportedly deployed seven to ten advisors to southern Yemen in support of UAE-backed forces after the Houthi seizure of a UAE cargo vessel on January 2.[ii] Egypt deployed the advisors due to concerns over freedom of navigation in the Bab al Mandeb.[iii] The Houthis told Egypt they would not interfere with Egyptian interests so long as Egypt did “not enter [the war].”
The Houthi movement attempted to launch a ballistic missile from Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on February 9.[iv] Local sources claimed the launch was likely targeting Saudi Arabia. The missile failed and landed near the launch site.
Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar met with the US charge d’affairs in Riyadh on February 9.[v] They discussed peace efforts in Yemen and drone and missile attacks targeting the Gulf.
The Biden Administration discussed re-designating the Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization in a meeting on February 4.[vi] The National Security Council supports re-designating the Houthis, while the State Department supports the use of targeted sanctions against specific Houthi leaders.
Somalia Security Brief
Al Shabaab mortared an election center in Barawe, Lower Shabelle, southern Somalia, on February 9.[vii] The mortars hit nearby residential areas, killing at least four people and injuring nine others.[viii] South West State still held planned elections for seven lower house MPs on February 9 but suspended scheduled elections for seven more seats on February 10. Troops led by the Somali ground forces commander arrived in Barawe on February 7 to secure the city for elections.[ix]
Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device targeting a restaurant in Bossaso, Bari region, northern Somalia, on February 9. The explosion killed at least three people and injured ten more. Al Shabaab killed three Puntland State personnel in Bossaso in attacks on January 26 and 27, its first attacks in Bossaso since October 2021.[x] Counterterrorism forces also secured villages near Bossaso in the Sanaag region on February 5, following an al Shabaab attack on Puntland forces on February 1.[xi]
The United States State Department issued visa restrictions targeting Somali officials “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia,” on February 9.[xii] US officials did not release a list of affected individuals.
[i] Muhammad Abdul Salam, Twitter, February 9, 2022, https://twitter.com/abdusalamsalah/status/1491390182167580676.
[ii] Mareb Press, “French intelligence: Egyptian forces in Yemen to confront the Houthis,” February 9, 2022, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=182031&lang=arabic.
[iii] Hayrout, “Egypt receives reassuring Houthi messages regarding the security of international navigation in exchange for its non-involvement in the Yemen war,” February 6, 2022, https://hayrout.com/106324/.
[vi] Barak Ravid, “White House holds meeting on redesignating the Houthis as a terrorist organization,” Axios, February 9, 2022, https://www.axios.com/white-house-weighs-redesignating-houthis-terrorist-2699152c-3edf-4d40-b5e8-9d135867bb21.html.
[vii] Goobjoog News, “One dead, 3 injured as mortar shells hit Barawe,” February 9, 2022, https://goobjoog.com/english/one-dead-3-injured-as-mortar-shells-hit-barawe/.
[viii] Harun Maruf, Twitter, February 9, 2022, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1491373459003555845?cxt=HHwWioDStcyQtrIpAAAA.
[ix] SONNA, “Infantry commander arrives in Barawe,” February 7, 2022, https://sonna.so/so/taliyaha-ciidan-lugta-oo-gaaray-baraawe/.
[x] Radio Dalsan, “Explosion hits Bossaso town,” January 26, 2022, https://www.radiodalsan.com/wararka-idaacadda/qarax-khasaaro-gaystay-oo-goordhaweyd-ka-dhacay-magaalada-boosaaso/; and Somali Dispatch, “Explosion kills government official in Bossaso,” January 27, 2022, https://www.somalidispatch.com/latest-news/explosion-kills-government-official-in-bossaso/.
[xi] Puntland Post, “Puntland Forces arrive in al-Shabaab attack,” February 2, 2022, https://puntlandpost.net/2022/02/02/ciidamada-puntland-oo-gaaray-degaan-shalay-al-shabaab-weerartay/.
[xii] Antony J. Blinken, “Promoting Sustainable Peace and Responsive Governance in Somalia,” United States State Department, February 8, 2022, https://www.state.gov/promoting-sustainable-peace-and-responsive-governance-in-somalia/.