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 special envoy meets with Omani foreign minister; IOM reports Houthis forcibly displaced 230 households near frontlines in southern Yemen; Houthis reiterate maximalist demands during meeting with Omani delegation in Sana’a on January 11 and 12; Pro-government media reports UN special envoy will visit Sana’a on January 14
Somalia: Security forces claim to kill Islamic State–Somalia’s military leader in northern Somalia; al Shabaab attack government employees traveling to mandated anti-al Shabaab rally in Mogadishu; al Shabaab kills hundreds of livestock to punish civilians in central Somalia; Somali forces continue operations in north-central Somalia; SFG targets al Shabaab money accounts; US puts bounty on al Shabaab leader
Yemen Security Brief:
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg met with Omani Foreign Minister Badr al Busaidi in Muscat, Oman on January 11.[i] The pair discussed “regional and international efforts to renew the truce.” Oman has been facilitating bilateral Saudi-Houthi talks. Seperately, an Omani delegation arrived in Sana’a to discuss the truce and peace process with the Houthi movement on January 10.[ii]
The International Organization for Migration reported on January 11 that the Houthis forced the displacement of at least 230 households in Dumnat Khadir and Mawiyah district, Taiz governorate, southwestern Yemen between January 4 and 5.[iii] The area is close to active frontlines in al Qubaytah district, Lahij governorate.
Houthi Chief Negotiator Mohammed Abdul Salam reiterated the Houthis’ maximalist demands for a truce on January 11, during meetings with an Omani delegation visiting Sana’a, Yemen.[iv] Abdul Salam said that the “humanitarian situation” precedes the “political and negotiating issue” on January 11. Houthi President Mahdi al Mashaat also cited the “humanitarian file” as the “first step” to peace in meetings with the Omani delegation on January 12.[v] The Houthis resolution to the “humanitarian situation” includes Saudi payments to provide salaries to Houthi-controlled government employees, including fighters.[vi]
Pro-government media reported on January 13 that UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg would travel to Sana’a to meet with Houthi officials on January 14.[vii]
Somalia Security Brief:
Puntland State security forces killed the military head of Islamic State–Somalia (IS–S) during an IS–S attack on a security post near Baldhidin, Qandala district, Bari region, northern Somalia, on January 12.[viii] The commander, Abu al Bara al Amani, was from Ethiopia’s Amhara region and succeeded the previous leader in 2021.[ix] The clash also killed one other IS–S militant and a Puntland soldier.[x]
Al Shabaab attacked government employees in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district on their way to an anti-al Shabaab rally on January 12.[xi] Al Shabaab militants threw at least two grenades and shot at two vehicles. The attacks caused several injuries. The Somali Federal Government made the rally mandatory for all government employees.
Al Shabaab raided a village and killed more than 300 livestock near Mahas, Bulo Burde district, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on January 12.[xii] The attack was reportedly in retaliation for local cooperation with government forces.
The Somali National Army and Galmudug State forces continued securing areas near the Mudug-Galgadud regional border, north-central Somalia, on January 13.[xiii] Security forces secured multiple villages in Hobyo and Dhusamareb districts, where they have been operating since January 10.[xiv] US-trained Puntland Security Force soldiers arrived in Hobyo, Mudug region, to support operations at the request of the Galmudug State government on January 12.[xv]
The Somali Federal Government closed 250 bank accounts and 70 mobile money accounts linked to al Shabaab on January 11.[xvi]
The US State Department put a $10 million bounty on al Shabaab leader Mohamoud Abdi Aden as part of the Rewards for Justice program.[xvii] Aden is wanted in connection with the Dusit D2 attack in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2019. The attack killed 21 people, including a US citizen. The State Department also designated Aden as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in October 2022.[xviii]
[i] Office of the Special Envoy – Yemen, Twitter, January 11, 2023, https://twitter.com/OSE_Yemen/status/1613196411390267394.
[ii] Mareb Press, “The conditions of al Mashaat, which he placed on the Omani delegation, and the UN envoy will head to Sana’a tomorrow. The latest developments,” January 13, 2023, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=189829.
[iii] International Organization for Migration-Yemen, “IOM Yemen: Rapid Displacement Tracking – Yemen IDP Dashboard I Reporting Period: 1 to 7 January 2023,” January 11, 2023, https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/iom-yemen-rapid-displacement-tracking-yemen-idp-dashboard-i-reporting-period-1-7-january-2023.
[vi] Liam Karr and Brian Carter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 4, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 4, 2023, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-4-2023.
[vii] Mareb Press, “The conditions of al Mashaat, which he placed on the Omani delegation, and the UN envoy will head to Sana’a tomorrow. The latest developments,” January 13, 2023, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=189829.
[viii] Radio Dalsan, “Puntland claimed to have killed the head of Daesh operations in the Bari region,” January 13, 2023, https://www.radiodalsan.com/wararka-idaacadda/puntland-oo-sheegtay-inay-dishay-madaxii-howlgallada-daacish-ee-gobolka-bari/.
[ix] Guuleed Muuse, “The head of operations of ISIS in Somalia has been killed,” Caasimada, January 13, 2023, https://www.caasimada.net/madaxii-howl-galada-ee-daacishta-soomaaliya-oo-la-dilay-faahfaahin/.
[x] Somali Dispatch, “ISIS attacks Puntland Forces in Bari,” January 13, 2023, https://www.somalidispatch.com/latest-news/isis-attacks-puntland-forces-in-bari/.
[xi] Guuleed Muuse, “After the uprising in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab took an intimidating action,” Caasimada, January 13, 2023, https://www.caasimada.net/kadib-kacdoonkii-muqdisho-al-shabaab-oo-qaaday-tallaabo-cabsi-galin-ah/.
[xii] Qiraat Somali, “Al Shabaab is executing more than 300 goats to spite some of the revolting residents,” January 12, 2023, https://www.qiraatsomali.com/%d8%ad%d8%b1%d9%83%d8%a9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b4%d8%a8%d8%a7%d8%a8-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d8%af%d9%85-%d8%a3%d9%83%d8%ab%d8%b1-%d9%85%d9%86-300-%d9%85%d8%a7%d8%b9%d8%b2-%d9%86%d9%83%d8%a7%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%84%d8%a8/.
[xiv] Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 11, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 11, 2023, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-11-2023.
[xv] Puntland Post, “PSF joined the fighting group to remove al Shabaab from Southern Mudug region,” January 12, 2022, https://puntlandpost.net/2023/01/12/psf-oo-ku-biiray-gulufka-dagaal-ee-al-shabaab-looga-saarayo-koonfurta-gobolka-mudug/.
[xvi] Horseed Media, “The Somali government has announced that al Shabab has closed 250 bank accounts,” January 11, 2023, https://horseedmedia.net/xukuumadda-soomaaliya-oo-shaacisay-in-al-shabaab-laga-xirnay-250-akoon-oo-bangi-376840.
[xvii] Rewards for Justice, “Mohamoud Abdi Aden,” January 12, 2023, https://rewardsforjustice.net/rewards/mohamoud-abdi-aden/#:~:text=Rewards%20for%20Justice%20is%20offering,Hotel%20complex%20in%20Nairobi%2C%20Kenya.
[xviii] Antony J. Blinken, “Terrorist Designation of Al-Shabaab Leaders,” US Department of State, October 17, 2022, https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designation-of-al-shabaab-leaders/.