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: Al Houthi attack targets Abu Dhabi, UAE; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill civilians in Sana’a; UAE requests US FTO designation for al Houthis; al Houthi official threatens UAE; US Envoy to Yemen to travel to Gulf
Somalia: Al Shabaab suicide attack near Turk-Som military base; police conduct security operations in western Mogadishu; cabinet official alleges rigged election in Puntland
Yemen Security Brief
The al Houthi movement fired at least five Quds-2 missiles and a “large number” of Sammad-3 drones targeting Abu Dhabi, UAE, on January 17.[i] The attack killed three civilians and wounded six more. The attack struck the Abu Dhabi International Airport and an industrial area. An Emirati investigation confirmed the al Houthis conducted the attack on January 18.[ii] This is the first al Houthi attack on the UAE since 2018.[iii]
The Saudi-led coalition conducted an airstrike in Sana’a city on January 18. The attack killed twenty civilians.[iv] The airstrike is one of the deadliest coalition airstrikes since 2019.
The UAE asked the United States to re-designate the al Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on January 17.[v] The US national security advisor and defense secretary condemned the attack on January 17 and January 19 respectively.[vi]
The al Houthi deputy information minister said the al Houthis will “keep responding with military operations” if the UAE continued escalation against the al Houthi movement. [vii]
The US Special Envoy to Yemen Timothy Lenderking will travel to London, UK and the Gulf during the week of January 16 to discuss the Yemeni peace process and encourage de-escalation.[viii]
Somalia Security Brief
An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) at a teashop near the Turkish “Turk-Som” military base in Wadajir district, western Mogadishu, on January 18.[ix] The explosion killed at least four people and injured ten others. Al Shabaab claimed the attack killed at least two dozen soldiers.[x] Turkish officers train Somali special forces at the base. Al Shabaab also targeted this same base with an SVEST attack on June 15, 2021 and condemned Turkish activity in Somalia in the subsequent attack claim.[xi] The attack is the fourth suicide attack in western Mogadishu since January 1.
Banadir police conducted security operations in western Mogadishu on January 18.[xii] Police searched cars entering the city and questioned people in Waberi, Hodan, Howlwadag, Wardhigley, and Heliwa districts. Al Shabaab has conducted four suicide attacks in western Mogadishu in January 2022, including the bombing of a tea shop in Wadajir early on January 18.
The Transport and Civil Aviation Minister alleged election officials rigged a lower house seat election in Puntland on January 19.[xiii] Duran Ahmed Farah said the elders and the delegates whom they appointed had no role in the local community. This is the first electoral rigging allegation since the National Consultative Council agreements on January 9.[xiv]
[i] Yahya Sarea, Twitter, January 17, 2022, https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1483148509943525379?s=20; and Sune Engel Rasmussen and Dion Nissenbaum, “Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim aerial attacks on U.A.E. capital,” The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/yemens-houthi-rebels-claim-suspected-drone-strikes-on-u-a-e-capital-11642416716?mod=hp_listb_pos2; and Kareem Fahim and Siobhan O’Grad, “Three killed in UAE capital in suspected drone attack claimed by Yemen rebels,” The Washington Post, January 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/17/uae-abu-dhabi-drone-oil-tanker-blast/.
[ii] Dion Nissenbaum and Benoit Faucon, “Houthis fired drones and missiles in Abu Dhabi attack, investigation finds,” The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/houthis-fired-barrage-of-drones-and-missiles-in-abu-dhabi-attack-investigation-finds-11642515339.
[iii] Middle East Eye, “Houthi rebels attack Abu Dhabi airport with armed drone: Reports,” July 27, 2018, https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/news/houthi-rebels-attack-abu-dhabi-airport-armed-drone-reports-901730304.
[iv] Reuters, “Around 20 killed in deadliest coalition strikes on Yemen’s Sanaa since 2019,” January 18, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/yemens-houthis-say-12-dead-saudi-led-coalition-strike-al-masirah-tv-reports-2022-01-17/.
[v] Barak Ravid, “UAE asks U.S. to reinstate Houthi terrorist designation after attack,” Axios, January 17, 2022, https://www.axios.com/emiratis-seek-terrorist-designation-blinken-6ca0bed0-3e17-4f73-ac4c-9d24371e82bd.html.
[vi] US Department of Defense, “Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s call with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Zayed al Nahyan of the UAE,” January 19, 2022, https://www.defense.gov/News/Releases/Release/Article/2903936/readout-of-secretary-of-defense-lloyd-j-austin-iiis-call-with-abu-dhabi-crown-p/; and The White House, “State by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Houthi Attack Against UAE,” January 17, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/17/statement-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-on-houthi-attack-against-uae/.
[vii] Sune Engel Rasmussen and Dion Nissenbaum, “Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim aerial attacks on U.A.E. capital,” The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/yemens-houthi-rebels-claim-suspected-drone-strikes-on-u-a-e-capital-11642416716?mod=hp_listb_pos2
[viii] Reuters, “U.S. Yemen envoy heads to Gulf after attacks, to press for peacemaking,” January 19, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/us-yemen-envoy-lenderking-visit-gulf-london-state-department-2022-01-19/.
[ix] Abdirisak Tuuryare, “Four people dead as suicide blast hits café shop in Mogadishu,” Mareeg News, January 18, 2022, https://mareeg.com/four-people-dead-as-suicide-blast-hits-cafe-shop-in-mogadishu/.
[x] Radio al Furqaan, “Explosion hits Turkish base in Mogadishu,” January 18, 2022, https://radioalfurqaan.com/2022/01/qarax-culus-oo-lagu-weeraray-saldhiga-turkiga-ee-muqdisho/.
[xi] Maggie Fick, “At least 15 killed in Somalia suicide bombing claimed by militants,” Reuters, June 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-10-people-killed-suicide-bombing-army-camp-somalia-state-media-2021-06-15/.
[xii] Radio Dalsan, “Somalia: Police Carry Out Operations in Banadir Region,” January 19, 2022, https://www.radiodalsan.com/wararka-idaacadda/ciidanka-booliska-oo-xalay-howlgalo-ka-sameeyay-degmooyin-ka-tirsan-g-banaadir/.
[xiii] Radio Risaala, “Roble Cabinet Minister Condemns HOP 166 Election,” January 19, 2022, https://radiorisaala.com/wasiir-katirsan-xukuumadda-rooble-oo-cabasho-ka-muujiyay-doorashada-kursiga-hop166/.
[xiv] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 10, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 10, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-10-2022.