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: Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi explosive-laden drone and drone boat; al Houthis condemn US FTO designation; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate; STC forms new security force unit in Aden

Horn of Africa: Danab forces claim control of al Shabaab–held territory in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab claims responsibility for landmine explosion near Mogadishu; al Shabaab allegedly takes control of territory in Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief:

Saudi-led coalition forces claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone launched toward Saudi Arabia on January 22. The coalition also claimed to intercept an al Houthi remote-controlled improvised explosive device boat, known as a drone boat, in the southern Red Sea the same day. The Saudi-led coalition previously claimed intercepting an al Houthi drone boat in November 2020.[i]

The al Houthi movement condemned on January 19 the US Department of State’s designation of the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The al Houthi movement’s political bureau declared the US the Yemeni people’s “number one enemy” and said it would “take any necessary steps towards any hostile step.”[ii]

Al Houthi militants and anti–al Houthi forces clashed in Murad front in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on January 22. Al Houthi militants attacked anti–al Houthi forces in Ma’rib governorate’s Rahabah district in early January.[iii]

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) established a new military force unit, the Aden Ring Belt Forces, in Yemen’s de facto capital Aden. The STC rejected some of the internationally recognized Yemeni president’s political appointments on January 17.[iv]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Somali Danab special forces claimed control of al Shabaab–held territory near Jamame in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on January 20. US Africa Command conducted airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants near Jamame on January 19.[v]

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a landmine explosion in Garasbaley town near Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on January 21. The attack killed a Garasbaley deputy commissioner and three others.[vi]

Al Shabaab allegedly took control of territory in Jowhar district in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on January 21.[vii]

[i] “Saudi-led forces say thwart two attacks by Yemen’s Houthis,” Reuters, January 22, 2021,; and Hannah Kuperman and Luc Sasseville, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – November 13, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 13, 2020,

[ii] “Ansar Allah (Houthi Movement) Says Terrorist Designation Reveals U.S. as ‘Number One Enemy’ of Yemeni People,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 19, 2021, available by subscription at; and “Issuance of Counter Terrorism General Licenses and related FAQs; Counter Terrorism Designations; Venezuela-related Designations; CAATSA - Russia-related Designations; Yemen-related Designations Updates,” US Department of the Treasury, January 19, 2021,

[iii] “Dead and wounded from Iran’s arm in clashes in southern Ma’rib and eastern al Jawf,” News Yemen Fronts, January 22, 2021,; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 11, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 11, 2021,

[iv] “Yemen: Separatists form new armed force in Aden,” Middle East Monitor, January 22, 2021,

[v] Ardaan Yare, “DANAB forces seize Al-Shabab strongholds,” Mareeg, January 20, 2021,; and “U.S. Africa Command forces conduct two strikes on al-Shabaab operatives,” US Africa Command, January 19, 2021,  

[vi] “Al-Shabab claims responsibility for deadly Somalia explosion,” Hiiraan, January 21, 2021,

[vii] Ardaan Yare, “Al-Shabab seizes new areas in the region,” Mareeg, January 22, 2021,

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