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 Houthis launch ballistic missile attack in Ma’rib city

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants attack bus in northeastern Kenya; Kenyan man defects from al Shabaab

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthis launched ballistic missiles on unspecified targets in Ma’rib city, the capital of Ma’rib governorate east of the Yemeni capital Sana’a on January 23. The attack killed two people and injured others, according to local sources. UN-backed Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammad Abdullah al Hadrami announced that the government would halt its obligations to the Hudaydah agreement and blamed the al Houthis for threatening to derail the peace efforts. The UN brokered the agreement seeking to implement a ceasefire and demilitarize the Yemeni port city of al Hudaydah, located along the central-western Yemeni coastline. Suspected al Houthis conducted a ballistic missile and drone attack on a Hadi government military training camp in Ma’rib governorate on January 18. The attack has sparked an escalation of violence around Sana’a with the Saudi-led coalition launching retaliatory airstrikes on al Houthi militants in eastern Sana’a governorate on January 23.[1]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Suspected al Shabaab militants ambushed a bus in Wajir county, located in northeastern Kenya on January 24. The attack injured two people. Witnesses said the militants shot at the bus damaging its front tire, causing passengers to disembark and flee to safety.[2]

A Kenyan citizen turned himself in to Kenyan police in the capital of Nairobi after claiming to have defected from al Shabaab. The Kenyan said he joined the group in June 2019 and traveled to the country’s coastal city of Mombasa in November 2019. He then traveled to Mandera county and departed for Somalia where he trained with the militants and pledged his loyalty to the group. The young man said he escaped al Shabaab after a month of training in Somalia and traveled back to Kenya through Garissa county. The suspect remains in Kenyan Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) custody while the unit interrogates him. Zubair al Muhajir, formerly a senior al Shabaab member, defected in October 2019 and turned himself in to the Somali Federal Government. Al Muhajir expressed frustration with the group’s hypocrisy and remains in government custody [3]

[1]“Yemen: Battles continue in Nihm and the Hudaydah agreement freezes,” Al Jazeera, January 24, 2020,اليمن-معارك-صنعاء-وزير-الخارجية-اتفاق-الحديدة; “UNMHA, Hudayduh Agreement,” UN, January 16, 2019,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 23, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 23, 2020,

[2] “2 injured in suspected al-Shabaab bus attack,” Nation, January 24, 2020,

[3] “Kenyan man surrenders to police, claims to be al Shabaab defector,” Garowe, January 24, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 22, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 22, 2020,

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