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 missiles target Emirati base with US presence in UAE; Houthi missiles target Saudi Arabia; US Navy interdicts vessel carrying explosive material

Somalia: SFG and AU agree on AMISOM reconfiguration; al Shabaab IED kills six in southern Somalia; counterterrorism forces ambush al Shabaab militants in central Somalia; new US ambassador arrives in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

The Houthi movement launched two ballistic missiles targeting al Dhafra airbase, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on January 24.[i] Emirati and American air defenses intercepted both missiles. Al Dhafra is an Emirati-operated airbase and the headquarters for a US Air Force wing providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, refueling, and command and control support. The Emirati Defense Ministry said the attack did not cause any casualties.

The Houthi movement conducted two ballistic missile attacks targeting southern Saudi Arabia on January 23-24. The first attack targeted Jizan region and injured two civilians on January 23.[ii] The second attack targeted Dhahran al Janoub, Asir region, Saudi Arabia on January 24.[iii] Saudi air defenses intercepted the missiles, but missile fragments damaged some workshops and civilian vehicles.

Two US Navy vessels interdicted an un-flagged vessel transporting 40 lbs. of an agricultural chemical compound “used as an explosive precursor” on January 18. [iv] The US Navy interdicted the vessel on a known Houthi weapons trafficking route. The US Navy boarded the same vessel February 2021.

Somalia Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government and African Union agreed to reconfigure the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) after talks concluded on January 22.[v] AMISOM will become the African Union Transitional Mission to Somalia (ATMIS). ATMIS forces will initially retain the gains made by AMISOM since 2007 and share sector boundaries with Somali government forces to promote increased joint operations. ATMIS will consist of military, police, and civilian components to help ensure government forces are fully prepared to assume responsibility for Somali security by December 31, 2023.

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in a teashop in Qalimow village, between Jowhar and Balad, in the Middle Shabelle region of southern Somalia on January 24.[vi] The explosion killed three civilians and three soldiers.[vii]

Galmudug Darawish and SNA Gorgor soldiers ambushed al Shabaab militants at Showro village, near Guriel in the Galgudud region of central Somalia on January 23.[viii] Counterterrorism forces killed six al Shabaab militants, including a regional commander, and disarmed a vehicle-borne IED.[ix] Military officials said the al Shabaab insurgents were planning to attack Guriel town.

The new US Ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre arrived in Mogadishu on January 24.[x] Andre officially assumed the position on December 21 in Washington DC.

[i] Emirates News Agency (WAM), “The Ministry of Defense announces the interception and destruction of two ballistic missiles launched by the terrorist Houthi group towards the UAE,” January 24, 2022,; and Yahya Sarea, Twitter, January 24, 2022,; and Jon Gambrell, “UAE, US intercept Houthi missile attack targeting Abu Dhabi,” Associated Press, January 24, 2022,

[ii] Saudi Press Agency, Twitter, January 23, 2022,

[iii] Al Bawabah, “Arab coalition: Saudi defenses destroy a ballistic missile launched towards Dhahran al Janoub,” January 24, 2022,

[iv] NAVCENT Public Affairs, “US Navy interdicts stateless vessel previously caught smuggling weapons,” January 23, 2022,

[v] Garowe Online, “Somalia strikes deal with AU over future of AMISOM,” January 22, 2022,

[vi] Istar Cabdi Yusuuf, “Latest news: Explosion in Middle Shabelle casualties,” Caasimada, January 24, 2022,

[vii] Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 24, 2022,

[viii] Somali Dispatch, “SNA, Galmudug forces kill al-Shabaab commanders in central Somalia,” January 23, 2022,

[ix] Horseed Media, “Somali army kills 6 al-Shabab militants in central region,” January 23, 2022,

[x] US Embassy in Mogadishu, Twitter, January 24, 2022,

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