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: US Secretary of State announces partial halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes on al Houthis in Ma’rib governorate; al Majed brigade claims targeting al Houthis with missiles in al Bayda governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases video documenting Manda Bay attackers’ preparation; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate IED in Kenya; Jubbaland and Puntland States appoint polling committees for national elections
Yemen Security Brief:
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on January 27 that Biden’s administration halted some US arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, which supports the internationally recognized Yemeni government fighting the al Houthi movement. He also said reviewing the Department of State’s designation of the al Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization is a priority.[i]
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Houthi positions in Madghal district in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on January 29. The coalition launched airstrikes on al Houthi militants in Ma’rib governorate’s al Mashjah front on January 25.[ii]
The al Majed brigade claimed to target al Houthi militants with missiles in Mukayras district in southern Yemen’s al Bayda governorate on January 28.[iii]
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
Al Shabaab released a video on January 29 documenting its militants’ training leading up to its January 2020 Manda Bay attack in Kenya. The attack marked al Shabaab’s first attack against US forces in Kenya and killed three US citizens.[iv]
Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device in northeastern Kenya’s Mandera County on January 27, killing one Kenyan security officer and injuring at least three others. Suspected al Shabaab militants targeted telecommunications infrastructure in Mandera County in mid-January.[v]
Somalia’s Jubbaland and Puntland States appointed polling committees on January 27 to oversee the country’s presidential elections scheduled for February 2021. Jubbaland’s president previously refused to hold elections so long as the Somali National Army remained in Jubbaland State’s Gedo region.[vi]
[i] Conor Finnegan, “As Biden reviews US-Saudi relations, pressure rises to remake ties over Khashoggi killing, Yemen war,” ABC News, January 28, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-reviews-us-saudi-relations-pressure-rises-remake/story?id=75475490.
[ii] “Air strikes on al Houthi militia sites and gatherings in Ma’rib and Sa’ada,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, January 29, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/192900; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 25, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 25, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-25-2021.
[iii] “Al Majid brigade target al Houthi positions with missiles in al Ba’amar area,” Yemen Akhbar, January 29, 2021, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/2684041.
[iv] “Shabaab Video Documents Preparation, Conduct of Raid on U.S. Naval Base in Manda Bay,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 29, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Emily Estelle, “Africa File,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 10, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/africa-file/africa-file-january-9-2020-briefing.
[v] “Roadside blast kills security officer, injures 3 others in NE Kenya,” Hiiraan, January 29, 2021, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Jan/181507/roadside_blast_kills_security_officer_injures_3_others_in_ne_kenya.aspx; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 13, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 13, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-13-2021.
[vi] “Jubbaland, Puntland bow to pressure, appoint poll teams,” Hiiraan, January 28, 2021, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Jan/181499/jubbaland_puntland_bow_to_pressure_appoint_poll_teams.aspx; and “Jubbaland and Puntland announce long-awaited committee,” Mareeg, January 28, 2021, https://mareeg.com/jubbaland-iyo-puntland-oo-shaaciyay-guddi-muddo-laga-sugayay-xili-ay-horey/; and Rahma Bayrakdar, Jessica Kocan, and Emily Estelle, “Africa File: Al Qaeda’s East Africa affiliate will gain from US withdrawal, regional instability,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 4, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/africa-file/africa-file-al-qaedas-east-africa-affiliate-will-gain-from-us-withdrawal-regional-instability.