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: Yemeni president returns to Aden; Yemeni president places new Saudi proxy force under his direct command; al Hizam Security Forces intercept VBIED

Somalia: SNA clears al Shabaab haven in southern Somalia with US air support; Somali military court sentences wife of Islamic State–Somalia leader to eight years in prison

Yemen Security Brief:

Yemeni President Rashad al Alimi returned to Aden on January 28.[i] Alimi was last in Aden in early December 2022.[ii]

Alimi placed the Saudi-established and -trained National Shield Forces under his direct command on January 28 after he returned to Aden.[iii] An unspecified security source told al Araby al Jadeed that Saudi Arabia aims to use the National Shield Forces to counterbalance Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed units. Saudi Arabia deployed the National Shield Forces to Aden on November 8, 2022.[iv] The National Shield Forces reportedly took over control of al Anad Airbase, Lahij governorate, southern Yemen, from the UAE-backed 4th Military Region commander in December 2022. The 4th Military Region commander may have refused the order, however.[v]

The STC-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Aden intercepted a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Bir Ahmed, northwestern Aden governorate, southern Yemen, on January 28.[vi] Unknown militants transporting the VBIED between Taiz city and Aden city. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may have been responsible for the VBIED, though other groups, including the STC, pro-Yemeni government factions, and the Houthis also conduct assassinations against their opposition in Aden.

Somalia Security Brief:

Somali National Army and National Intelligence and Security Agency forces with likely US drone support cleared al Shabaab from a forested area near Janaale in Qoryooley district, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on January 29.[vii] Somali officials claimed the attack killed 136 al Shabaab members, including three commanders.

A Somali military court sentenced the wife of Islamic State-Somalia (IS-S) head Abdul Qadir Mu’min to eight years in prison in Mogadishu.[viii] The wife reportedly helped facilitate logistics, media, and financing in Mogadishu and had ties to deceased IS–S financing leader Bilal al Sudani, who US special forces killed in a raid on January 26.[ix]

[i] Al Araby al Jadeed, “Unresolved Files Await al Alimi in Aden: Establishing the ‘National Shield Forces’ Is The First Decision,” January 29, 2023,

[ii] President Dr. Rashad al Alimi, Facebook, December 3, 2022,[0]=AZW9RIOI8IN21Tj1fgn9Nw3XkT7ApElk4kwrvyL3eCpHS5p_QLXT0_uRR69NqWLI-ao7tQyetaHmUNTBqQk7_UKkn8BuBF74RZFUvopSk9f-b-Y_HIDypLXV-9ecOk3uBzKJSHV7pDSNVhodyUosUBwKzPXmCbCRGWvxzu4yW0i-DSkMCuwAn-uptW9yaAAMnjE&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R.

[iii] Al Araby al Jadeed, “Unresolved Files Await al Alimi in Aden: Establishing the ‘National Shield Forces’ Is The First Decision,” January 29, 2023,

[iv] Aden al Ghad, “Aden: The arrival of new military equipment belonging to the National Shield Brigades,” November 8, 2022,

[v] Aden Hura, “Important Notice from the Fourth Military Region Regarding al Anad Base,” December 24, 2022,; and Aden al Ghad, “Units from the National Shield Brigades Receive Partial Security Tasks for al Anad Airbase,” December 24, 2022,

[vi] Al Hizam Media, “Details… The al Hizam Security Forces Thwarted a Terrorist Plot to Target the Capital, Aden, With a Car Bomb,” January 28, 2023,

[vii] Puntland Post, “The Somali government has claimed the killing of 136 al Shabaab members,” January 29, 2023,

[viii] Puntland Post, “The wife of the leader of ISIS in Somalia was sentenced to military prison,” January 30, 2023,

[ix] Jamaal Maxamed, “The military court sentenced the wife of a leader in Mogadishu,” Caasimada, January 30, 2023,; Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 27, 2023,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute,  

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