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: UAE-backed forces recapture district in Shabwah; al Houthis use advanced loitering munition; al Houthi drone targets Saudi Arabia; key US officials meet with Gulf officials over Yemen and maritime security

Somalia: National Consultative Council discussions almost disintegrate without an agreement; pro-Farmaajo troops muster in Mogadishu; Somali leaders discuss having AMISOM troops guard Villa Somalia; al Shabaab attacks village in central Somalia; al Shabaab ambush kills four police officers in latest attack in southeastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief:

The UAE-backed Giants Forces recaptured most of Bayhan district, Shabwah governorate, central Yemen from al Houthi forces on January 7.[i] The al Houthi movement seized Bayhan district in the in late September, during their fall offensive against southern Ma’rib governorate.[ii]

The al Houthi movement likely used a likely Iranian-made 358 loitering munition in an assassination attempt on the Southern Transitional Council’s director in Shabwah governorate on January 3.[iii] The 358 did not explode.[iv] The 358 is a surface-to-air system. The al Houthis likely fired this 358 as a surface-to-surface missile.

The al Houthi movement launched one drone targeting Saudi Arabia on January 5.[v] Saudi air defenses intercepted the drone. Saudi media did not specify the missile’s exact target within Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan discussed Yemen, Sudan, and Ethiopia in a phone call on January 4.[vi] The call occurred two days after the al Houthi movement seized an Emirati cargo vessel on January 2.[vii] The US Fifth Fleet commander held a video conference with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General to discuss maritime security on January 4.[viii]


Somalia Security Brief:

The National Consultative Council (NCC) nearly fell apart during the fourth day of discussions on January 6.[ix] Sources said the participants almost abandoned talks but decided to take a break and meet in smaller groups before trying to resume discussions. The South West president reportedly threatened to leave if the council kept discussing security issues, specifically announcing the transfer of control of the armed forces to Prime Minister Roble. The participants will have Friday off before reconvening on Saturday.

Troops supporting outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmaajo) may be mobilizing in areas of Mogadishu. Keydmedia reported that Farmaajo-loyalist infantry commander General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi is organizing troops in Hodan, Hawl Wadag, Daynile, and Yaqshid districts, Mogadishu.[x] Bihi will deploy the soldiers if any National Consultative Council agreements target Farmaajo.

Somali leaders discussed a proposal to request African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops guard the presidential palace in NCC meetings on January 6.[xi] Some of the leaders believe the use of AMISOM forces would reduce tensions and the possibility of civil war between soldiers loyal to the president and prime minister. Prime Minister Roble is reportedly open to the idea, but Farmaajo and his allies are more hesitant.

Al Shabaab militants tried to seize Bahdo village in northeastern Galgudud region of central Somalia on January 7.[xii] Local militias and state forces confronted the attackers and eventually repelled them after they briefly entered parts of the town. Security officials claim the defenders killed 20 killed al Shabaab fighters.[xiii]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed police convoy near Milihoi village in Lamu County, southeastern Kenya.[xiv]  The militants killed four police officers. Al Shabaab killed seven civilians in several attacks across Lamu County earlier in the week of January 3.[xv]

[i] Al Bawabah, “The giants reveal the fragility of the Houthi militia and are able to liberate Bayhan,” January 7, 2022,

[ii] Anadolu Agency, “Yemen.. Houthis control the “Harib” district in Ma’rib,” September 22, 2021,

[iii] South24 English, Twitter, January 3, 2022,

[iv] Vleckie Hond, Twitter, January 3, 2022,

[v] Saudi Press Agency, Twitter, January 5, 2022,

[vi] US State Department, “Secretary Blinken’s call with the United Arab Emirates Minister of Freign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan,” January 4, 2022,

[vii] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 5, 2022,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, January 5, 2022,

[viii] NAVCENT Public Affairs, “ Readout of Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Vice Adm. Brad Cooper's Video Call with Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General H. E. Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf,” January 5, 2022,

[ix] Mohamed Abukar, “What was the outcome of today’s National Consultative Assembly meeting?,” BadweynTimes, January 6, 2022,

[x] Keydmedia, “Largest troop gathering in the capital,” January 6, 2022,

[xi] Caasimada, “AMISOM to take over security of the presidential palace and issues to be resolved in the R/W Roble Debate,” January 7, 2022,

[xii] Radio Dalsan, “Details emerge from the heavy fighting that took place this morning in Baxdo area,” January 7, 2022,

[xiii] SONNA, “Galmudug security forces repulse a terrorist attack on Bahdo district, 20 militants killed,” January 7, 2022,

[xiv] Nation Africa, Twitter,, January 7, 2022; Margot Kiser, Twitter,, January 7, 2022.

[xv] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 5, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 5, 2022,

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