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 ceases participation in US-led Combined Maritime Forces; Houthi forces launch simultaneous ground and ballistic missile attack in Shabwa; 2nd Military Region commander visits UAE
Somalia: US-trained special forces with US drone support clash with al Shabaab militants in area of southern Somalia where US recently sanctioned al Shabaab commanders
Yemen Security Brief
The UAE said on May 31 that it was “not participating” in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which is headquartered at the US Navy’s base in Bahrain and focuses on counterterrorism and counter-piracy.[i] The UAE said it remained a part of the CMF, however. The UAE also added that reports that the Emirati Navy stopped participating due to Emirati frustrations stemming from a lack of US response to Iranian tanker seizures were a “mischaracterization” of events. The UAE did not offer a reason for ceasing to participate in the CMF.
Houthi forces launched a ballistic missile targeting the 5th Shabwani Defense Brigade in an effort to disrupt the 5th Brigade’s response to a Houthi ground assault on May 31.[ii] The Houthis fired the ballistic missile as a ground assault began against the 5th Brigade in Markah al Alya, Shabwah governorate, southern Yemen.
Second Military Region Commander Maj. Gen. Fayez al Tamimi traveled to the UAE to meet with Emirati officials to discuss “the 2nd Military Region and the conditions within its” area of responsibility on June 1.[iii]
Somalia Security Brief
US-trained Danab special forces supported by US Africa Command drones clashed with al Shabaab militants near Wayanta, Kismayo district, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on June 1.[iv] AFRICOM conducted a self-defense drone strike after Danab had engaged al Shabaab militants that killed at least three al Shabaab militants.[v] The US sanctioned three al Shabaab commanders and officials in the Wayanta area on May 24.[vi] The individuals have organized attacks on nearby bases and run a prison holding at least 80 civilians.
[i] Lisa Barrington, “UAE says it has stopped taking part in US-led Gulf maritime coalition,” Reuters, May 31, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/uae-says-it-withdrew-us-led-maritime-coalition-two-months-ago-2023-05-31/.
[iv] Somali National TV, @sntvnews1, June 2, 2023, https://twitter.com/sntvnews1/status/1664603504177037313?s=20.
[v] US Africa Command, “U.S. forces engage insurgents in support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” June 2, 2023, https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/35214/us-forces-engage-insurgents-in-support-of-the-federal-government-of-somalia.
[vi] US Department of Treasury, “Treasury Designates Terror Operatives and Illicit Charcoal Smugglers in Somalia,” May 24, 2023, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1499.