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: PLC Deputy blesses formation of new Hadrami National Council; STC president says he will hold UN-supervised referendum on southern Yemeni independence; AQAP detonates IED targeting STC-backed forces in Abyan
Somalia: Al Shabaab carries out twin SVBIED bombing in southwestern Somalia; Somali president meets with senior US officials in Washington, DC; Somali forces clear al Shabaab grouping in southern Somalia; ATMIS hands over two FOBs in south-central Somalia as part of phase 1 of its drawdown
Yemen Security Brief
Presidential Leadership Council Deputy Sultan al Arada met with Hadrami National Council (HNC) members on June 23 in Riyadh.[i] Arada “blessed the formation” of the HNC and praised Hadramawt’s role in defending Ma’rib from the Houthis.
Southern Transitional Council (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaidi said on June 23 that he would hold a UN-supervised referendum on southern Yemeni independence in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian.[ii] Zubaidi also committed to investigating war crimes.
Likely al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting the STC-backed Third Support and Reinforcement Brigade in al Masfuha area, eastern Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, Yemen, on June 22.[iii] A military source told southern Yemeni outlet Aden Hura that the IED killed one STC-backed soldier and wounded another.
Somalia Security Brief
Al Shabaab detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) targeting a joint Somali National Army-Ethiopian military base in Bardhere, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on June 21.[iv] Locals claimed the attack killed eight people and injured 19 others.[v]
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with senior US officials in Washington, DC, on June 21. President Mohamud met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, where the two discussed US support for the Somali Federal Government’s fight against al Shabaab, preparations to assume security from withdrawing African Union forces, and development challenges.[vi] President Mohamud also met with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, where the two discussed US support for Somali-led security efforts and the US’s efforts to address food insecurity in Somalia.[vii]
Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces cleared a gathering of al Shabaab militants with unspecified international partner support near Faay Yusuf locality, Afgooye district, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on June 21.[viii] Somali officials said the operation killed at least 45 militants.[ix] Locals tipped off NISA that the al Shabaab militants were planning to attack Barire town.[x]
The African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) handed over two forward operating bases to the Somali National Army (SNA) in the Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, on June 20 and 22.[xi] The SNA took control of the base in Haji Ali, Adale district, on June 20, and the base in Mir Taqwo, Jowhar district, on June 22.[xii] ATMIS plans to transition one more base in Middle Shabelle, three bases in the Lower Shabelle region, and one base in the Gedo region by the end of June as part of the first phase of its drawdown.[xiii]
[i] Al Thawra (ROYG), “al Arada meets with the delegation of the Hadramawt governorate participating in the Riyadh consultations, and praises their role in preserving state institutions and defending the homeland,” June 23, 2023, https://althawra-news.net/news125770.html.
[ii] Patrick Wintour, “Yemen peace talks must accept country is divided in two, says southern leader,” The Guardian, June 23, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/23/yemen-peace-talks-must-accept-country-divided-two-southern-leader.
[iii] Aden Hura, “Details of the terrorist attack in Mudiyah, Abyan,” June 22, 2023, https://aden-hura.com/news/44924; 4May, “The command of the 3rd Support and Reinforcement Brigade mourns the martyrdom of the staff of the First Battalion and the injury of an escort in a terrorist operation in the OMran valley, east of Mudiyah,” June 22, 2023, https://4may.net/news/95229.
[iv] Garowe Online, “Twin Al-Shabaab explosions hit military base in Somalia,” June 21, 2023, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/twin-al-shabaab-explosions-hit-military-base-in-somalia.
[v] Harun Maruf, Twitter, @HarunMaruf, June 21, 2023, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1671530687936057344.
[vi] Jim Garamone, “Somali President, Austin Discuss Future, Partnership During Pentagon Meeting,” DOD News, June 21, 2023, https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/3435055/somali-president-austin-discuss-future-partnership-during-pentagon-meeting.
[vii] United States Mission to the United Nations, “Readout of Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Meeting with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud,” June 21, 2023, https://usun.usmission.gov/readout-of-ambassador-linda-thomas-greenfields-meeting-with-somali-president-hassan-sheikh-mohamud-2.
[viii] Goobjoog, “Government forces kill over 40 Al-Shabaab militants in Lower Shabeelle,” June 22, 2023, https://goobjoog.com/english/government-forces-kill-over-40-al-shabaab-militants-in-lower-shabeelle.
[ix] SONNA, “Successful Military Operation Neutralizes Over 40 Khawarij Militants in Lower Shabeelle Region,” June 21, 2023, https://sonna.so/en/successful-military-operation-neutralizes-over-40-khawarij-militants-in-lower-shabeelle-region.
[x] Shabelle Media, “Somali, foreign forces kill 45 Al-Shabaab members, foil attack,” June 22, 2023, https://shabellemedia.com/somali-foreign-forces-kill-45-al-shabaab-members-foil-attack.
[xi] SONNA, “ATMIS begins drawdown of 2000 troops with the handover of Xaaji Cali forward operating base,” June 20, 2023, https://sonna.so/en/atmis-begins-drawdown-of-2000-troops-with-the-handover-of-xaaji-cali-forward-operating-base.
[xii] ATMIS, Twitter, @ATMIS_Somalia, June 22, 2023, https://twitter.com/ATMIS_Somalia/status/1671797573739241473.
[xiii] Harun Maruf, Twitter, @HarunMaruf, June 23, 2023, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1672185268688891908.