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: Houthi drones attack against Saudi oil infrastructure; a Houthi drone targets Jizan, Saudi Arabia; Saudi and US SOF rescue American nationals in Houthi custody
Somalia: The US military asks President Biden to redeploy US special forces to Somalia; al Shabaab claims to capture a strategically important town in central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
The Houthis launched at least nine explosive-laden drones targeting Saudi Aramco facilities in Riyadh, Abha, and Jizan, Saudi Arabia, on March 11.[i] The Saudi energy ministry reported that the attack on Aramco facilities in Riyadh caused a small fire but did not cause any casualties.[ii] Houthi officials previously threatened to conduct drone and missile strikes against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on March 8.[iii]
The Houthis launched an explosives-laden drone targeting Jizan city, southwestern Saudi Arabia, on March 9.[iv] The Saudi-led coalition intercepted the drone. The coalition claimed the Houthis launched the drone from Hudaydah governorate.
Saudi and US special operations forces (SOF) rescued two American nationals held by the Houthis in Sana’a city, Yemen.[v] The operation took place in January 2022.
Somalia Security Brief:
The US military has asked President Biden to station several hundred US SOF in Somalia on March 10.[vi] Unnamed military sources said the soldiers are needed to help support Somali counterterrorism forces amidst an “uptick” in al Shabaab activity since US forces withdrew in January 2021. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander Gen. Stephen Townsend and intelligence officials previously warned that al Shabaab could threaten the US homeland if there is not an increase in counterterrorism pressure.[vii] US SOF have continued training elite Somali commando groups through periodic visits to Somalia after former US President Donald Trump withdrew the approximately 700 troops to Kenya and Djibouti in January 2021.
Al Shabaab captured Mataban town in Beledweyne district, Hiraan region, central Somalia, on March 10.[viii] Mataban city is a strategic town situated in the middle of the main road between southern and northern Somalia. The Somali Federal Government (SFG) deployed Turkish-trained Gorgor and Haramcad special forces from nearby Beledweyne and Guriel to secure Mataban on March 11.[ix]
[i] @Yahya_Saree, Twitter, March 11, 2022, https://twitter.com/Yahya_Saree/status/1502265173813481477?s=20&t=IKmoNZXML4y1633-WM9xUg.
[ii] Akhbar Yemen, “The Saudi Ministry of Energy: An attack on the Riyadh refinery resulted in a small fire that was controlled, and there were no injuries or deaths,” March 11, 2022, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/3051005.
[iii] Christopher Muth and Max Ryabinin, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 9, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-9-2022.
[iv] Al Bawaba, “The coalition destroys a Houthi drone towards Saudi Arabia,” March 9, 2022, https://www.albawaba.com/ar/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%91%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%B7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-1469315.
[v] Reuters, “Two American women rescued from Yemen's Houthis in U.S.-Saudi operation -source,” March 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/two-young-american-women-rescued-yemens-houthis-us-saudi-operation-source-2022-03-10/; SPA News, “Politician / Ministry of Defense: liberating two American citizens after restricting their freedom and exposing them to ill-treatment in the capital, Sanaa, under the control of the Houthis, and transferring them to Riyadh,” March 10, 2022, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=ar&newsid=2336521.
[vi] Michael M. Phillips, “U.S. Military Urges Biden to Place Commandos in Somalia as Militant Threat Worsens,” Wall Street Journal, March 10,2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-military-urges-biden-to-place-commandos-in-somalia-as-militant-threat-worsens-11646914851?mod=Searchresults_pos1&page=1
[vii] Carla Baab, “VOA Exclusive: US AFRICOM Commander Says Russian Mercenaries in Mali,” Voice of America, January 20, 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/voa-exclusive-us-africom-commander-says-russian-mercenaries-in-mali/6406371.html.
[viii] SITE Intelligence Group, “Al Shabaab announces its control over strategic city bisecting highway from morthern to southern Somalia,” March 10, 2022, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-Threat-Statements/shabaab-announces-its-control-over-strategic-city-bisecting-highway-from-northern-to-southern-somalia.html
[ix] Horseed Media, “Gorgor and Haramcad troops deployed in Mataban,” March 11, 2022, https://horseedmedia.net/2022/03/11/ciidamo-ka-tirsan-gor-gor-iyo-haramcad-oo-la-geeyey-matabaan/.