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: AQAP attempts to assassinate southern military leader; Houthi official threatens new attacks against the UAE; GCC considers inviting Houthis to talks, Houthis refuse
Somalia: AFRICOM Commander warns about al Shabaab expansion during a hearing; al Shabaab detonates an IED targeting a Puntland State forces patrol in northern Somalia; al Shabaab detonates an IED targeting a Burundian AMISOM convoy in central Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes Jubbaland State forces in southern Somalia
Yemen Security Brief:
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attempted to assassinate key anti-AQAP commander and Security Belt Forces in Abyan leader with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Zinjibar city, Abyan governorate, Yemen, on March 15.[i] The blast killed two soldiers and wounded al Sayed and one other soldier.
Houthi Supreme Political Council member Mohammed Ali al Houthi threatened new attacks against “sensitive targets” in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, on March 15.[ii] Al Houthi said the Houthis will strike the UAE in retaliation for its role in upholding the blockade on Yemen.
Reuters reported that the Gulf Cooperation Council considered inviting the Houthis to planned talks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 15.[iii] The talks, reportedly intended to take place in late March, will seek to build Yemeni support for UN-backed peace consultations. Houthi Supreme Political Council member Mohammed Ali al Houthi later announced that the Houthis would not participate in any mediation alongside Saudi Arabia.[iv]
Somalia Security Brief:
AFRICOM Commander General Townsend warned about al Shabaab expansion during a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 15.[v] Townsend said counterterrorism forces are “marching in place at best…[and] may be backsliding” due to Somali political dysfunction, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) inactivity, and the reduced effectiveness of US assistance since switching to over-the-horizon operations in January 2021. Townsend claimed al Shabaab wants to re-establish supporting ties with AQAP and warned that it could expand beyond Somalia’s borders and pose an even greater threat to regional stability and US interests if left unchecked. Townsend asserted that the current US over-the-horizon counterterrorism strategy from Kenya and Djibouti is ineffective and puts US troops at risk and that US officials are considering his request to put US forces back in Somalia.
Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting a Puntland State forces patrol in Bossaso, Bari region, northern Somalia, on March 15.[vi] Al Shabaab claimed the IED killed seven soldiers.
Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting a Burundian AMISOM convoy in Buurane, Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia, on March 15.[vii] Al Shabaab claimed the IED killed two soldiers.
Al Shabaab ambushed Jubbaland State forces in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on March 16.[viii] Al Shabaab claimed they killed eight soldiers.
[i] Al Jazeera, “A car bomb explodes in a military convoy in southern Yemen,” March 15, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2022/3/15/%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%81%d8%ac%d8%a7%d8%b1-%d8%b3%d9%8a%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%85%d9%84%d8%ba%d9%88%d9%85%d8%a9-%d9%81%d9%8a-%d9%82%d8%a7%d9%81%d9%84%d8%a9-%d8%b9%d8%b3%d9%83%d8%b1%d9%8a%d8%a9; Akhbar Yemen, “Al Sayed was injured in a suicide bombing targeting his convoy, killing and wounding,” March 15, 2022, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/3053880; Al Bawabh News, “A violent explosion rocks the city of Zinjibar, southern Yemen,” March 15, 2022, https://www.albawabhnews.com/4543632/
[iii] Reuters, “EXCLUSIVE GCC officials consider inviting Yemen Houthis to consultations in Riyadh,” March 15, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/exclusive-gcc-officials-consider-inviting-yemen-houthis-consultations-riyadh-2022-03-15/.
[iv] @Moh_Alhouthi, Twitter, March 15, 2022, https://twitter.com/Moh_Alhouthi/status/1503790380021686281?s=20&t=mFOxVD6ioc2cIcoxIwoucg.
[v] General Stephen J. Townsend, “Testimony on the posture of United States Central Command and United States Africa Command,” U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, March 16, 2022, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/to-receive-testimony-on-the-posture-of-united-states-central-command-and-united-states-africa-command.
[vi] Caasimada, “Al Shabaab claims to have killed seven soldiers in Boosaaso,” March 15, 2022, https://www.caasimada.net/shabaab-oo-sheegatay-inay-boosaaso-ku-dishay-7-askari/.
[vii] Radio al Furqaan, “Explosions rock parts pf Somalia,” March 15, 2022, https://radioalfurqaan.com/2022/03/qaraxyo-khasaare-geestay-oo-ka-dhacay-qeybo-kamid-ah-dalka-soomaaliya/.
[viii] Radio al Furqaan, “Attacks kill at least ten soldiers in Lower Jubba,” March 16, 2022, https://radioalfurqaan.com/2022/03/weeraro-lagu-dilay-ku-dhawaad-10-askari-oo-ka-dhacay-j-hoose/.