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: ROYG recognizes Houthi-issued passports to open Sana’a airport; CENTCOM emphasizes anti-smuggling operations with Saudi Arabia; local Houthi leaders agree to deal with AQAP

Somalia: US-trained special forces clear al Shabaab bases in southwestern Somalia; al Shabaab ambushes an Ethiopian ATMIS convoy in southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief:

The Yemeni government agreed to recognize Houthi-issued passports to facilitate the opening of Sana’a International Airport on May 12. Flights from Sana’a will go only to Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt. The Yemeni Embassy in Jordan will issue Yemeni government-issued passports to travelers upon their arrival in Amman.[i] The government did not specify if the Embassy in Cairo would issue passports.

The new US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Gen. Erik Kurilla said anti-smuggling operations in partnership with the Royal Saudi Navy will be an “area of focus” for him in an interview with Saudi state media outlet al Arabiya.[ii] CENTCOM established Combined Task Force 153 to target Iranian weapon smuggling to the Houthis on April 17.[iii]

Several key local Houthi leaders met with a local al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander in al Bayda governorate on or around May 12.[iv] The Houthis reportedly agreed to release “dozens” of AQAP militants in return for AQAP attacks targeting Yemeni government-aligned forces in the south.

Somalia Security Brief:

US-trained Danab special forces cleared al Shabaab bases in Kismayo district, Lower Jubba, southwestern Somalia, on May 11.[v] Danab officials claimed to clear nine camps and kill 17 militants.

Al Shabaab ambushed an Ethiopian African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) convoy near Teeda village, Hudur district, Bakool region, southwestern Somalia.[vi] Al Shabaab claimed the attack killed nine Ethiopians and wounded six more soldiers.

[i] Al Montasaf, “Yemeni government: Travelers to Jordan with passports from Sana’a will be issued legal passports from the Yemeni embassy in Amman,” May 12, 2022,; and Aziz el Yaakoubi and Muhammad Alghabori, “Yemen’s warring sides reach deal on stalled Sanaa flights, officials say,” Reuters, May 12, 2022,

[ii] Al Arabiya, “CENTCOM chief hits out at Iran, says US committed to Middle East partners,” May 12, 2022,

[iii] Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF: 153 Red Sea Maritime Security,” n.d.,

[iv] Khabar Agency, “’Khabar’ reveals the details of the meeting between the Houthi militia and al Qaeda leaders in al Bayda,” May 12, 2022,

[v] Goobjoog, “Danab Commandos kill 17 al Shabaab militants in Jubbaland and South West States, May 12, 2022,

[vi] Somalimemo, “13 Ethiopian soldiers killed in attacks on Hudur and Baidoa,” May 12, 2022,

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