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: Possible Houthi gunmen assassinate military officer in Ma’rib; Houthi militants attempt to assassinate military commander in Aden with VBIED; first flight departs Sana’a since 2016

Somalia: Biden authorizes the redeployment of SOF to Somalia and Pentagon targeting of al Shabaab leaders; Burundian ATMIS forces abandon base in southern Somalia to consolidate forces in response to al Shabaab’s May 3 raid

Yemen Security Brief:

Possible Houthi gunmen assassinated a 159th Infantry Brigade staff officer in Ma’rib City, central Yemen, on May 14.[i]

Likely Houthi militants detonated a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting the head of Joint Operations in the 4th Military Region in Mualla district, Aden city, southern Yemen on May 15.[ii] The VBIED did not kill the officer, who was riding in an armored car.[iii] Local officials in Aden said the explosives used in the attack were less powerful than the explosives in previous attacks targeting military officers. The Yemeni government accused the Houthis of working with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for the attack.[iv]

A Yemenia Airways flight to Amman, Jordan, on May 16 was the first flight from Sana’a International Airport since 2016.[v] Reopening Sana’a International Airport was one of the stipulations under the UN-brokered truce that began in early April.

Somalia Security Brief:

US President Joe Biden authorized the redeployment of special operations forces to Somalia in early May and granted the Pentagon standing authority to target nearly a dozen al Shabaab leaders.[vi] The order allows for the redeployment of “hundreds” of special force personnel according to anonymous US officials. Former President Donald Trump withdrew US forces from Somalia in January 2021 and adopted an over-the-horizon posture, operating from Kenya and Djibouti. US forces historically gave training, advisory, and logistical support to the Somali National Army Danab special forces. The leak comes less than 24 hours after Somalia elected a new president more than one year after the original election date.[vii]

Burundian ATMIS forces abandoned a forward operating base near Gululei, Balad district, Middle Shabelle, southern Somalia, on May 14.[viii] Al Shabaab immediately took over and looted the base. The troops redeployed to reinforce bases near Bal’ad, Jowhar, and two other towns in Middle Shabelle.[ix] The move is reportedly to prevent al Shabaab from overrunning another base in Middle Shabelle. Al Shabaab overran El Baraf base, Middle Shabelle, on May 3.[x]

[i] Mahra Post, “The assassination of a senior officer in the government forces in Ma’rib,” May 14, 2022,

[ii] Asharq al Awsat, “Yemeni military commander survives assassination attempt in Aden,” May 15, 2022,

[iii] Asharq al Awsat, “An armored car protects a military leader from assassination in Aden,” May 15, 2022,

[iv] Mareb Press, “Urgent al Eryani reveals a joint terrorist operation between al Qaeda and the Houthis,” May 15, 2022,

[v] Ahmed al Haj and Samy Magdy, “1st commercial flight in years takes off from Yemen’s Sanaa,” Associated Press, May 16, 2022,

[vi] Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt, “Biden Approves Plan to Redeploy Several Hundred Ground Forces Into Somalia,” New York Times, May 16, 2022,

[vii] Goobjoog, “Mr. President: Hassan Sheikh Mohamud elected Somalia's 10th President,” May 15, 2022,

[viii] Radio Dalsan, “Al Shabaab seizes control of Bal’ad district in Middle Shabelle,” May 14, 2022,

[ix] @HarunMaruf, Twitter, May 14, 2022,

[x] Christopher Muth and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 4, 2022” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 4, 2022,

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