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: Houthis commit to national unity in negotiations; STC President gives speech highlight STC aspirations to form independent southern state; STC president says parity between north and south Yemenis in key positions is no longer acceptable; Houthi official meets with US-designated terrorist group leader in Iraq
Somalia: Al Shabaab releases statement and media of recent consultative forum on East African jihad; likely US-Somali drone strike targets de facto al Shabaab capital in southern Somalia; likely al Shabab IED attack in Mogadishu kills five Turkish-trained soldiers; SNA kills regional zakat collection head in central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Houthi media said on May 21 that the “political dialogue after the departure of foreign forces” will operate within a framework of national “unity.”[i] Houthi media accused the Southern Transitional Council (STC) of attempting to drive Hadrami tribes to secede from Yemen as part of the STC. The Houthis also claimed that the Islah Party in Hadramawt seeks to create a separate Hadrami state.[ii]
STC President and Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Deputy Aydarus al Zubaidi gave a speech at the sixth STC National Assembly on May 21 in which he highlighted the STC’s aspirations to form an independent southern Yemeni state.[iii]
STC President and PLC Deputy Zubaidi said on May 22 that parity between northern and southern Yemenis in government positions, the negotiating delegation with the Houthis, and the PLC is “no longer acceptable.”[iv]
A senior Houthi official met with US-designated terrorist organization Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Abu Fadak al Muhammadawi in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 20.[v] The Houthi official arrived in Baghdad from Sana’a International Airport.
Somalia Security Brief
Al Shabaab released a concluding statement and other media from its second consultative forum on jihad in East Africa on May 21.[vi] The group held the conference from May 8–15, likely in its de facto capital Jilib, in the Middle Jubba region of southern Somalia. Most of the concluding statement centered around fighting foreign influence in Somalia, including Ethiopia, Kenya, US, UAE, Turkey, and other states with influence in Somalia. The statement also broke down Shabaab’s grievances into spheres of military, economic, and political “invasions.” Pictures of the event that show al Shabaab Emir Abu Ubaidah and senior officials at the conference.[vii]
A likely joint US-Somali drone strike targeted Jilib city, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia, on May 22.[viii] The Somali Federal Government said the strike was carried out “with international allies,” which usually references the United States.[ix] The SFG said the attack caused significant casualties and material damage, but the SFG declined to identify a specific target.
Likely al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device targeting Turkish-trained Gorgor special forces in Daynile district, Mogadishu, on May 22.[x] The attack killed at least five soldiers.
Somali National Army forces killed al Shabaab’s zakat official for Galmudug State near Towfiq, El Dheere district, Galgudud region, on May 20.[xi] The official reportedly collapsed with a heart attack and was shot while SNA forces were chasing him and two other bodyguards after locals tipped off security forces.[xii]
[iii] SMA News, “President al Zubaidi inaugurates the work of the sixth session of the National Assembly. Text of the President’s Speech,” May 21, 2023, https://smanews.org/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ac%d9%86%d9%88%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b9%d8%b1%d8%a8%d9%8a/336658/.
[iv] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Aydarus al Zubaidi announces moves to reconfigure the Presidential Leadership Council and the government: We will not accept equality after today (video)” May 22, 2023, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/255590.
[v] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “A Houthi Leader appears in a meeting with the leadership of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq after leaving through Sana’a Airport,” May 21, 2023, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/255521.
[vi] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Convenes 2nd Consultative Forum on Jihad in East Africa, Warns Somalis of Foreign Plots by America, Ethiopia, and UAE,” May 22, 2023, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Jihadist-Threat-Statements/shabaab-convenes-2nd-consultative-forum-on-jihad-in-east-africa-warns-somalis-of-foreign-plots-by-america-ethiopia-and-uae.html
[vii] Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, May 21, 2023, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1660326350127783937?s=20
[viii] SONNA, @SONNALIVE, May 22, 2023, https://twitter.com/SONNALIVE/status/1660698109339660288?s=20
[ix] United States Africa Command, “U.S. forces conduct strike in Somalia targeting al-Shabaab leader,” October 3, 2022, https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/34758/us-forces-conduct-strike-in-somalia-targeting-al-shabaab-leader
[x] Hussein Mohammed, @HussienM12, Twitter, May 22, 2023, https://twitter.com/HussienM12/status/1660555173201080321?s=20; Garowe Online Breaking News, @GO_Breaking, Twitter, May 22, 2023, https://twitter.com/GO_Breaking/status/1660569034104995840?s=20
[xi] SNTV, @sntvnews1, Twitter, May 20, 2023, https://twitter.com/sntvnews1/status/1659972114332385280?s=20
[xii] Garowe Online, “Al-Shabaab finance chief killed in Somalia,” May 21, 2023, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/al-shabaab-finance-chief-killed-in-somalia