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: Likely al Houthi car bomb targets journalists in Aden; Saudi forces withdraw from Aden; UNSC sanctions three al Houthi officials; al Houthi missiles target Saudi Arabia; al Houthis detain 25 US embassy workers in Sana’a

Somalia: SFG insists on Somali Transition Plan in meetings with African Union; SNA forces secure areas in southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

A likely al Houthi car bomb targeted two journalists in Aden, southern Yemen on November 9.[i] The bomb killed one journalist and wounded the other. Both journalists worked for Gulf-based television news stations. The al Houthi movement had threatened both journalists on October 6. 

Saudi forces withdrew from a base in al Buraiqeh district in Aden on November 9.[ii] Saudi forces also withdrew from Ataq in Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen on October 31.[iii] Saudi forces consolidated their presence in al Mahrah governorate in western Yemen on November 1.[iv]

The UN Security Council sanctioned the al Houthi commander of the Ma’rib offensive, the al Houthi assistant defense minister for logistics, and the al Houthi commander responsible for al Hudaydah on November 9.[v] The sanctions were imposed under Resolution 2140.

The al Houthi movement launched three ballistic missiles targeting an unspecified location in southern Saudi Arabia on November 10.[vi] Saudi air defenses intercepted the missiles.

The al Houthi movement detained 25 workers at the US embassy in Sana’a in October and November 2021.[vii] US embassy employees still protected the building premises. The embassy closed in 2015.

Somalia Security Brief

Somali Federal Government (SFG) officials pushed African Union officials to agree to the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan in recent meetings.[viii] The transition plan would give Somali federal and provincial forces the lead role in counterterrorism operations and phase out African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops after the expiration of their current mandate at the end of 2021.[ix] The African Union wants to continue the existing AMISOM mission with a reorganized joint African Union–UN force.[x] Somali Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Abdirizak said the Somali Transition Plan will be the SFG’s position now and in the future and emphasized that there “is no option available” without Somali consent.[xi] Tensions over the disagreement have been simmering for months and likely contributed to the recent SFG decision to expel an African Union official on November 4.[xii]

Somali National Army (SNA) forces continued securing areas around Garbaharey in Gedo Region, southwestern Somalia, in preparation for lower house elections. SNA soldiers secured Barwaqo and other villages on the outskirts of Garbaharey on November 9.[xiii] The SNA entered Garbaharey on November 2.[xiv] Al Shabaab has effectively controlled Garbaharey and the surrounding area for years between election-related security operations.[xv]

[i] Baseem al Jenani, Twitter, November 9, 2021,; and Reuters, “Yemeni journalist killed in car explosion in Aden,”

[ii] Mareb Press, “Large Saudi forces withdrew from al Buraiqeh in Aden,” November 10, 2021,

[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “News of the Saudi forces leaving Shabwah governorate a week after the withdrawal of the Emirati forces… and the disclosure of their next destination,” November 1, 2021,

[iv] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 1, 2021,

[v] United Nations Security Council, “Saleh Mesfer Saleh al Shaer,” November 9, 2021,; and United Nations Security Council, “Muhammad al Ghamari,” November 9, 2021,; and United Nations Security Council, “Yusuf al Madani,” November 9, 2021,

[vi] Khabar Agency, “Saudi Arabia intercepts 3 Houthi ballistic missiles,” November 10, 2021,; and Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Houthi missile bombing targeting Saudi Arabia… and a military declaration by the Arab coalition,” November 10, 2021,

[vii] Mohammed Hatem, “Iran-backed Houthis detain 25 Yemenis working for US,” Bloomberg, November 9, 2021,

[viii] T. Roble, “Somalia softens stance on post-AMISOM force, says willing to negotiate,” Goobjoog, November 10, 2021,

[ix] Mohamed Kahiye, “Somali Forces Are Planning to Take Lead for Their Country’s Security,” Voice of America, April 16, 2021,

[x] Harun Maruf, “AU Endorses Joint Mission with UN for Somalia,” Voice of America, October 11, 2021,

[xi] Mohamed Adan, “Somalia insists rejection of AU proposal for hybrid forces,” Somali Dispatch, November 10, 2021,

[xii] T. Roble, “Somalia expels AMISOM deputy, declares him unwanted,” Goobjoog, November 04, 2021,; and Radio Risaala, “Somali government expels African Union deputy ambassador to Somalia,” November 04, 2021,

[xiii] Omar Nor, “SNA seizes control of key villages from Al-Shabaab,” Shabelle Media Network, November 09, 2021,

[xiv] Radio Dalsan, “Somalia: Government Troops Carry Out Operations in Gedo Region,” November 03, 2021,; and Mohamed Abubakar, “Fighting against Al-Shabaab declared in Gedo region,” BadweynTimes, November 03, 2021,

[xv] Nor, “SNA seizes control of key villages from Al-Shabaab.”

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