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: National Resistance Forces withdraw near al Hudaydah city; AQAP attacks al Houthis in al Bayda; AQAP condemns Aden car bomb; AQAP leader releases interview

Somalia: SFG sets new deadlines for lower house elections; African Union council leaves Somalia without counterterrorism agreement; al Shabaab claims SVBIED attack targeted Americans in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Units from the National Resistance Forces (NRF), a Yemeni government–aligned force led by Tariq Saleh, withdrew from positions south and east of al Hudaydah city.[i] Tariq Saleh is the nephew of the late former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The 5th and 6th Giants Brigades and 1st Infantry Brigade moved from positions in al Hudaydah city to al Khawkhah in al Hudaydah governorate November 11. The 1st Giants Brigades moved from al Hudaydah to Bir Ahmed in Aden governorate November 11. Al Houthi forces occupied the positions vacated by the NRF near al Durayhimi, Thabet, and al Saleh, east and south of al Hudaydah city.[ii] A Yemeni minister of state said the withdrawals were routine “repositioning” of forces.[iii]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed two attacks targeting al Houthi fighters on November 4 and November 7.[iv] AQAP sniped at an al Houthi position near Mayfa’ in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on November 4. AQAP detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Houthi truck in Tayyab in al Baydah governorate on November 7.

AQAP condemned the October 30 car bomb targeting Aden International Airport.[v] The attack killed nine civilians and wounded twelve more.[vi] No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

AQAP emir Khalid al Batarfi released an interview discussing the Taliban, Palestine, and the war in Yemen.[vii] Batarfi said the Taliban show that “jihad and faith” creates real change. Batarfi also condemned political settlements to the war in Yemen because they “empower Shi’a minorities.”

Somalia Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) said Federal Member States must begin lower house elections by November 16 and finish them by December 24. The Federal Electoral Implementation Team announced the new deadlines on November 11.[viii] Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble chaired a virtual meeting of the National Consultative Council hours after the announcement. The Banadir governor and presidents of Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest, Jubbaland, and Hirshabelle states attended the conference.[ix] The group agreed that all state governments should immediately start lower house elections and aim to finish them as soon as possible.[x]

The African Union-Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) visit to Somalia ended without an agreement on the future makeup of counterterrorism forces. The AU-PSC delegation met with Somali leaders and politicians to negotiate the status of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. The SFG committed to continue negotiations with the African Union but continued to its demands for the Somali Transition Plan.[xi] The head of the AU-PSC delegation, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Omar Gad, stated that both sides will continue to work together to resolve the status of AMISOM.[xii] AMISOM’s mandate expires on December 31, 2021.

Al Shabaab claimed that a suicide vehicle-borne IED attack on an AMISOM convoy in the Hodan district of Mogadishu had targeted American personnel.[xiii] American casualties, or the presence of Americans in the convoy, are unconfirmed. Al Shabaab said a security detachment scouted American officers from the Pacific Engineering Company in the days before the attack.[xiv] The explosion killed at least three people, including two civilians.[xv] This is the first al Shabaab attack allegedly targeting Americans since the US withdrawal of nearly all troops from Somalia in January 2021.

[i] Mareb Press, “Details of the withdrawal of the giants brigades stationed in al Hudaydah governorate from their positions,” November 11, 2021,; and al Mashhad al Yemeni, “After the handover of Hudaydah to the Houthis… a Western plan was revealed to announce 4 countries in Yemen,” November 11, 2021,

[ii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “al Houthi militia confirms control of the vicinity of Hudaydah airport and a number of sensitive areas in the south of the governorate,” November 12, 2021,

[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “The situation will change completely and the second part will start soon. The first comment from the legitimate government regarding the withdrawal of Tariq Saleh forces from Hudaydah,” November 12, 2021,

[iv] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP claims sniping Houthi fighter, bombing truck in Bayda’,” November 11, 2021, available by subscription at

[v] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP condemns bombing outside Aden Airport, disavows attacks on general public,” November 10, 2021, available by subscription at

[vi] BBC News, “Yemen: Nine killed in Aden airport car bomb,” October 31, 2021,

[vii] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP Leader Batarfi discusses Taliban, Palestinian issues, Iran, and Houthis in 1st installment in visual interview,” November 11, 2021, available by subscription at

[viii] FTL Somalia, “Somalia Sets December 24 as Deadline for Lower House Elections,” November 11, 2021,

[ix] Asad Cabdullahi Mataan, “Rooble and regional leaders reach a decision on the election,” November 12, 2021.

[x] Mataan, “Rooble and regional leaders reach a decision on the election.”

[xi] Liam Karr and Brian Carter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – November 10, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 10, 2021,

[xii] Istar Caabdi, Yuusuf, “African Union delegation briefs on meetings in Mogadishu,” Caasimada, November 11, 2021,

[xiii] SITE Intelligence Group “Shabaab Claims Credit for Suicide Bombing on AMISOM Convoy in Mogadishu, Identifies Target as American Officers,” November 11, 2021, available by subscription at

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Radio Dalsan, “Somali Car Bomb Targets African Union Convoy in Mogadishu,” November 11, 2021,

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