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: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi military positions; AQAP targets al Houthis in Abyan; al Houthi leaders disguise travel with UN insignia

Somalia: Al Shabaab SVBIED kills eight in Mogadishu; NISA director wins lower house election; former lower house speaker barred from elections; opposition group announces election boycott

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi-led coalition conducted five airstrikes targeting al Houthi weapons depots, likely command and control (C2) nodes, and missile and drone sites between November 25 and 28. The airstrikes targeted al Daylami airbase, Dhahban neighborhood, and Jabal al Nahdain in Sana’a city.[i] Jabal al Nahdain is 5,000ft south of the Presidential Palace. Additional Saudi airstrikes targeted likely C2 nodes and missile sites in Sa’ada governorate on November 27 and 28.[ii]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Houthi motorbike in Muhalal, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on November 26.[iii]

Al Houthi leaders are reportedly moving in vehicles painted with UN insignia to avoid Saudi airstrikes.[iv] A UN source in Sana’a told Yemeni media that the al Houthis removed the UN license plates, but the cars have the UN insignia. The Saudi-led coalition spokesperson warned “terrorist leaders… are legitimate targets” at any time on November 26.[v]


Somalia Security Brief

Al Shabaab detonated a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) that killed eight people and wounded at least 17 others in the Hodan district of Mogadishu on November 25.[vi] Al Shabaab claimed it was targeting a UN convoy.[vii] Officials said there was no convoy in the area. The attack likely targeted a vehicle used by a private security company that protects UN and AMISOM personnel.[viii] The attack harmed no AMISOM or UN personnel but damaged surrounding buildings and injured at least seven children at a nearby school.

Acting National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) director Yasin Farey won a lower house election in Galmudug State on November 25.[ix] Clan elders from Farey’s Abgaal/Wa’eysle sub-clan rejected the election results and claimed allies of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) interfered in the election process. Somali think tank Sahan Global reported that social media footage showed masked people counting and distributing money at the election site.[x]

Election officials barred former Lower House Speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari from running in South West State lower house elections on November 25.[xi] The South West State Indirect Elections Team said Jawari did not fulfill the legal criteria. The South West State President Abdiaziz Laftagareen is an ally of President Farmajo.

The Council of Presidential Candidates, an opposition group of former Somali presidents and prime ministers, said on November 27 it would not recognize several regional states’ elections due widespread fraud.[xii] The group blamed President Farmajo for risking a potential civil war and said it will boycott the elections if federal officials do not rectify the situation. A former NISA director stated that opposition forces known as the “National Salvation Forces” are mobilizing to prevent President Farmajo from rigging further elections.[xiii] The National Salvation Forces are linked to the National Salvation Council, which is comprised of the Council of Presidential Candidates and political leaders from the Puntland, Jubbaland, and Somaliland federal member states.

[i] Al Jazeera, “Describing them as qualitative goals… the coalition announces the bombing of Houthi sites at Sana’a airport,” November 28, 2021,; and al Sharq al Awsat, “The coalition destroys Houthi weapons stores and warns against militarizing Sana’a airport,” November 27, 2021,; and al Arabiya, “Arab coalition releases details on latest air strike on Yemen Houthi military camps,” November 26, 2021,

[ii] Mareb Press, “The coalition announces the destruction of a missile platform for the Houthi militia in Sa’ada,” November 27, 2021,; and Khabar Agency, Twitter, November 28, 2021,

[iii] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 29, 2021,

[iv] Khabar Agency, “Exclusive – Houthi leaders travel in cars bearing United Nations logos,” November 26, 2021,

[v] Al Bawabah, “Arab Coalition: Air strikes on legitimate military targets in Sana’a,” November 26, 2021,

[vi] Abdirasak Tuuryare, “UN Chief condemns suicide blast in Somalia,” Mareeg, November 27, 2021,

[vii] Mohamed Adan, “Eight killed in Mogadishu bombing,” Somali Dispatch, November 25, 2021,

[viii] Goobjoog, “Update: Eight dead, 17 injured in Mogadishu bomb attack-police,” November 25, 2021,

[ix] Halbeeg, “NISA acting boss elected MP in Galmudug,” November 25, 2021,

[x] Sahan Global, “The Somali Wire: Issue 279,” November 29, 2021,

[xi] Hiraan Online, “Prof. Jowhari: We are not going to spread the word in Baidoa,” November 25, 2021,

[xii] Somalia Guardian, “Somalia’s Opposition Says It Will Not Recognize Recent Parliamentary Vote,” November 28, 2021,

[xiii] Warar, “National looting prevents national security – Tuyare,” Keydmedia, November 28, 2021,

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