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: Al Houthi drones target Saudi Arabia; Yemeni government forces continue counterattack in Ma’rib; Saudi airstrike kills possible Lebanese Hezbollah operative; pro- government forces kill al Houthi military official; STC-aligned units target AQAP in Abyan
Somalia: Politicians and military fear al Shabaab drone attacks; international actors pressure Somali government on elections; Southwest State forces arrest al Shabaab Amniyat members
Yemen Security Brief
The al Houthi movement launched four explosive-laden drones targeting Saudi Arabia between November 5 and 8.[i] Saudi air defenses intercepted three drones. The Yemeni Army intercepted a fourth in Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen.[ii]
Pro-government forces continued their counterattack against al Houthi forces in southern Ma’rib governorate. The Yemeni Army recaptured a military camp in southeastern al Jubah district, southern Ma’rib, on November 6.[iii] The Southern Transitional Council–aligned 4th Giants Brigade reportedly took part in a successful attack in al Jubah district.[iv] Giants Brigade forces do not normally operate in Ma’rib.
A likely Saudi airstrike may have killed a Lebanese Hezbollah operative in Ma’rib governorate on November 8.[v] The airstrike targeted an al Houthi missile launch site. Yemeni media claimed Iraqi “missile experts” are also in Yemen.
Pro-government forces killed the commander of the al Houthi 4th Military District in southern Ma’rib in early November.[vi] Al Houthi media did not announce the commander’s death.
STC-aligned security forces conducted a counterterrorism operation on November 6-7 targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen.[vii]
Somalia Security Brief
Somali politicians and security personnel raised alarms about al Shabaab acquiring drones.[viii] The increased suspicion follows new information about the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) capture of six drones at Aden Adde International Airport on November 3 and an unrelated assassination attempt on the Iraqi Prime Minister using drones on November 7.[ix] Somali media reported the seized drones could carry more than 30 kilograms and shared similarities to attack drones used by ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).[x] Somali MP Zakariye Mohamud Haji Abdi imported the drones and insisted they are intended for agricultural use in Puntland.[xi] Puntland state banned the use and importation of all drones due to security concerns on November 3.[xii]
International actors increased their efforts to speed up Somali elections. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) called on the Somali government to speed up elections and voiced concerns about continuous delays on behalf of the international community on November 5. Somaliland is the only federal member state that has begun lower house elections because of political disputes and security concerns. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the EU, Arab League, and 19 individual countries including Qatar, US, KSA, Kenya, Egypt, and Sudan supported the UNSOM statement.[xiii] UN Special Representative for Somalia James Swan then met with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to discuss the electoral process and international support on November 7.[xiv]
Southwest State security forces arrested members of an al Shabaab Amniyat cell in Baidoa, Bay region in southwestern Somalia on November 7. Southwest State Intelligence and Security Agency personnel arrested twelve Amniyat members following a tip-off about their safe houses.[xv]
[i] Mareb Press, “The second attack on Saudi territory in less than 24 hours,” November 6, 2021, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=179236&lang=arabic; and Mareb Press, “The Arab coalition reveals a military operation of the Houthis towards Abha airport and publishes a list of militia losses,” November 6, 2021, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=179241&lang=arabic.
[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “A counterattack turns the scales of the battle in al Jubah, and the clashes reach the road of the city of Ma’rib,” November 6, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/219630.
[iv] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “The expulsion of the Houthi militia in southern Ma’rib… and the identification of the forces leading the battles,” November 6, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/219621.
[vi] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “The death of the ‘right arm’ of ‘Abdul Malik al Houthi’, the first commander of the fierce bottles south of Ma’rib,” November 6, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/219648.
[vii] SMA News, “In pursuit of terrorist cells in some houses…a security deployment in the Abyan delta in Zinjibar city,” November 6, 2021, 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/258808/; and SMA News, “The Abyan Delta Security Belt implements a wide security campaign in the city of Jaar in Khanfar,” November 7, 2021, 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/259042/.
[viii] BedweynTimes, “Al-Shabaab plans to use drones for bombings and other fears,” November 8, 2021, https://badweyntimes.net/al-shabaab-oo-qorsheynaya-in-qaraxyada-ay-u-adeegsadaan-diyaarado-drones-ah-iyo-cabsi-kale-oo-soo-korortay/.
[ix] Asad Cabdullahi Mataan, “Photos: NISA seizes drone plans at Aden Adde International Airport,” Caasimada, November 3, 2021, https://www.caasimada.net/sawirro-nisa-oo-garoonka-aadan-cadde-ku-qabatay-diyaarado-drone-ah-iyo-xildhibaan-sheegtay-xog/; and Sahra Axmad Gacal, “Lawmaker Zakariye talks about the drones taken over by NISA,” Caasimada, November 4, 2021, https://www.caasimada.net/xildhibaan-zakariye-oo-ka-hadlay-diyaaradihii-drones-ka-ahaa-ee-nisa-ay-kala-wareegtay/.
[x] Mohamed Abukar, “Additional Information from drones captured by NISA forces at Aden Adde International Airport,” BadweynTimes, November 7, 2021, https://badweyntimes.net/xogo-dheeri-ah-oo-laga-helay-drones-ay-ciidamada-nisa-ku-qabteen-garoonka-aadan-cadde/; and Keydmedia, “Fear of drones seized in the capital,” November 7, 2021, https://www.keydmedia.net/news/cabsi-ka-dhalatay-drones-kii-lagu-qabtay-muqdisho.
[xi] Asad Cabdullahi Mataan, “Photos: NISA seizes drone plans at Aden Adde International Airport,” Caasimada, November 3, 2021, https://www.caasimada.net/sawirro-nisa-oo-garoonka-aadan-cadde-ku-qabatay-diyaarado-drone-ah-iyo-xildhibaan-sheegtay-xog/; and Sahra Axmad Gacal, “Lawmaker Zakariye talks about the drones taken over by NISA,” Caasimada, November 4, 2021, https://www.caasimada.net/xildhibaan-zakariye-oo-ka-hadlay-diyaaradihii-drones-ka-ahaa-ee-nisa-ay-kala-wareegtay/.
[xii] Hiraan Online, “Puntland bans the use of drones ahead of elections,” November 3, 2021, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Nov/184451/puntland_bans_the_use_of_drones_ahead_of_elections.aspx.
[xiii] UNSOM, “International Partners Urge Faster Progress on Elections,” November 5, 2021, https://unsom.unmissions.org/international-partners-urge-faster-progress-elections-0.
[xiv] Radio Dalsan, Prime Minister Roble and James Swan discuss parliamentary elections,” November 7, 2021, https://www.radiodalsan.com/wararka-idaacadda/rw-rooble-iyo-james-swan-oo-ka-wada-hadlay-doorashada-golaha-shacabka/.
[xv] Puntland Post, Al-Shabaab security network arrested in Baidoa,” November 7, 2021, https://puntlandpost.net/2021/11/07/shabakad-ka-tirsan-amniyaadka-al-shabaab-oo-baydhaba-lagu-qabtay/; and Halbeeg News, SNA nabs 12 al-Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia,” November 8, 2021, https://en.halbeeg.com/2021/11/08/sna-nabs-12-al-shabaab-fighters-in-southern-somalia/.