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 and Saudis agree to prisoner exchange from March 2022; Houthi negotiator threatens US and Europe with oil and gas attacks; Houthis lower fuel prices; AQAP fighters target STC troops in Abyan governorate
Somalia: SNA forces clear multiple villages in south-central Somalia; al Shabaab assassinates a member of parliament in Mogadishu; the Somali government releases a prominent arrested journalist
Yemen Security Brief:
The Houthi Movement and Saudi Arabia exchanged 2,223 total prisoners on October 15.[i] The exchange released 1,400 Houthi prisoners in return for 823 Saudi-led Coalition prisoners, including former Defense Minister Mahmoud al Subayhi, 16 Saudis, and three Sudanese. The Houthis and Saudis began discussing the exchange in March 2022, though the two parties did not officially sign the agreement until October 15.[ii]
Houthi negotiating delegation member Abdul Malik al Ajri said the Houthis “do not reject negotiations,” but qualified that “there are no guarantees for the continuation of the truce” on October 15.[iii] Ajri added on October 13 that the United States, United Kingdom, and France “stand behind crises” in the Middle East and that “ignoring” Houthi demands and threats will have “dire consequences and a harsh winter.”[iv] The Houthis have previously threatened oil and gas production in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and southern Yemen in response to rumors that European companies may access Yemeni gas fields.[v]
The spokesperson from the Houthi-controlled Yemeni Petroleum Company said that the company would reduce the price of gasoline and diesel fuel by 1,000 Yemeni Riyals on October 16.[vi] The spokesperson said the reduction is due to the arrival of additional ships in Hudaydah port.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters detonated two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting the Southern Transitional Council (STC)-aligned 1st Support and Reinforcement Brigade near Wadi Khayala, Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on October 14.[vii] The IEDs killed three soldiers.
Somalia Security Brief:
Somali National Army (SNA) forces cleared al Shabaab from multiple villages near Hawadley, Bal’ad district, Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, on October 15.[viii] The SNA claimed that their operation killed 30 al Shabaab militants, including senior group leaders.[ix]
Al Shabaab assassinated a Somali Federal Government (SFG) member of parliament in Warta Nabda district, Mogadishu, on October 15.[x]
The SFG released the secretary general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate on bail on October 16.[xi] The SFG arrested the secretary general on October 11 after he criticized the government’s October 8 crackdown on al Shabaab-related reporting. Multiple international organizations and governments protested the Secretary General’s arrest.[xii]
[i] Mareb Press, “It was signed today..Houthi militias announce reaching an agreement with Saudi Arabia,” October 15, 2022, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=187894.
[ii] Aziz El Yaakoubi, Yasmin Hussein, and Mohammed Ghobari, “Yemen warring parties discuss possible prisoner swap including 16 Saudis,” Reuters, March 28, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/houthi-official-says-new-prisoner-swap-deal-includes-16-saudis-brother-yemen-2022-03-27/.
[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Urgent: al Houthi militia announces a surprising position on the armistice,” October 15, 2022, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/241896.
[iv] Abdul Malik al Ajri, Twitter, October 13, 2022, https://twitter.com/alejri77/status/1580629272217423872.
[v] Brian Carter, David Hessen, and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 3, 2022,” The Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 3, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-3-2022; and Amwaj Media, “Will Germany-UAE energy deal involve gas from Yemen,” October 10, 2022, https://amwaj.media/media-monitor/will-germany-uae-energy-deal-involve-gas-from-yemen.
[vi] Mareb Press, “The Houthis announce a limited reduction in the price of oil derivatives,” October 16, 2022, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=187911.
[vii] Mahra Post, “Three STC members were killed when two explosive devices exploded in Abyan,” October 15, 2022, https://almahrahpost.com/news/33832.
[viii] Hiraan Online, “Government forces retake several villages in Middle Shabelle region,” October 16, 2022, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2022/Oct/188276/government_forces_recapture_several_villages_in_middle_shabelle_region.aspx.
[ix] SONNA, “SNA seize key area, killed scores of terrorists including ringleaders,” October 15, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/10/15/sna-seize-key-area-killed-scores-of-terrorists-including-ringleaders/.
[x] Istar Cabdi Yusuf, “An armed group recently killed in Mogadishu,” Caasimada, October 15, 2022, https://www.caasimada.net/koox-hubeysan-oo-goordhow-dil-ka-geysatay-magaalada-muqdisho/.
[xi] Said Yusuf Warsame, @SaidYWarsame, Twitter, October 16, 2022, https://twitter.com/SaidYWarsame/status/1581644627001556992.
[xii] Brian Carter and David Hessen, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 14, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, October 14, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-october-14-2022.