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: Yemeni president discusses peace talks at UNGA; Houthis hold major military parade; Houthi military spokesperson threatens Gulf states; Saudi defense minister acknowledges meeting with Houthi negotiation delegation
Somalia: SFG requests pause in ATMIS drawdown; Somali forces repel al Shabaab efforts to re-establish presence in central Somalia; SNA and international partners kill al Shabaab regional military commander
Yemen Security Brief
Yemeni President Rashad al Alimi warned of “slavery under Houthi presence,” but called for a permanent peace without further “concessions” to the Houthi movement during a UN General Assembly address on September 21.[i] Alimi argued that the Houthis see the current peace process as a “trial” period, and that the Houthis would escalate if they could gain militarily.
The Houthis held a major military parade on September 21 in Sana’a commemorating the Houthi seizure of power in 2014. The Houthi defense minister threatened “foreign forces,” demanding that these forces “leave or…face the volcanoes of Yemeni anger.”[ii] The Houthis also flew an F-5E fighter jet during the military parade.[iii]
Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Sare’a reiterated that the Houthis will defend “the homeland” if “the aggression” does not fulfill the requirements of peace.[iv]
Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman acknowledged on September 19 the Houthi negotiating delegation’s visit to Riyadh last week. Bin Salman “reaffirmed” Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the peace process under UN supervision.[v]
Somalia Security Brief
The Somali Federal Government requested on September 19 a pause in the planned withdrawal of 3,000 African Union troops by the end of September.[vi] African Union forces were scheduled to transition five bases to Somali forces and close a further four during the drawdown phase.[vii] Somali officials believe the drawdown could create opportunities for al Shabaab while the Somali government is focused on clearing al Shabaab’s remaining havens in central Somalia.[viii]
The Somali National Army (SNA) and local militia cleared al Shabaab staging grounds and crossing points in Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia, from September 16–22.[ix] Somalia’s international partners supported the clearing operation with at least two airstrikes.[x] Al Shabaab had established several footholds in the Jowhar district in early September to resume operations on the east bank of the Shabelle River after Somali forces cleared the group from the area in 2022.[xi]
The SNA with international partner support launched an airstrike targeting an al Shabaab base in Wajid district, Bakool region, southwestern Somalia, on September 22.[xii] The strike killed al Shabaab’s military commander in the Bakool region and seven other militants.
[ii] Abdulrahman al Ansi, “Yemen Houthis flex military muscle in parade as Riyadh seeks ceasefire,” Reuters, September 21, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/yemen-houthis-flex-military-muscle-parade-riyadh-seeks-ceasefire-2023-09-21/.
[iii] Fabian Hinz, Twitter, September 21, 2023, https://x.com/fab_hinz/status/1704909295945711674?s=20.
[iv] Yahya Sare’a, Twitter, September 21, 2023, https://x.com/army21ye/status/1704803346530394541?s=20.
[v] Khalid bin Salman, Twitter, September 19, 2023, https://x.com/kbsalsaud/status/1704260754499576193?s=20.
[vi] The Somali Digest, “EXCLUSIVE: Somali Government’s eleventh-hour plea for troop extension raises questions about long-term stability,” September 21, 2023, https://thesomalidigest.com/exclusive-somali-governments-eleventh-hour-plea-for-troop-extension.
[vii] The East African, “Somalia asks UN Security Council to delay ATMIS troop drawdown,” September 22, 2023, https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/somali-asks-un-security-council-to-delay-atmis-troop-drawdown-4377164.
[viii] Mohamed Abdi Ware, @HShPrez2Ware, Twitter, September 21, 2023, https://x.com/HShPrez2Ware/status/1704951726510391788?s=20.
[ix] SONNA, @SONNALIVE, Twitter, September 22, 2023, https://x.com/SONNALIVE/status/1705114445138059717?s=20; Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, September 18, 2023, https://x.com/HarunMaruf/status/1703632032440479980?s=20; Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, September 16, 2023, https://x.com/HarunMaruf/status/1703144044241526931?s=20
[x] Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, September 16, 2023, https://x.com/HarunMaruf/status/1703144044241526931?s=20.
[xi] Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, September 7, 2023, https://x.com/HarunMaruf/status/1699817775374516508?s=20.
[xii] Somali Ministry of Defense, @MoDSomaliya, Twitter, September 22, 2023, https://x.com/MoDSomaliya/status/1705162611342344214?s=20.