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: Taiz governor announces new airport opening; tribesmen in Sana’a demand release of sheikhs imprisoned by Houthis; AQAP targets STC-affiliated forces with IED
Somalia: SNA repels small al Shabaab counterattack on recently cleared area in north-central Somalia; SFG augments its counterterrorism strategy as the fight against al Shabaab escalates
Yemen Security Brief:
Taiz Governor Nabil Shamsan announced the opening of a likely Emirati-built airstrip in Mocha, Taiz governorate, southwestern Yemen, as a new international airport in Yemen.[i] Shamsan said the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) approved the inauguration of the airport, which was “sponsored” by National Resistance Front leader Tariq Saleh. Shamsan suggested the airport would alleviate the “siege” of Taiz.[ii] Houthi media claimed the Emirati military would use the airport, citing a May 2022 report from an Arabic-language open-source intelligence platform.[iii]
Bani Harith tribesmen held an armed gathering in northern Sana’a governorate demanding the release of eight Bani Harith sheikhs on September 21.[iv] Key Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al Houthi reportedly imprisoned the eight sheikhs without charges. The tribesmen demanded the Houthi movement imprison Mohammed Ali al Houthi in response on September 22.[v] The Houthis released seven of the sheikhs on September 23.[vi]
Likely al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting military forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) near Lawder city, Lawder district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on September 23.[vii] Local media did not specify casualties.
Somalia Security Brief:
Al Shabaab attacked Somali National Army (SNA) forces near Sina Dhaqo, Dhusmareb district, Galgudud region, north-central Somalia, on September 22.[viii] The SNA released pictures of dead militants and claimed to kill 15 al Shabaab fighters while repulsing the attack.[ix] Turkish-trained Gorgor commandos cleared Sina Dhaqo and surrounding areas on September 20.[x]
The Somali Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers announced several efforts to improve the country’s national counterterrorism strategy on September 22.[xi] The plans include strengthening the role of the National Security Council, forming a committee to better coordinate counterterrorism activities, creating a national agency for countering violent extremism, implementing a national strategy to counter money laundering and terrorist financial networks, and encouraging further public uprisings against terrorists.
[i] Nabil Shamsan, Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://twitter.com/Nashamsan/status/1572572517117886465?s=20&t=9AhGK9nBTSfTHAHg9dYXhw; and Vleckie, Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://twitter.com/VleckieHond/status/1572615086073868288?s=20&t=vKwpQ_I2xDLZmxVt6VaELQ.
[ii] Nabil Shamsan, Twitter, September 21, 2022, https://twitter.com/Nashamsan/status/1572615505323638789?s=20&t=9AhGK9nBTSfTHAHg9dYXhw.
[iii] Al Masirah, “Pro-aggression government recognizes establishment of Emirati Military Airport near Bab al Mandeb Straight,” September 22, 2022, https://english.almasirah.net.ye/post/28561/; and Eekad, Youtube, May 21, 2022, “The Emirates is expanding in Yemen… a new airport in Mokha,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npFZ9_gzCls.
[iv] Mareb Press, “The tribes of Bani al Harith in Sana’a mobilize their men and call for armed disapproval in response to the Houthi kidnapping of 8 sheikhs,” September 22, 2022, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=187354.
[v] Salman al Maqrami, Twitter, September 22, 2022, https://twitter.com/salmanalmaqrami/status/1573079261652684805?s=20&t=9AhGK9nBTSfTHAHg9dYXhw.
[vi] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “After their release and an apology to them, he witnessed the sheikhs of ‘Bani al Harith’ quarrel and demand the imprisonment of ‘al Houthi’ in the central prison,” September 23, 2022, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/240267.
[viii] SONNA, “SNA killed 15 terrorists who tried to re-take expelled area in Galmudug region,” September 23, 2022, https://sonna.so/en/2022/09/23/sna-killed-15-terrorists-who-tried-to-re-take-expelled-area-in-galmudug-region/.
[ix] SNTV News, @SNTVNews1, Twitter, September 23, 2022, https://twitter.com/sntvnews1/status/1573312652411117569.
[x] Brian Carter and Liam Karr, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 21, 2022,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 21, 2022, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-21-2022.
[xi] Radio Dalsan, “PM Hamze Barre chairs cabinet meeting, offers commitment to anti Shabaab operations,” September 22, 2022, https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/77307/2022/09/pm-hamze-barre-chairs-cabinet-meeting-offers-commitment-to-anti-shabab-operations/; Harun Maruf, @HarunMaruf, Twitter, September 22, 2022, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1572922973245538304?s=20&t=7WLh32Vx9l9BrWTE6PU98A.