Gulf of Aden Security Review – November 17, 2021

Yemen: Al Houthi drone targets Saudi Arabia; al Houthi official accuses Israel of attacking Yemen; STC leader meets Saudi officials in Riyadh; Saudi forces in Yemen continue consolidation; US envoy travels to the Gulf Somalia: Garissa University attacker escapes Nairobi prison; UN Security council extends Somalia arms embargo; Somali opposition politicians plan to form a transitional governing council Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement fired one explosive-laden drone targeting Khamis Mushait in southern Saudi Arabia on November 17.[i] Saudi air defenses intercepted the drone. The deputy director of the Moral Guidance Department in the al Houthi armed forces claimed on November 16 that Israel conducts “attacks” on “Yemeni airspace and waters.”[ii] The official did not provide any detail. The president of the Yemeni Southern Transitional Council (STC) met with the Saudi ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh on November 16.

They discussed the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.[iii] The STC’s president said he was “out of patience” with the implementation of the agreement on November 9.[iv] Saudi forces withdrew from a base in Rumah district, Hadramawt governorate, to Saudi Arabia[v]. This is the fourth Saudi withdrawal or consolidation of forces in Yemen since October 26.[vi]

US Special Envoy to Yemen Timothy Lenderking traveled to Manama, Bahrain and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 16. The meeting topics include the pursuit of ceasefire in Yemen and the al Houthi detention of local employees of the US Embassy in Sana’a.[vii] Somalia Security Brief

Mohamed Ali Abikar and two other al Shabaab militants escaped from Kamiti Maximum-security Prison in Nairobi, Kenya.[viii] Abikar was serving a 41-year sentence for his role as a gunman in the 2015 attack on Garissa University that killed 148 people. The Kenyan government said its forces are on high alert to apprehend the escapees and have offered a reward to anyone that provides helpful information. Kenyan officials have not said how the prisoners escaped or if they received assistance.

The UN Security Council voted to extend the arms embargo on Somalia for another year.[ix]  Resolution 2607/2021 extends sanction regime 751 on Somalia, which has been in place for nearly 30 years. The embargo does not apply to weapons, military equipment, or other assistance for developing Somali security forces. The Somali representative to the UN said the Security Council should have modified the embargo to target al Shabaab.

Opponents of Somalia’s president may attempt to create a transitional council to govern the country if a new government is not formed by the end of 2021.[x] The Council of Presidential Candidates opposes incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) and consists of former presidents, prime ministers, and other politicians.[xi] Limited reporting indicates that opposition politicians may also send troops, dubbed the National Salvation Forces, into Mogadishu to support a transitional council.[xii] These forces clashed with Somali National Army forces loyal to President Farmajo in Mogadishu in April 2021 following Farmajo’s attempt to extend his term in office.


[i] Al Arabiya, “Saudi Arabia intercepts explosive-laden drone launched by Houthis: Coalition,” November 17, 2021, https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/11/17/Saudi-Arabia-intercepts-explosive-laden-drone-launched-by-Houthis-Coalition. [ii] Saba News Houthi, “Brigadier General Amer: There are Israeli attacks on Yemen, the details of which have not yet been revealed,” November 16, 2021, https://www.saba.ye/ar/news3164229.htm. [iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “The Transitional Council reveals the new agreement with Saudi Arabia,” November 16, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/220261.

[iv] Southern Transitional Council, “An important statement issued by the extraordinary meeting of the Presidency of the Southern Transitional Council,” November 10, 2021, https://stcaden.com/news/16073. [v] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Huge military forces arrive in Ma’rib in conjunction with the withdrawal of Saudi forces from Hadramawt,” November 16, 2021 https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/220241. [vi] South24, “South Yemen: Withdrawal of Saudi forces from Shabwah,” October 26, 2021, https://www.south24.net/news/newse.php?nid=2172; and Aziz el Yaakoubi and Reyam Mukhshaf, “Saudi-led coalition says troops redeploying in Yemen, not withdrawing,” Reuters, November 10, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-led-coalition-says-troops-redeploying-yemen-not-withdrawing-2021-11-10/; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, November 1, 2021, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1455167945383071747?s=20.

[vii] Office of the Spokesperson, “US Special Envoy for Yemen Lenderking’s Travel to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain,” US Department of State, November 16, 2021, https://www.state.gov/u-s-special-envoy-for-yemen-lenderkings-travel-to-saudi-arabia-and-bahrain/. [viii] Humphrey Malalo and Ayenat Mersie, “Kenyan police say three ‘dangerous’ inmates flee maximum security prison,” Reuters, November 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/three-terrorism-suspects-kenya-escape-prison-police-2021-11-15/. [ix] United Nations Security Council, “Security Council, Renewing Arms Embargo on Somalia, Authorization to Inspect Vessels, Adopts Resolution 2607 (2021) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions,” November 15, 2021, https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14703.doc.htm.

[x] Asad Cabdullahi Mataan, “Source: Candidates’ Union forms national governing body + Reason,” Caasimada, November 16, 2021, https://www.caasimada.net/xog-midowga-murashaxiinta-oo-dhisaya-gole-qaran-oo-dalka-maamula-sababta/. [xi] Abdulkadir Khalif, “Somalia’s opposition candidates demand dissolution of electoral teams,” The East African, November 27, 2020, https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/somalia-opposition-candidates-dissolution-electoral-teams-3211626. [xii] Mataan, “Source: Candidates’ Union forms national governing body + Reason.”

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