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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: AQAP urges Yemenis to fight al Houthis; Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab leader urges followers to target foreign forces in Somalia; al Shabaab executes alleged spies in Middle Jubba region; al Shabaab attacks Ethiopian military base in Bakool region; al Shabaab attacks Kenyan military base in Lower Jubba region; UN Security Council extends AMISOM mandate

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement about the ongoing conflict between the al Houthi movement and forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on March 1. AQAP labeled the al Houthi movement as America’s “hired gun” to fight Sunni Muslims and foment divisions in Yemen. AQAP released a local bulletin on the COVID-19 pandemic in late February.[i]

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia on March 3. The Saudi-led coalition last claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone targeting the Abha International Airport in the kingdom’s Jizan region on March 2. A projectile injured five civilians in Jizan city the same day.[ii]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed in Ma’rib governorate’s Sirwah district on March 3. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed along Ma’rib governorate’s al Kassara front on March 2.[iii] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab released a speech by its leader, Ahmad Umar, calling on followers to participate in jihad and rebel against foreign forces in Somalia on March 1. Al Shabaab accused the Somali Federal Government of yielding to foreign influence in a documentary series it released in mid-February.[iv]

Al Shabaab executed five alleged spies in Jilib district in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region on March 1. Al Shabaab accused the men of reporting militant locations to the US Central Intelligence Agency.[v]

Al Shabaab attacked an Ethiopian military base in Hudur district in central Somalia’s Bakool region on March 2. Al Shabaab attacked an Ethiopian military base in Hudur in early February.[vi]

Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan military base in Qoqani town in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on March 2. Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked Kenyan military bases in Kuday and Abdale Birole in Lower Jubba region on March 1.[vii]  

The UN Security Council extended the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate on February 25. The mandate, which was set to expire in late February, was extended to March 14.[viii]


[i] “Amid Battle for Marib, AQAP Brands Houthis America's ‘Hired Gun’ Against Sunnis and Urges All Out Fight,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 1, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 22, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 22, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-22-2021.

[ii] “Coalition defenses destroy a Houthi march towards Saudi Arabia,” Hadramawt, March 3, 2021, http://www.7adramout.net/4MAY/7587855/%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9.html; “The Coalition announces the destruction of a Houthi march, which the Houthis claim to target Abha airport,” Aden Lang, March 2, 2021, http://adnlng.info/news/165419/; and “Saudi Arabia… a Houthi projectile fell in Jizan, wounding 5 civilians,” Al Jazeera, March 2, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2021/3/2/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b3%d8%b9%d9%88%d8%af%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%b3%d9%82%d9%88%d8%b7-%d9%85%d9%82%d8%b0%d9%88%d9%81-%d8%b9%d8%b3%d9%83%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d9%81%d9%8a-%d8%ac%d8%a7%d8%b2%d8%a7%d9%86.

[iii] “Al Houthi drone was shot down in the Marib governorate,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, March 3, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/196369; “The National Army drains Al-Houthi in the deserts of Marib, and Al-Sabeen Square is littered with militia corpses,” Mareb Press, March 2, 2021, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=172132; and Amelia Frederking and Lauren Detter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 1, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 1, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-1-2021

[iv] “Al-Kataib Foundation Releases New Speech of Sheikh Abu Ubaydah,” Calamada, March 1, 2021, http://calamada.com/daawo-muassasada-al-kataaib-oo-baahisay-kalimadda-cusub-ee-sheekh-abuu-cubeydah-2/; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 12, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 12, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-12-2021.

[v] “Al Shabaab kills 5 in Jilib town,” Somalimemo, March 3, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14340/Al-Shabaab-oo-5-ruux-ku-dilay-fagaare-kuyaal-magaalada-Jilib.

[vi] “Jamal Farah Adam killed in Galkayo,” Calamada, March 2, 2021, http://calamada.com/99075-2/; and “Ethiopian military bases in Gedo and Bakool come under attack,” Somalimemo, February 8, 2021, https://somalimemo.net/articles/14327/Saldhigyada-ciidamada-Itoobiya-ee-Gedo-iyo-Bakool-oo-weeraro-lakulmay.

[vii] “Jamal Farah Adam killed in Galkayo,” Calamada, March 2, 2021, http://calamada.com/99075-2/; and  Lauren Detter, Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 1, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 1, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-1-2021.

[viii] “Security Council Reauthorizes Deployment of African Union Mission in Somalia, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2563 (2021),” UN Security Council, February 25, 2021, https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sc14451.doc.htm.

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition intercepts al Houthi ballistic missile and drones targeting Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Kenyan military bases in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab targets security officials in Mogadishu; al Shabaab kills Kenyan officer in Mandera County; UN Security Council announces sanctions on al Shabaab militants

Yemen Security Brief:

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept an al Houthi ballistic missile and 15 drones targeting the Saudi capital and Abha and Khamis Mushait cities in southern Saudi Arabia on February 27. The Saudi-led coalition previously claimed to intercept an al Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait city on February 26.[i]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed on the Sirwah, al Kassara, and al Masjah fronts of central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on March 1. Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government claimed to kill 350 al Houthi militants during the clashes. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces previously clashed in Ma’rib governorate’s Sirwah district on February 27.[ii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked Kenyan military bases in Kuday and Abdale Birole in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on March 1. Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan military base in Lower Jubba region’s Taabta on February 27.[iii]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device targeting Somali National Army forces in Hodan district of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on February 28. Al Shabaab also killed three security officers at Mogadishu’s Bakara market the same day.[iv]

Al Shabaab killed a Kenyan army officer in Sheikh Barrow village in Mandera County in northeastern Kenya on February 27. Al Shabaab ambushed a convoy of Kenyan police officers in Mandera County on February 25.[v]

The UN Security Council sanctioned al Shabaab senior leaders Abukar Ali Aden, Maalim Ayman, and Mahad Karate on February 26. The US and Somali Federal Governments co-nominated the militants to be added to the UN’s sanction list on February 22.[vi]


[i] “Yemen Rebels Claim Saudi Strikes, Threaten New Attack,” Voice of America, February 28, 2021, https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/yemen-rebels-claim-saudi-strikes-threaten-new-attack; and Lauren Detter, Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 26, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 26, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-26-2021.

[ii] “Fronts of the outskirts in Marib… the continued depletion of the Houthi militia,” 26 Sep News, February 28, 2021, http://www.26sepnews.net/2021/02/28/%d8%ac%d8%a8%d9%87%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a3%d8%b7%d8%b1%d8%a7%d9%81-%d9%85%d8%a3%d8%b1%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d8%b3%d8%aa%d9%86%d8%b2%d8%a7%d9%81-%d9%85%d8%b3%d8%aa%d9%85%d8%b1-%d9%84%d9%84%d9%85%d9%84%d9%8a%d8%b4/; and “Yemeni strategic progress puts the aggression mercenaries’ stronghold in Marib,” Al Alam, February 27, 2021, https://www.alalamtv.net/news/5461978.

[iii] “Kenyan military bases in Kudhaa and Abdalla Birole attacked,” Somalimemo, March 1, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8204/Saldhigyada-ciidamada-Kenya-ee-Kudhaa-iyo-Cabdalla-Biroole-oo-la-weeraray; and “Al Shabaab attacks bases in southern Somalia,” Somalimemo, February 27, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8193/Al-Shabaab-oo-weeraray-saldhigyo-kuyaal-Koonfurta-Soomaaliya.

[iv] “DF security officials killed in Mogadishu,” Somalimemo, February 28, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8203/Saraakiil-katirsan-Nabad-Sugidda-DF-oo-Muqdisho-lagu-dilay; and “Al Shabaab targets Deputy Commander of DF,” Somalimemo, February 28, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8199/Al-Shabaab-oo-qarax-ku-beegsaday-Taliye-ku-xigeenka-ciidanka-Melleteriga-DF.  

[v] “Kenyan security official killed in Sheikh Barrow area,” Somalimemo, February 27, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8192/Sarkaal-katirsanaa-ciidanka-ammaanka-Kenya-oo-lagu-dilay-deegaanka-Sheekh-Barroow; and Lauren Detter, Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 26, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 26, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-26-2021.

[vi] “Security Council Sanctions Committee concerning Somalia Adds Three Entries to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, February 26, 2021, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/751/press-releases; and Lauren Detter, Amelia Frederking, ““Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 24, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 24, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-24-2021.

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab ambushes Kenyan police in Mandera County; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM base in Hiraan region; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM base in Middle Shabelle region; Somali oppositionists agree to postpone protests over delayed federal presidential elections

Yemen Security Brief:

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept two al Houthi explosive-laden drones targeting Khamis Mushait city in southern Saudi Arabia’s Asir region on February 26. The coalition forces previously claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone launched toward Khamis Mushait city on February 18.[i]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed in Sirwah district and Hailan front in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on February 26. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces previously clashed in Sirwah district on February 25.[ii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab ambushed a convoy of Kenyan police officers in northeastern Kenya’s Mandera County on February 25. Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device in Mandera County in late January. [iii]

Al Shabaab attacked a Djiboutian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Jalalaqsi district in southern Somalia’s Hiraan region on February 25. Al Shabaab attacked an AMISOM base in Halgan town on February 21.[iv]

Al Shabaab attacked a Burundian AMISOM base near Balad district in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on February 25. Al Shabaab ambushed Burundian troops in Middle Shabelle region’s Jowhar in mid-February.[v]  

Somali Opposition leaders of the Council of Presidential Candidates agreed to postpone protests over the delayed federal presidential elections until early March fter meeting with Somalia’s Prime Minister on February 25. Protestors and Somali National Army forces clashed in the Somali capital over delayed elections on February 19.[vi]


[i] “The Saudi-Emirati coalition destroyed two Houthi drones and says they are targeting civilians,” Al Jazeera, February 26, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2021/2/26/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%aa%d8%ad%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%81-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b3%d8%b9%d9%88%d8%af%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a5%d9%85%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%a7%d8%aa%d9%8a-%d9%8a%d8%af%d9%85%d8%b1-%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%a6%d8%b1%d8%a9; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 19, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 19, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-19-2021.

[ii] “The Houthis target Marib, Yemen, and the Security Council condemns the escalation,” El Watan, February 26, 2021, https://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/5337410; “Violent battles and the army claimed dozens of militia members this morning in Marib,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, February 26, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/195850; “Large Houthi groups surrender to a National Army point in Sirwah after a campaign of kidnappings of deserters from the fronts in Marib,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, February 25, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/195779; and “Coalition fighters launch a series of raids on Marib Governorate,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, February 25, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/195768.   

[iii]   “Kenyan police officers attacked in Mandera,” Somalimemo, February 25, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8191/Ciidamo-katirsan-Booliska-Kenya-oo-lagu-weeraray-Mandheera; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 29, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 29, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-29-2021; and “Shabaab Claims Wounding District Police Chief and Deputy in Bomb Blast in Capital, Attacking Multiple AMISOM Bases in Single Day,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 25, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[iv]     “Kenyan police officers attacked in Mandera,” Somalimemo, February 25, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8191/Ciidamo-katirsan-Booliska-Kenya-oo-lagu-weeraray-Mandheera; and “Shabaab Claims Wounding District Police Chief and Deputy in Bomb Blast in Capital, Attacking Multiple AMISOM Bases in Single Day,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 25, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 22, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 22, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-22-2021.

[v] “Kenyan police officers attacked in Mandera,” Somalimemo, February 25, 2021, http://somalimemo24.com/articles/8191/Ciidamo-katirsan-Booliska-Kenya-oo-lagu-weeraray-Mandheera; and “Shabaab Claims Wounding District Police Chief and Deputy in Bomb Blast in Capital, Attacking Multiple AMISOM Bases in Single Day,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 25, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 12, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 12, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-12-2021.

[vi] “Somalia’s politicians strike a last-minute deal, but fears of conflict remain high,” Washington Post, February 26, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/somalia-protest-last-minute-deal/2021/02/26/dd9d5bc0-777c-11eb-9489-8f7dacd51e75_story.html; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 19, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 19, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-19-2021.

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