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: Likely U.S. drone strike kills three AQAP members in al Bayda governorate; UN envoy meets with al Houthi representatives in Muscat; UN redeployment committee chairman meets with Hadi government representatives in al Hudaydah city; Arab League and Russia reaffirm support for Hadi government

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab executes alleged spies in Lower Jubba and Bay regions; SFG reshuffles SNA leadership; SNA and AMISOM forces repel al Shabaab attack in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab official surrenders to SFG

Yemen Security Brief

A likely U.S. drone strike killed three members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Sawma district in eastern al Bayda governorate on March 30. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces separately arrested an AQAP explosives expert, Abdul Qadir al Mut, in al Wuday district in central Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on March 31.[1]

Representatives of the al Houthi movement met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in Muscat, Oman on March 31 to discuss the phased withdrawal of al Houthi forces from ports in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen.  The delegations addressed obstacles to the withdrawals from the Salif and Ras Issa ports, according to al Houthi spokesperson Mohammad Abdul Salam. Griffiths also met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Muscat on March 30.[2]

The UN’s Redeployment Coordination Committee Chairman Michael Lollesgaard discussed the first phase of the al Hudaydah redeployments with representatives from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in al Hudaydah city on March 30. Lollesgaard attempted to meet with Hadi government officials on March 29 but al Houthi shelling prevented him from reaching the meeting. Lollesgaard is scheduled to meet with Hadi government representatives again on April 2.[3]

The Arab League reaffirmed its support for President Hadi’s government during the 30th Arab League summit in Tunis, Tunisia on March 31. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also reaffirmed Russia’s support for the Hadi government during a meeting with President Hadi in Tunis on the same day.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed to execute four spies in Kamsuma town in Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia on March 31. Al Shabaab claimed that the men worked for the British, Djiboutian, and Somali intelligence services. Al Shabaab spokesperson Ali Mohamed Rage “Ali Dhere” claimed that the group’s recent attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu were part of a campaign against Somali Federal Government (SFG) intelligence agents and other SFG officials. Al Shabaab also executed five people, including three Kenyans, in Yaaqbaraway town in Bay region in southern Somalia on March 27. Al Shabaab claimed that the Kenyans were spies for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the U.S. military.[5]

The SFG reshuffled some top leadership in the Somali National Army (SNA) on March 31 following a series of recent al Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu. The SFG appointed the former military attaché to the Somali embassy in Saudi Arabia as the new deputy chief of the SNA. The mayor of Mogadishu, Abdirahman Omar Osman “Yarisow,” separately announced new security operations in Mogadishu on March 31. Al Shabaab attacks killed 36 people and injured dozens of others in the last week of March.[6]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a joint SNA-AMISOM position in Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on March 31. SNA and AMISOM forces repelled the attack after heavy fighting.[7]

An al Shabaab official in Lower Shabelle region, Ibrahim Mohamed Bitow, surrendered to SFG forces in Somalia on March 30. The SFG did not state Bitow’s position in al Shabaab.[8]

View our Yemen, Oman, Tunisia, Russia, and Somalia story streams.

[1] “A US drone kills Abu Ammar al Hadrami and two others in al Bayda,” News Yemen, March 31, 2019,; and Mu Xuequan, “UAE-backed Yemeni security forces arrest al Qaeda explosives expert,” Xinhua, April 1, 2019,

[2] Mohammad Abdul Salam, Twitter, March 31, 2019,; and “Alawi receives UN special envoy to Yemen,” Times of Oman, March 31, 2019,

[3] Ali Rabih and Asma al Ghabri, “Crucial week ahead for Redeployment Committee in Yemen’s Hodeidah,” Asharq al Awsat, April 1, 2019,

[4] “President Hadi receives Russian presidential representative for Middle East,” September Net, March 31, 2019,

[5] “Somalia’s Al Shabaab claims executing 4 men for spying for Britain,” Mareeg, March 31, 2019,; Abdi Guled, “Al-Shabab says it executed 4 accused spies in Somalia,” Associated Press, March 31, 2019,; “Al-Shabaab executed nine people in four days,” Mustaqbal Radio, March 31, 2019,; and “Al Shabaab executes three Kenyans,” Hiraan, March 30, 2019,

[6] “Somalia declares major operation in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, March 31, 2019,; and “Somalia: Major reshuffle at army top brass following attacks,” Garowe, March 31, 2019,

[7] “Allied forces repel Shabaab attacks in Qoryoley town,” Goobjoog, March 31, 2019,

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 30, 2019,

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