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: U.S. citizen held captive in Yemen released; UN monitoring team leader requests delay of first phase of the al Hudaydah withdrawal; UN hosts aid drive for Yemen; AQAP claims to kill Islamic State militant in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM airstrike kills 35 al Shabaab militants near Beledweyne; Sudanese President Bashir bans unauthorized rallies

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. President Donald Trump announced that U.S. citizen Danny Burch was released and reunited with his family on February 25.  Burch, an oil worker in Yemen, CORRECTIONAn earlier version of the Security Review reported that al Houthi forces detained Burch. It has not been confirmed which group abducted him. was abducted in Sana'a city in September 2017. President Trump thanked the UAE for its role in facilitating Burch’s release. Reuters previously reported that Burch flew to Oman with a senior al Houthi delegation on January 25, 2018. It is unclear where Burch has been since then or where he was released.[1]

UN monitoring team leader Michael Lollesgaard requested a delay in implementing the al Houthi movement’s withdrawal from Salif and Ras Issa ports north of al Hudaydah city on February 26. The withdrawals were originally planned for February 24 as the first phase of the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement to demilitarize al Hudaydah city. Lollesgaard did not give an explanation for the delay. A military spokesman for a group aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claimed that the al Houthi movement had rejected the withdrawal agreement.[2]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hosted a conference to raise 4.2 billion U.S. dollars for Yemen in Geneva, Switzerland on February 26. This is the largest sum the UN has solicited since the civil war began in 2015. Guterres highlighted progress in the UN-led peace process by citing the UN observers’ successful visit to the Red Sea Mills in al Hudaydah city on February 26. The visit marked the first time UN observers were able to visit the site in six months.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to kill an Islamic State in Yemen militant in the Qayfa area of northwestern al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on February 24.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants near Beledweyne, the capital of Hiraan region in central Somalia, on February 24. AFRICOM stated that the strike disrupted an al Shabaab attempt to mass its forces in the area. AFRICOM struck the militants while they were traveling. The strike killed 35 militants and injured no civilians.[5] 

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir banned unauthorized rallies and gave security forces expansive authorities to conduct raids and search individuals on February 25 as part of a new state of emergency. President Bashir also banned any media that could hurt “the citizens or the constitutional system.” Thousands of Sudanese have protested against Bashir’s regime in cities across the country since December 2018. Acting U.S. Representative to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen expressed “deep concern” regarding the state of emergency and called on the Sudanese government to engage with protestors peacefully.[6]

Visit our YemenSomalia, and Sudan story streams.

[1] “Danny Burch: American oil worker freed after captivity in Yemen,” BBC, February 25, 2019,; and “Houthis free detained U.S. citizen, sends him to Oman: local sources,” Reuters, January 25, 2018,

Twitter, February 25, 2019

[2] Ali Mahmoud, “Arab coalition airdrop bolsters Yemeni Tribe fighting Houthis besieging Hajjah,” The National, February 26, 2019,; and “Houthis delay redeployment in Hudaydah indefinitely,” Hadramawt Net, February 26, 2019,

[3] “Remarks by the Secretary-General to the pledging conference for Yemen,” UNOG, February 26, 2019,; Patrick Wintour, “UN target of $4bn in aid for Yemen reliant on Saudi and US pledges,” The Guardian, February 26, 2019,; and “Guterres: We finally managed to reach the red sea mills stores,” SMA News, February 26, 2019,

[4] “AQAP claims attacks on IS in al Bayda, bombing SBF in Abyan and killing at least 4 including commander,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 25, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[5] “Al Shabaab degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia,” U.S. AFRICOM, February 25. 2019,

[6] “Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir bans unauthorised rallies,” Daily Nation, February 26, 2019,; and “US expresses ‘Deep Concern’ over Sudan state of emergency,” Voice of America, February 25, 2019,

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