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: AQAP claims attacks against the Islamic State and Emirati-backed forces in southern and central Yemen; UK Foreign Minister meets with al Houthi delegation in Oman

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attack on hotel complex in Mogadishu ends after more than 20 hours; Sudanese President appoints new party leader; AFRICOM conducts airstrike targeting al Shabaab in Hiraan region

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to attack Islamic State in Yemen militants in the Qayfa area of al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on February 26 and 28, respectively. AQAP also claimed to separately target a vehicle of the Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) in al Mahfad district in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen on March 1.[1]

UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt met with an al Houthi movement delegation in Muscat, Oman on March 1 to discuss the planned withdrawal of al Houthi forces from two ports in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen. Al Houthi forces agreed to withdraw from the Saleef and Ras Issa ports north of al Hudaydah city as the first phase of a UN-brokered plan to demilitarize the city but postponed the withdrawals multiple times. Hunt will also visit the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with senior leadership from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government. Hadi government Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani separately stated on March 1 that there will be no further peace talks if the al Houthi movement does not comply with the first phase of the al Hudaydah withdrawals.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali security forces cleared al Shabaab militants from a hotel and business complex in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on March 1, a day after militants stormed the complex. Al Shabaab militants seized the Makka al Mukarama Hotel in the evening of February 28 after one of their militants broke through the hotel’s gate with a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED). The militants held the hotel complex for 20 hours and repulsed multiple attempts by Somali National Army (SNA) forces to recapture the building. The attack killed at least 25 people and injured more than 60 others, according to Somali officials. Al Shabaab conducted a similar attack on the same hotel in March 2015 that killed at least 20 people, including the Somali Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Office. Al Shabaab stated that the latest attack targeted Somali Federal Government officials and claimed that the attack shows that recent U.S. airstrikes have not degraded the group.[3]

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir appointed the deputy leader of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) as the new acting party leader on March 1. Ahmed will serve as the acting NCP head until the party’s next general convention. Bashir declared a national state of emergency in response to months of nationwide anti-regime protests on February 22.[4]

United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in the Hiraan region of central Somalia on February 28. The airstrike killed 26 militants.[5] 

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan story streams.

[1] “AQAP Claims wounding 2 SBF in bombing in Abyan, attacking IS in al Bayda,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 1, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[2] Patrick Wintour, “Hunt begins Gulf visit in attempt to salvage Yemen peace plan,” The Guardian, March 1, 2019,; “Head of the National Delegation meets with British Foreign Minister to review the Stockholm Agreement,” 26 Sep Net, March 1, 2019,; Tim Wyatt, “Yemen War: Jeremy Hunt flies to Middle East for talks amid humanitarian crisis,” The Independent, February 28, 2019,; and Mina Aldroubi, “Yemen Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani: UN failing to pressure Houthis on peace,” March 1, 2019,

[3] “Somalia: 25 killed in ongoing attack claimed by al Shabaab,” Mareeg,, March 1, 2019; Harun Maruf, Twitter, March, 1, 2019,; “Shabaab media unit gives details on suicide raid at Makka al-Mukurama Hotel in Mogadishu,” Site Intelligence Group, March 1, 2019, English translation is available by subscription at

[4] Yousra Elbagir, Twitter, March 1, 2019,; and “Sudan’s Bashir hands party leadership to new deputy,” Agence France Presse, March 1, 2019,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 22, 2019, Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute,

[5] “U.S., Federal Government of Somalia target al Shabaab terrorists,” AFRICOM, March 1, 2019,

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