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: Pro-Hadi and allied forces advance in western Taiz city; Saudi delegation delivers aid to Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen; UK parliament forms committee to investigate the role of British arms in Saudi-led coalition campaign

Horn of Africa: Kenyan security forces arrest senior al Shabaab operative in Dadaab refugee camp, Garissa County, Kenya; al Shabaab official reported dead in airstrike gives speech in Buqda Caqable, Hiiraan region, Somalia; al Shabaab militants attack restaurant in Garbaharey town, Gedo region, Somalia with hand grenade; Norwegian oil executive under investigation for possible al Shabaab support

Yemen Security Brief

  • Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and allied militias advanced in western Taiz city on March 11, breaking a multi-month stalemate with al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Breaking reports indicate that pro-Hadi troops captured the Bir Basha area and the base of the 35th Brigade in Taiz’s Old Airport neighborhood, as well as parts of Taiz University. Pro-al Houthi sources have confirmed that al Houthi fighters are withdrawing from their positions in the area.[1]
  • A Saudi delegation delivered several truckloads of emergency humanitarian aid to Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen on March 11. The reports follow statements from coalition officials that the ongoing talks between Saudi and al Houthi officials, and the unofficial border truce, aim to promote stability and facilitate the delivery of aid to northern Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition has conducted frequent airstrikes on Sa’ada, an al Houthi stronghold, since it began the air campaign one year ago.[2]
  • British parliamentarians formed a special committee to investigate the role of British arms in the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen, amid continuing international criticism of high civilian casualties. The committee will focus on the UK’s arms exports licensing laws and whether sales to Saudi Arabia violate export regulations. The Campaign Against Arms Trade, a British activist organization, has initiated a high court case against the British government for the alleged role of UK arms in the coalition’s campaign.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Kenyan multi-agency security team arrested a Kenyan man identified as a senior al Shabaab operative near the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Garissa County, Kenya on March 11. A Kenyan spokesperson claimed that the suspect attempted to organize terror attacks inside the Dadaab Refugee Camp and was also involved in arms trafficking in East Africa. The Kenyan government frequently lobbies the United Nations to close the Dadaab camp, citing the security risk posed by the almost 350,000 people that are currently housed there.[4]
  • Mohammed Mire, al Shabaab’s self-proclaimed governor of Hiiraan region, made a public appearance in Buqda Caqable, Hiiraan, refuting reports of his death  in the March 6 U.S. airstrike on an al Shabaab camp in Raso, Hiiraan region. Mire spoke to a large group of people who were attending the execution of a man suspected of being a Somali National Army (SNA) solider.  Somali military officials claimed that Mire and another senior al Shabaab official, Yusuf Ali Ugas, were among the 150 militants killed in the U.S. strike. Ugas has not appeared since the strike, giving some credence to reports of his death.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants used a hand grenade to target a restaurant in Garbaharey town in southern Somalia’s Gedo region late on March 10. The blast killed four civilians and wounded at least two others. It is not known if the attack targeted a specific individual.[6]
  • The United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud office (SFO) announced that they are investigating Hassan Khaire, an executive director for the British oil and gas company Soma, for alleged links to al Shabaab. A SEMG memo disseminated to select British and Norwegian politicians last month described Khaire’s possible involvement with al Shabaab and cited possible cases of bribery involving public officials in Somalia. Khaire, a Norwegian national of Somali origin, is Soma’s director of African operations.[7]
[1] “Taiz .. Rapid developments, the army and the resistance capture western areas of the city and the al Houthis collapse,” Barakish, March 11, 2016,
“The resistance and the army gain successive victories in Taiz and liberate the 35th Brigade headquarters and Nadi al Saqr,” Al Masdar, March 11, 2016,
Yemen Now, Twitter, March 11, 2016,
Yemen Now, Twitter, March 11, 2016,
Mohammed Basha, Twitter, March 11, 2016,   
[2] “Saudi delegation visits Sa’ada,” Hawa al Yemen, March 11, 2016,
Mohammed Basha, Twitter, March 11, 2016,
[3] Patrick Wintour and Alice Ross, “UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia face inquiry and high court legal action,” The Guardian, March 10, 2016,
[4] “Key Al-Shabaab fighter nabbed in Kenyan refugee camp: official,” News24 Kenya, March 11, 2016,
[5] Hamza Mohammed, “Al-Shabab denies top leaders killed in US air strikes,” Al Jazeera, March 10, 2016,
[6]  “Hand grenade attack kills four and injures two in Garbaharey town,” Goobjoog News, March 11, 2016,
[7] Harry Davies and James Ball, “UN Investigates Director Of Oil Firm Chaired By Michael Howard For “Possible Extremist Links”,” Buzzfeed News, March 10, 2016.  
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