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: Reported airstrikes in Hajjah governorate kill 22 civilians; AQAP targets Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate and al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate; Hadi government forces claim to advance in Sa’ada governorate; anti-al Houthi media accuse Houthis of assassinating Hadi-aligned politicians in Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Dozens of Somali tribal leaders pledge allegiance to al Shabaab; al Qaeda-linked group in Syria praises al Shabaab; U.S.-backed Somali forces raid al Shabaab position in Lower Shabelle region; SFG Prime Minister travels to Kismayo for talks with Jubbaland President; Sudanese parliament approves six-month state of emergency

Yemen Security Brief

Reported Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 22 civilians, including 12 children and 10 women, in Kushar district in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen on March 10 and 11. The airstrikes injured 30 other people. Pro-Saudi media blamed al Houthi artillery for the attack, which occurred in an area where al Houthi forces have been fighting a tribal uprising. The UN condemned the attack but did not name which force was responsible.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to target Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) on March 11 in al Mahfad district in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen. AQAP also targeted an al Houthi movement vehicle with an IED on March 10 in al Zahar district in al Bayda governorate in southern Yemen, killing two al Houthi soldiers and injuring another.[2]

The commander of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s 10th Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General Adul Barah, announced a campaign to clear al Houthi forces from Baqim district in Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen on March 12. Barah also announced that his forces along with the 63rd Mountain Brigade, 9th Mountain Infantry Brigade, and Sa’ada Axis forces have liberated much of Baqim district and reached the edge of Majz district in Sa’ada governorate. Independent sources have not verified these claims.[3]

Al Houthi forces killed the regional leaders of several Hadi government-aligned political parties in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen, according to anti-al Houthi media. Al Houthi forces killed the local heads of the General People’s Congress (GPC), Islah Party, and Nasserist party, as well as the spokesperson for the Hajoor tribal forces. The assassinations occurred in the victims’ homes in Bini Said village in Hajjah on March 11. Al Houthi forces also killed and kidnapped other Islah party members in Bini Said village.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab claimed that 40 Somali tribal leaders pledged allegiance to the leader of al Shabaab, Ahmad Umar, and vowed to fight the “occupiers” during a ceremony in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on March 11. Al Shabaab released photos of the ceremony, which Hussein Ali Fidow, a senior al Shabaab official, oversaw. Fidow spoke about al Shabaab’s provision of governance to local communities. The ceremony marked the end of a month-long course on shari’a law that al Shabaab gave to the elders.[5]

Hurras al Din, an al Qaeda-aligned group in Syria, praised al Shabaab on March 9 for its February 28 attack on the Makka al Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. Hurras al Din stated that they gave their support and blessing to al Shabaab for this successful attack, which lasted 20 hours and killed 25 people.[6]

U.S.-backed Somali special forces attacked al Shabaab near Awdheegle town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on March 11. United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike in support of the operation, which killed eight militants. Al Shabaab claimed to repel the attack and kill the operation’s American commander, injure two other U.S. soldiers, and kill six Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers. AFRICOM stated that no U.S. personnel were harmed during the operations.[7]

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire travelled to Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia, on March 11. Khaire is scheduled to hold talks with Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe as well as other local leaders, ministers, and lawmakers to discuss how to repair strained relations between the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the Jubbaland regional government. Five Federal Member States, including Jubbaland, suspended relations with the SFG in September 2018 over security, political, and economic disputes.[8]

Sudan’s parliament voted to shorten the nationwide state of emergency to six months during a session in Khartoum, Sudan on March 11. Sudanese President Omar al Bashir ordered a 12-month state of emergency in February in order to quell nationwide protests that began in December 2018.[9]

Visit our YemenSudan and Somalia story streams.

[1] “Dozens killed and injured by new airstrikes in western Yemen, UN coordinator condemns ‘outrageous’ toll,” UN News, March 11, 2019,; Hillary Leung, “A dozen children were killed in Yemen strikes during a two-day period, the UN says,” Time, March 12, 2019,; “Yemen’s warring sides trade blame after women and children killed,” al Jazeera, March 11, 2019,; and “Twenty-two civilians killed, including children, in north Yemen: UN,” Reuters, March 11, 2019,

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, March 11, 2019,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, March 12, 2019,

[3] “Army combing militia pockets between Baqim and Majz in Sa’ada,” Hadramawt Net, March 12, 2019,; and “Army announces new military operation in Sa’ada,” Barakish Net, March 12, 2019,

[4] “The most prominent of the party leaders targeted by Houthi militias,” Bawabatti, March 12, 2019,

[5] “Shabaab reports 40 Somali tribal leaders pledging allegiance to its leader and vowing to fight “occupiers” together,” March 11, 2019, Site Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at; and Sunguta West, “Hussein Ali Fiidow’s challenge to al Shabaab leadership,” The Jamestown Foundation, January 6, 2018,

[6] “AQ-Aligned Hurras Al-Deen in Syria praises Shabaab and Afghan Taliban for their respective large-scale raids,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 11, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 1, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 1, 2019,

[7] “Somali insurgents claim killing of US soldier in attack near Awdheegle,” Mareeg, March 12, 2019,; “Shabaab claims thwarting U.S. special forces raid outside Mogadishu and killing operation commander,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 12, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; and “U.S., Federal Government of Somalia target al Shabaab terrorists,” US AFRICOM, March 12, 2019,

[8] “Somalia: PM in Kismayo to mend fractured ties with Jubbaland,” Garowe, March 11, 2019,

[9] “Sudan parliament cuts state of emergency to 6 months,” Daily Nation, March 12, 2019,; and “Sudan protest hub: Lawmakers slash Bashir’s emergency rule,” Africa News, March 11, 2019,

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