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. Secretary of Defense implores Congress not to limit U.S. support for Saudi-led coalition efforts in Yemen; AQAP resumes production of defunct news bulletin; AQAP militants assault al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate; al Houthi forces down “espionage” aircraft in southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government Parliament bans Emirati firm; al Shabaab claims attacks outside Mogadishu and northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis implored Congress not to limit U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen on March 14 in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY-R). Secretary Mattis affirmed that a reduction in U.S. military support could increase civilian casualties, exacerbate the risk of a regional conflict with Iran, jeopardize counterterrorism partnerships, and weaken U.S. rapport with Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Senate may vote on a draft resolution that would withdraw U.S. military support from the Saudi-led coalition during the week of March 19. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel also urged continued support for Saudi Arabia during a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13.[1] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) al Malahem media foundation released its first Madad news bulletin in over five years on March 13. The Madad news bulletin focused on praising Ahmad Nasir Jarrar, who was killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after killing a rabbi near Havat Gilad, West Bank. The bulletin quoted al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Emir Abu Musa’b Abdul Wadud who pledged to fight “crusaders” and Jews alongside Palestine. Madad bulletins are shorter than AQAP’s weekly newspaper al Masra, of which AQAP ceased production in July 2017.[2]

AQAP militants assaulted al Houthi forces for five and a half hours near Jabal Jamida in al Zub area, al Quraishyah district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on March 10, according to its official social media channel. AQAP militants claimed to capture five al Houthi troops and seize mines, ammunition, and light, medium, and heavy weaponry. AQAP has not claimed any attacks on its official channel in al Bayda since February 2, nor any other claims in Yemen since February 22.[3]

Al Houthi forces downed a Saudi-led coalition “espionage” aircraft in Asir province, southwestern Saudi Arabia on March 14. Al Houthi forces last claimed to down a “spy plane” in Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on January 25.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) Upper House of Parliament voted to ban Emirati port management company DP World from operating in Somalia due to concerns over sovereignty violations on March 15. The Lower House of Parliament vote to ban DP World on March 12. DP World negotiated a contract with the Somaliland and Ethiopian government to manage the Berbera port in the Gulf of Aden. Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi condemned the SFG’s rejection of the DP World deal as a “declaration of war” on March 8. The Arab League and Saudi Arabia offered to mediate the conflict between Somalia, Somaliland, and the United Arab Emirates on March 12 in response to appeals from the SFG.[5]

Al Shabaab claimed two attacks in Somalia on March 15. Al Shabaab seized control of a checkpoint in Alamada village, 20 miles northwest of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab also assassinated a Puntland security officer in Boosaaso, Bari region, northern Somalia on March 15. Al Shabaab also detonated an IED that killed two explosive experts near Boosaaso on March 14.[6] 

[1] Dion Nissenbaum, “Pentagon Asks Senate to Reject Criticism of Saudi War in Yemen,” Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2018,; and Karoun Demirjian, “Mattis asks Congress not to restrict U.S. support for Saudi bombing in Yemen,” The Washington Post, March 14, 2018,
[2] Madad Bulletin, Jihadology, March 13, 2018,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, March 13, 2018,
[3] AQAP launches extensive assault on al Houthi forces in al Bayda, Telegram, March 14, 2018; Elisabeth Kendall, March 14, 2018.
[4] “Dropping an espionage aircraft into Asir,” Al Masirah, March 14, 2018,
[5] “Somalia: Senate approves legilsation banning DP world from country,” Garowe Online, March 15, 2018,; Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Somalia parliament rejects Somaliland's Berbera port deal with DP World, Ethiopia,” Africa News, March 13, 2018,; and “Somalia: Govt Welcomes Arab League Statement On Berbera Port Deal,” Radio Shabelle, March 10, 2018,
[6] “Al Shabaab claims two attacks in Somalia,” Telegram, March 15, 2018.

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