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: White House welcomes announcement of coalition drawdown; AQAP executes three for “sorcery” in Hadramawt; UN human rights chief condemns March 15 airstrike in Hajjah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants capture Godob Jiran, Nugal region, Somalia; Kenyan ATPU forces conduct counter-terror operation in Mombasa, Mombasa County, Kenya; SFG sends heavy weaponry to Puntland to combat al Shabaab

Yemen Security Brief

  • The White House welcomed the Saudi-led coalition’s announcement that it will scale back its ground operation in Yemen in a March 17 statement. White House spokesman Josh Earnest also expressed concern for the humanitarian situation in Yemen, amid rising casualty counts from a March 15 airstrike in northeastern Hajjah governorate. The Saudi-led coalition announced on March 16 that it plans to reduce its presence on the ground to small training and advisory teams, though it will continue to provide full air and naval support to the government of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and its allies.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) executed three men for “sorcery” in Ghayl Ba Wazir, Hadramawt governorate on March 17. AQAP officials executed the men by gunfire in the public square. A pro-AQAP media outlet meanwhile publicized the event, which was attended by large crowds. AQAP is seeking to gradually implement its extreme interpretation of sharia law in its area of control in southeastern Yemen.[2]
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein condemned a reported coalition airstrike on a market in northeastern Yemen in a March 18 statement. Hussein suggested that the coalition is responsible for more civilian casualties than the rest of Yemen’s warring parties combined, according to UN data. The March 15 attack on a market in Mustaba’ district, Hajjah governorate killed over 100 civilians, according to the most recent estimates. The coalition has promised to investigate the strike.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants captured the settlement of Godob Jiran, Nugal region from Puntland Defense Forces (PDF) on March 17. The militants clashed with defending PDF forces for several hours before taking over of the settlement. They also cut the settlement’s telecommunication lines after its capture. The militants are from the group that initially conducted a sea-borne raid of the region’s Gara’ad village on March 14.[4]
  • Kenyan Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) forces conducted a counter-terror operation targeting al Shabaab militants on March 18 in Mombasa, Mombasa County. ATPU personnel killed one militant and arrested seven others. The militants are believed to be part of a larger wave of al Shabaab members fleeing Somalia for Kenya amid an increase in Kenya’s military operations in the country.[5]
  • The Somali Federal Government (SFG) is sending heavy weaponry and other military supplies to the Puntland Administration amid a significant surge in militant activity in the autonomous federal state. One plane full of equipment is currently en route from Mogadishu and a second is preparing to depart. The Puntland Administration’s territories are outside of the African Union Mission in Somalia’s mandated area of operations, leaving the PDF as the primary security organization to defend against the ongoing militant incursion that began on March 14.[6]


[1] “US welcomes Saudi move to wind down Yemen campaign,” Agence France Presse, March 18, 2016,
[2 “Al Qaeda executes three people in Ghayl Ba Wazir,” Barakish, March 17, 2016,
[3] “Saudi-led coalition kills 'twice as many' Yemen civilians as all other forces: UN,” Middle East Eye, March 18, 2016,
[4] “Al Shabaab takes fresh areas in Nugal region,” Shabelle News, March 17, 2016,
[5] “Mombasa ATPU kills an al Shabaab returnee and arrests 7 others; Stringent counterterrorism operations,” Strategic Intelligence Service, March 18, 2016,
[6] “Govt sends planeloads of weapons to Puntland,” Shabelle News, March 18, 2016,
“Somalia dispatches first airplane with heavy weaponry to Puntland,” Goobjoog News, March 18, 2016,
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