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: Al Houthi movement threatens Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with missile strikes; Islamic State in Yemen attacks AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate; unidentified militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Hadramawt governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab seizes area in Lower Shabelle region after SNA forces withdraw; Djiboutian President inaugurates new embassy in Mogadishu; al Shabaab IED strikes Burundian AMISOM convoy in Middle Shabelle region; Somaliland and Puntland forces deploy to Sanaag region; clashes over grazing rights kill dozens in Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement spokesperson Yahya Sarea stated on March 17 that al Houthi forces are ready to strike Riyadh and Abu Dhabi if the Stockholm Agreement collapses. Sarea claimed that the al Houthi forces have been building ballistic capabilities and now have a “stockpile of missiles.”[1]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to attack al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Z’aj in Wald Rabia district in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on March 17. The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to kill one AQAP militant and injure one other.[2]

Unidentified militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite forces in al Shihr city on the coast in southern Hadramawt governorate in eastern Yemen on March 15. The blast killed one soldier and severely injured three others. Local media blamed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP sources have not claimed the attack or any attacks in Hadramawt governorate in 2019, however.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants seized Dhanaane in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia after Somali National Army (SNA) forces withdrew. Militants held an assembly in Dhanaane and arrested several residents. The SNA forces complained that they had not received their salaries for four months. The Somali Minister of Defense denied the accusation that it had not paid troops.[4]

Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh inaugurated a new embassy in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in a ceremony attended by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on March 17. Somali security forces closed city streets and public transportation for two days to prevent al Shabaab attacks during the diplomatic visit.[5]

An al Shabaab improvised explosive device (IED) struck a Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Balad town in Middle Shabelle region in southern Somalia on March 16. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[6]

Somaliland and Puntland deployed forces to Hadaftimo town in the disputed Sanaag region in northern Somalia on March 17. Puntland forces reportedly withdrew from the Galgala Mountains, where they were combating al Shabaab, to deploy to Sanaag.[7]

Clashes between rival clan militias over grazing rights killed at least thirty people in Burdere in Adale district in Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on March 17. The clashes were part of a cycle of violence between the two groups.[8]

Visit our YemenDjibouti, and Somalia story streams.

[1] “Yemen’s Houthis say ready to strike Riyadh, Abu Dhabi if coalition moves on Hudaydah,” Reuters, March 17, 2019,

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, March 18, 2019,

[3] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, March 16, 2019,

[4] “Al-Shabaab fighters seize areas in Dhanaane of Lower Shabelle, Somalia,” Goobjoog, March 18, 2019,; and “Somali Govt denies accusations that it failed to pay armed forces,” Radio Shabelle, March 3, 2018,

[5] “Djibouti inaugurates new Embassy building in Somalia,” Garowe Online, March 18, 2019,; and “Mogadishu streets on lock-down for second day,” Radio Shabelle, March 17, 2019,

[6] “Roadside bomb targets AU military convoy in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, March 16, 2018,

[7] John Snow, “Puntland-Somaliland tension builds up in north of Somalia,” Mareeg, March 17, 2019,

[8] “Clam return to Somalia town following deadly clashes,” Radio Shabelle, March 18, 2019,

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