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: Hadi government representatives restate intent to return the government to Aden; security forces arrest mid-level AQAP leader in Taiz governorate; al Houthi forces block UN monitoring team leader from Ras Issa port; member of Abu Abbas-affiliated brigade assassinates 22nd Armored Brigade officer in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab spokesman blames Western leaders for New Zealand mosque shootings; al Shabaab seizes Bal’ad town near Mogadishu; al Shabaab seizes town in Gedo region after second Kenyan AMISOM withdrawal this month; al Shabaab promotes shari’a education program

Yemen Security Brief

A member of the Yemeni House of Representatives in Aden stated on March 19 that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government planned to return to the temporary capital of Aden. Jabel Taiman, leader of the Islah Party in the Hadi government parliament, stated that President Hadi will call upon all diplomatic missions to return to Yemen and that Hadi will replace government officials who do not return.[1]

Unidentified security forces in Taiz governorate arrested al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) mid-level leader Majid Mohamed Farhan Ahmed Mohamed Ali last week. The security forces also released a video of the AQAP leader that alleged a relationship between AQAP and the Saudi-led coalition-backed forces in Taiz.[2]

Al Houthi forces prevented Redeployment Coordination Committee Chairman Michael Lollesgaard from visiting Ras Issa port in al Hudaydah governorate on March 18, according to Hadi-aligned Brigadier General Askar Zahel. Zahel was a member of the Hadi delegation to the Stockholm talks in December.[3]

A member of the Abu Abbas-affiliated 35th Armored Brigade assassinated an officer in the 22nd Armored Brigade in central Taiz city on March 19. Soldiers and militiamen affiliated with the two individuals clashed in central Taiz city following the assassination. The Abu Abbas Head of Operations confirmed the arrest of two suspects that will be handed over to security officials under an official memorandum.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s spokesman, Ali Mohamed Rage, called for revenge in response to the March 15 shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in an audio statement on March 16. He accused American and European leaders of using rhetoric that motivated the shootings and reveals the West’s hatred for Muslims. Rage also called for Muslims living in the West to emigrate and live under shari’a.[5]

Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Bal’ad town in Middle Shabelle region, about 20 miles north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, on March 18. Somali National Army (SNA) reinforcements from Mogadishu recaptured the town with support from African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces based nearby. Al Shabaab militants freed prisoners from a jail in Bal’ad during the raid.[6]

Al Shabaab militants seized Busaar town in Gedo region, located in southern Somalia bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, on March 19 after Kenyan AMISOM forces withdrew from the area. The Kenyan forces withdrew to el Wak border town. Kenyan AMISOM forces also withdrew from Fafadun town in Gedo region in early March.[7]

Al Shabaab published a photoset of a graduation ceremony for students of a shari’a education curriculum on March 19, 2019. The press release accused the U.S. airstrike campaign against al Shabaab of undermining education and touted al Shabaab’s mission to provide a “cohesive social and intellectual environment.”[8]

Visit our Yemen and Somalia story streams.

[1] “Full return of the government with President Hadi to Aden,” Aden Gd, March 19, 2019,

[2] “Major al Qaeda leader in Taiz made serious confessions,” Yemen Press Agency, March 18, 2019,

[3] “Houthi intransigence disrupts the adoption of the next round of consultations in Yemen,” Aden Lang, March 19, 2019,; and “Al Houthi militia prevents Lollesgaard from visiting the port of Ras Issa,” 7adramout, March 19, 2019,

[4] “The assassination of a senior Yemeni army officer in the province of Taiz,” Mareb Press, March 19, 2019,;

“Dead and wounded in clashes between reformists and Salafis in Taiz...Names of dead and wounded,” Yemen Window, March 18, 2019, ; and “After bloody clashes in the streets of the city...Fifth Presidential Guard Brigade tells the story of Islah in the Taiz confrontations,” SMA News, March 19, 2019,

[5] “Shabaab spokesman condemns Trump in press conference on New Zealand shootings, vows revenge,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 17, 2019, translation available by subscription at

[6] “Two al-Shabaab militants killed in clashes in southern Somalia,” Xinhua, March 19, 2019,; “Al-Shabaab attack Bal’ad town, release inmates,” Goobjoog, March 19, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 19, 2019,

[7] Kenya forces pull out Busaar town of Gedo region, Somalia,” Goobjoog, March 19, 2019,

[8] “Shabaab promotes its educational curricula in controlled areas despite alleged U.S. attempts to undermine them,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 19, 2019, translation available by subscription at

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