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: AQAP announces upcoming interview with security official; al Islah fighters attack opposing parties in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims multiple attacks, including recapturing towns in Gedo and Lower Shabelle regions; car bomb kills civil engineer in Mogadishu; U.S. AFRICOM commander and ambassador visit Mogadishu; Somali forces conduct arrests in Baidoa; Sudanese President reduces jail term for state of emergency violations

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced through Telegram on March 19 that it will hold an open interview with a security official. The statement gives individuals two weeks to send in questions for the interview and did not identify the AQAP security official.[1]

Al Islah party militias launched a large-scale armed attack on a number of opposing groups’ headquarters, including the Abu Abbas and the General People’s Congress headquarters, in Taiz city on March 21. The attacks are in retaliation for an ambush by a group of Abu Abbas-affiliated 35th Armored Brigade soldiers on an al Islah-affiliated 22nd Armored Brigade officer in the center of the city on March 19. The 35th and 22nd brigades are the two main Yemeni army units in Taiz city and have historically clashed due to their differing loyalties.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab released a press release claiming multiple attacks that occurred between March 11 and 20. The group seized Busaar town in Gedo region after Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops withdrew. Al Shabaab also seized a town in Lower Shabelle region, south of the capital Mogadishu, after Somali National Army (SNA) forces withdrew amid a salary payment dispute with the federal government. Al Shabaab also claimed to conduct a bombing that wounded the former mayor of Daynile district in Mogadishu.[3]

A likely al Shabaab car bomb killed a Somali civil engineer on the KM 4 road in Mogadishu on March 21. No group has claimed the attack.[4]

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander General Thomas Waldhauser and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and senior Somali defense officials in Mogadishu on March 20.[5]

Somali security forces arrested dozens of people in a security operation in Baidoa, the capital of Somalia’s South West state, on March 21.[6]

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir reduced the maximum prison sentence for violating the state of emergency from 10 years to six months amid ongoing protests on March 21. Bashir declared the state of emergency in late February.[7]

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[1] “AQAP announces open interview with security official,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 19, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[2] Ben Ataf, Twitter, March 21, 2019,; “Al Islah militia is burning the headquarters of the Popular Congress and a number of parties in Taiz,” 7adramout, March 21, 2019,; and “After clashes in the city streets… thirty fifth brigade tells the story of al Islah in the confrontations in Taiz,” SMA News, March 19, 2019,; “The assassination of a senior Yemeni army officer in Taiz governorate,” Marib Press, March 19, 2019,

[3] “Shabaab retakes control over Busaar following Kenyan withdrawal, spokesman boasts of victories,” SITE Intelligence Group, English translation available by subscription at

[4] “Somali civil engineer killed in explosion in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, March 22, 2019,

[5] “US envoy and military chief in Africa meet with Somali PM in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, March 22, 2019,

[6] “Security operation in Baidoa nabs dozens,” Hiiraan, March 22, 2019,

[7] “Sudan protest hub: Bashir reduces jail term for violating state of emergency,” Reuters, March 22, 2019,

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