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. withdraws remaining personnel from Yemen; unidentified gunmen seize al Hawta city, Lahij; Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi requests military intervention from Gulf States; al Houthis take control of Taiz city

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and Somali forces capture coastal town in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab conducts grenade attack in Lower Shabelle region; gunmen attack vehicle in Mudug region; clan militias clash in Hiraan region

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. announced the evacuation of its remaining personnel from Yemen on March 21 due to Yemen’s deteriorating security situation. The evacuation includes the withdrawal of approximately 100 U.S. Special Operations Forces stationed at al Anad Airbase in Lahij, southern Yemen. [1]
  • Unidentified militants seized al Hawta city, Lahij on March 20. While the city was in their control, militants executed 29 Special Security Force (SSF) soldiers and looted banks, a SSF military camp, and private businesses. The militants withdrew from al Hawta after Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi deployed forces to al Hawta on March 21. It is unclear who the militants were. There are unverified reports that the militants were Ansar al Sharia while others have suggested that the militants were pro-Hadi militias. An Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) supporter alleged via Twitter that ISIS supporters conducted the attack.[2]
  • Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government requested military intervention by Gulf forces on March 23 in response to the al Houthi’s southward expansion. Yemen’s foreign minister requested that the UN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) impose a no-fly-zone. There are unconfirmed reports that Saudi aircraft arrived in Aden city, Aden, on March 22 to defend the presidential palace from continued al Houthi-ordered airstrikes.[3]
  • The al Houthis deployed militants, SSF soldiers, and tanks from the capital, Sana’a, to Taiz city, Taiz on March 20 and were in control of parts of the city by March 22. The al Houthis also reportedly began moving towards the port city Mocha, Taiz, on March 22.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces supported by Jubbaland forces captured the town of Kuday, Lower Jubba region on March 22. It was reported that al Shabaab had withdrawn from the town before AMISOM and Somali forces moved in. The coastal town was used by al Shabaab to export charcoal and import arms.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants conducted a grenade attack in the town of Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region on March 21. At least two civilians were killed and five wounded in the attack. Al Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the attack.[6]
  • Unknown gunmen opened fire on a vehicle in Galkayo, Mudug region on March 21, killing two and wounding five. A Puntland official accused Galmudug administration forces of being behind the attack. A Galmudug administration official said that they had launched an investigation into the incident.[7]
  • Clan militias fought in the town of Deefow, Hiraan region on March 21. At least twelve people have been killed in this latest clash. The Hawadle and Surre clans had agreed to a peace deal earlier in the year after previous bouts of fighting. [8]

[1] “Relocation of U.S. personnel from Yemen,” U.S. state department, March 21, 2015. Available:
“Lahij: AQAP launches deadly assault, U.S. withdraws,” Yemen Times, March 23, 2015. Available:
[2] “Al Qaeda withdraws from al Hawta,” Yemen Akhbar, March 21, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Bombings in Yemen mosque kill more than 130,” New York Times, March 20, 2015. Available:
“Gunmen execute 29 soldiers in al Hawta, Lahij,” Barakish, March 20, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“GPC and its allies hold Hadi responsible for slaughter of soldiers in Lahij,” Barakish, March 21, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Hadi requests GCC military intervention against coup,” al Masdar, March 23, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Houthis declare war, call on Islamic duty,” al Masdar, March 22, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Saudi aircraft in Aden,” Yemen Now, March 22, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Al Houthis are moving towards Mocha and Bab el Mandeb,” al Masdar, March 22, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Yemen Foreign Ministry calls for Gulf Arab military intervention,” Reuters, March 23, 2015. Available:
[4] “Photos… Reinforcements to Taiz from Sana’a,” al Masdar, March 22, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
“Rebels seize key parts of Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz,” NY Times, March 22, 2015. Available:
“Urgent message on the security situation in Taiz,” al Watanye, March 20, 2015 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Somali, AU Forces Retake Island from Al-Shabab,” Voice of America, March 22. Available:
[6] Yassin Juma, “2 killed in attack on market in southeastern Somalia,” Hiiraan Online, March 22. Available:
[7] “Two people killed in Galkaayo,” Bar Kulan, March 21. Available:
[8] “Deadly Clan violence leaves over 10 dead in Somalia,” Horseed Media, March 21. Available:
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