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: Islamic State in Yemen conducts first suicide attack targeting AQAP in al Bayda governorate;  Emirati-backed security forces launch operation against AQAP in Shabwah governorate; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes reportedly kill Iranian officers in Sana’a and Sa’ada governorates; al Houthi representatives refuse to attend a Redeployment Coordination Committee meeting in al Hudaydah governorate

Horn of Africa: Likely al Shabaab VBIED detonates at Mogadishu junction; al Shabaab executes accused spies in Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to conduct a two-man suicide attack on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operational headquarters in Dhi Khalib al Asfal area of Upper Qayfa region in al Bayda governorate on March 24. The Islamic State has not conducted a suicide attack targeting AQAP since the groups began clashing in July 2018. The Islamic State in Yemen also claimed to attack two AQAP positions in the Jalajal and al Humayda areas in Qayfa on the same day. AQAP claimed to seize Islamic State positions in the Z’aj area in the same area after a 24-hour long battle on March 24.[1]

Emirati-backed Shabwani Elite Forces began Operation White Mountains to clear AQAP from Nasib and Merkhah districts in Shabwah governorate in Eastern Yemen on March 26. The Emirati Air Force is supporting the operation, according to Emirati military expert Khalfan al Kaabi.[2]

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sana’a governorate allegedly killed several Iranian officers on March 26, according to an Emirati news outlet. The Iranian officers reportedly included missile experts and intelligence officers advising al Houthi forces. A coalition airstrike also killed an Iranian officer in Sa’ada governorate on March 25, according to the same source.[3]

A meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in al Hudaydah was cancelled on March 25 after al Houthi movement representatives refused to enter territory controlled by Hadi government-aligned forces to attend the meeting. RCC Chairman Michael Lollesgaard was to reveal a new plan for military forces to withdraw from ports in al Hudaydah governorate.  The new plan is reportedly similar to previous proposals but will push the issue of the identities of the local security forces to oversee Saleef, Ras Isa, and al Hudaydah ports to the next phase of redeployments. The Hadi government has approved the new plan, but the al Houthi movement has yet to declare a position. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths discussed obstacles to the implementation of the first phase of the al Hudaydah redeployments during a meeting with Hadi government Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 25.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack near the K-4 junction in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, killed one person and injured two others. Al Shabaab is likely responsible for the attack.[5]

Al Shabaab militants executed five men accused of spying in the Yaq Barawe area of Bay region in southwestern Somalia.[6]

Visit our Yemen and Somalia story streams.

[1] “IS claims 2-man suicide raid on AQAP HQ coinciding with other attacks on its positions in Yemen,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 25, 2019, available by subscription at; and “AQAP claims storming IS position in al Bayda the same day group announces killing 10 of its fighters,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 25, 2019, available by subscription at

[2] “‘White Mountains, A Military operation targeting al-Qaeda in Shabwa,” Sky News Arabia, March 26, 2019,; and

Khalfan al Kaabi, Twitter, March 26, 2019,

[3] “Iranian experts and officers killed in Sana’a,” Al Ittihad, March 26, 2019,

[4] “Houthis reject the amended UN plan on Hudaydah,” Aden Lang, March 26, 2019,; “The government announces its approval of the redeployment plan in Hudaydah,” Barakish, March 25, 2019, ; and “Houthis fail to meet Hudaydah Coordination Committee,” Al Mashad al Yemeni, March 25, 2019,; and “Houthis reject the revised UN plan on al Hudaydah,” Hadramout Net, March 26, 2019,

[5] “IED attack kills one, injures two at KM4, Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, March 26, 2019; Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 26, 2019,; and  Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 26, 2019,

[6] “Somalia’s al Shabaab executes five men accused of spying,” Mareeg, March 26, 2019,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Apr '19
Mar '19
Feb '19