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. forces conduct multiple airstrikes in Shabwah and Abyan governorate; Southern Movement leaders discuss Aden infighting

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants execute SNA soldier in Jilib, Middle Jubba region; international donors pledge continued financial support for AMISOM

Yemen Security Brief 

The Trump administration designated some areas of Yemen as “areas of active hostility.” This designation enables the U.S. military to conduct strikes with less oversight from the White House. Reported U.S. forces conducted between ten and fifteen airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants and infrastructure in Shabwah and Abyan governorates in southern Yemen on March 3. Locals claimed that U.S. ground forces engaged AQAP militants in these areas. U.S. officials denied claims that these strikes involved U.S. ground forces, however. U.S. forces conducted more than twenty airstrikes in al Bayda, Shabwah, and Abyan governorates on March 2.[1]

Yemeni Southern Movement leaders met in Riyadh on March 2 to discuss a solution to tensions between the various armed factions operating in Aden. Aden governor Aydarus al Zubaidi, Presidential Guard director Nasser Abed Rabbu, and Aden Security Director General Shalal Ali Shaye’a formed a committee to address recurring conflict between security authorities in Aden. The committee will focus on the future leadership of Aden International Airport security team. Hadi government forces confronted forces loyal to the head of security at Aden International Airport during a standoff over rumors of weapons smuggling from February 9 to 11. The Riyadh meeting coincides with a Southern Movement meeting in Aden which called for unity of purpose between groups supported by Saudi and Emirati funding.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

Al Shabaab militants executed a Somali National Army (SNA) soldier, Abrahim Adan Qassim, in Jilib town in Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia, on March 3. Al Shabaab militants captured Qassim in a village near Baidoa town in Bay region in November 2016. The militants shot and killed Qassim by firing squad after an al Shabaab court convicted him of being a soldier of the government of “infidels.” Al Shabaab has conducted similar public executions in the past in an effort to intimidate opposition security forces. Al Shabaab publicized the execution video of a Ugandan AMISOM soldier on January 17, 2017.[3]

Representatives of the European Union (EU), UN, United Kingdom and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) pledged to continue raising support and financial contributions for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). AMISOM leadership and top donors met during a five-day conference in Nairobi, Kenya that began on February 28. The representatives made commitments to fund the mission through its planned withdrawal in 2020.  AMISOM leaders expressed concern for a decline in funding over the past year and reiterated the essential stabilization role that AMISOM forces play in Somalia. The EU, AMISOM’s primary funding source, cut its funding by 20% in 2016. Budgetary constraints have hampered AMISOM’s ability to counter a resurgent al Shabaab.[4]

[1] Mohammed Mukhashaf and Phil Stewart, “U.S. hits al Qaeda in Yemen with new wave of strikes,” Reuters, March 3, 2017,; and Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Ali Al-Mujahed “Accelerating Yemen campaign, U.S. conducts flurry of strikes targeting al-Qaeda,” Washington Post, March 3, 2017,
[2] “High-level security leaders meet in Riyadh to solve conflict with security powers in Aden,” Aden Lange, March 2, 2017,; “Prominent leaders of the Southern Movement aim to consult on important causes for the South,” Aden Tomorrow, March 3, 2017,
[3] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “al Shabaab Executes Somali Soldier in Bay Region, Somalia,” Strategic Intelligence Service, March 3, 2017,; “al Shabaab executes Somali soldier in Bay region,” Goobjoog News, March 3, 2017,; and “Shabaab Executes Ugandan POW in Video, Shows Attacks in Kenya,” SITE Intelligence, January 17, 2017,
[4] “We’ll support AMISOM, pledge donors,” AMISOM, March 3, 2017,
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