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: UAE-backed southern security forces prevent Saudi-led coalition forces from entering port of Aden; US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo plans to pressure UN to stop aid to Yemen

Horn of Africa: AFRICOM launches two airstrikes targeting al Shabaab in southern Somalia; al Shabaab accuses AFRICOM of deliberately targeting civilians; explosion kills court official in northern Somalia; al Shabaab targets humanitarian and diplomatic organizations in Mogadishu’s Green Zone

Yemen Security Brief:

UAE-backed southern security forces prevented Saudi-led coalition forces from entering the port of Aden in southern Yemen on March 2. Local sources stated that the UAE-backed forces did not allow the Saudi-led coalition forces to unload an oil tanker because they did not coordinate with southern forces about their arrival.[1]

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo planned a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to be held at the UN headquarters on March 6. Pompeo plans to pressure the UN to halt humanitarian aid operations in Yemen. The Trump administration stated that the al Houthi movement is taking advantage of the relief assistance.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted two airstrikes targeting al Shabaab near Qunyo Barrow in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region on March 2. The airstrikes killed one militant and injured two others. AFRICOM conducted an airstrike near Qunyo Barrow four days earlier on February 28.[3]

Al Shabaab released a statement on February 29 accusing the US of deliberately targeting civilians with airstrikes in Somalia. Al Shabaab’s statistics office calculated that over 80% of US strikes within the last 34 months targeted innocent civilians. A report by the British non-governmental organization, Airwars, assessed that about 21% of US airstrikes in Somalia in 2019 caused civilian casualties.[4]

Unknown actors detonated an improvised explosive device killing a regional court official in Las’anod, the capital of northern Somalia’s Sool region on March 3. Militants rarely conduct attacks in the Sool region.[5]

Al Shabaab launched two mortar rounds targeting foreign humanitarian and diplomatic organizations in the Green Zone located in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on March 1. The attack targeted an area of the Green Zone occupied by the United Nations, the African Union, and several Western embassies. The barrage wounded one foreign national. Al Shabaab previously assassinated a Somali-Canadian human rights activist in the Green Zone in November 2019.[6]

[1] “UAE-backed forces prevent Saudi militaries entering Aden,” Middle East Monitor, March 3, 2020,

[2] Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer, “Pompeo to pressure UN over aid to Yemen,” FP, March 2, 2020,

[3] “Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM target al-Shabaab,” AFRICOM, March 2, 2020,; and Pamela Makadsi and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 2, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 2, 2020,

[4] “Shabaab Accuses U.S. of ‘Campaign of Carnage’ Via Drones in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 2, 2020, available by subscription at; and Chris Woods and Alex Hopkins, “Annual Report 2019,” Airwars, February 2020,  

[5] “Massive car bomb kills regional court official in Las’anod,” Mustaqbal Radio, March 3, 2020,

[6] “Mortar shells strike Mogadishu’s heavily fortified Green Zone,” Garowe, March 3, 2020,; and Abdi Latif Dahir, “Almaas Elman, Somali-Canadian Activist, Is Shot Dead in Mogadishu,” The New York Times, November 20, 2019,

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