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: UK Foreign Secretary meets with Hadi government and Saudi officials during visit to Yemen and Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition airdrops supplies to tribal militia in Hajjah governorate; STC representative demands southern self-determination in peace process; al Houthi forces claim to fire ballistic missiles at southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab occupies town in Gedo region; Somali security forces arrest three al Shabaab assassins in Mogadishu; suspected al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan police with IED in Garissa County; Somali PM calls for public cooperation with security forces after al Shabaab attack in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani in Aden city in southern Yemen on March 3 as part of Hunt’s three-day trip to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE. Hunt warned that the Yemen peace process is in serious jeopardy in a speech in Aden. His visit was the first visit to Yemen by a Western foreign minister since the civil war began in 2015 and the first visit by a UK Foreign Secretary since 1996. Hunt also met with President Hadi, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Assaf, and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al Jubeir in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 2. Hunt stated in Riyadh that a lack of trust has led the al Houthi movement to delay its withdrawal from Salif and Ras Issa ports in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen. The planned al Houthi withdrawals constitute the first phase of a UN-brokered agreement to demilitarize al Hudaydah city.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airdrops of weapons, ammunition, medical supplies, and food to the Hajoor tribe in Kushar district in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen on March 3 and 4. The Hajoor began an uprising against the al Houthi movement in Hajjah governorate on January 22. The Saudi-led coalition previously conducted airdrops to the Hajoor on February 19, 24, 26, and 28. The spokesman for the Saudi-led Coalition, Turki al Maliki, stated that the coalition is working with the Hajoor to cut off the supply lines of al Houthi forces in Hajjah governorate.[2]

A senior member of the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), Ahmed Omar bin Farid, stated on March 1 that southern Yemen demands the right of self-determination as a part of the Yemen peace process. Bin Farid also stated that southern Yemen will fight back if its demands are ignored. Bin Farid stressed that southern forces are under the command of the Saudi-led coalition and not that of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[3]

Al Houthi fighters claimed to target Saudi troops with a Badr 1-P ballistic missile near the Alab border crossing in Asir region in southern Saudi Arabia on March 4. Al Houthi media also claimed that the group fired three Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Saudi troops near the Alab border crossing and three other missiles at Saudi troops in al Sudais in Najran region in southern Saudi Arabia on March 3.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab occupied Fafadun town in Gedo region in southwestern Somalia on March 2 after Kenyan forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) withdrew from a base in the town. Al Shabaab militants entered the town without a fight after Kenyan forces withdrew to Giriley village, which is also in Gedo region and is closer to the Kenyan border. The Kenyan military did not provide an explanation for the withdrawal. Kenyan forces have controlled Fafadun town since 2012.[5]

Somali security forces arrested three members of al Shabaab’s Amniyat intelligence brigade in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on March 3. Security forces captured the men when their pistol malfunctioned during an assassination attempt of a woman in Mogadishu’s Hodan district. The three men confessed to planning assassinations of members of the Somali Federal Government (SFG).[6]

Suspected al Shabaab militants attacked Kenyan police officers with an improvised explosive device (IED) near Garissa town in Garissa County in northeastern Kenya on March 3. The explosion wounded several police officers and destroyed the vehicle.[7]

SFG Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire called on the Somali public to cooperate with security agencies in a televised speech on March 2 following al Shabaab’s attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, which lasted from February 28 to March 1. Khaire pledged to continue efforts to improve the Somali security forces and to build more military bases to accommodate troops. Al Shabaab’s 20-hour complex attack on the Mogadishu hotel complex killed 25 people and injured 131 others.[8]

Visit our YemenSomalia and Kenya story streams.

[1] Patrick Wintour, “Yemen peace process in ‘last chance saloon’, says Jeremy Hunt,” The Guardian, March 3, 2019,; Jeremy Hunt, Twitter, March 2, 2019,; Jeremy Hunt, Twitter, March 2, 2019,;

And Deborah Haynes, “Yemen ceasefire could fail within weeks, warns Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt,” Sky News, March 3, 2019.

[2] “Learn the details of the Coalition airdrop operation to the tribes of the Hajoor in Hajjah,” 7adramout, March 3, 2019,; “Coalition: Al-Houthi missiles endanger air navigation,” Al Arabiya, March 4, 2019,; Hajour News, Twitter, March 4, 2019,; and “Threat Update,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 21, 2019,

[3] Tom Miles, “Southern Yemenis warn exclusion from UN peace talks could trigger new conflict,” Reuters, March 1, 2019,

[4] “Ballistic missile hits Saudi army groups in Asir,” Saba Net, March 4, 2019,; and “Army inflicts on Saudi-led mercenaries heavy losses over last hours,” Saba Net, March 3, 2019,

[5] “Al Shabaab regains town in Somalia as Kenya pulls troops,” Garowe Online, March 4, 2019,

[6] “Police in Mogadishu arrest 3 al Shabaab militants,” Goobjoog, March 4, 2019,; “Three militants nabbed in Mogadishu operation,” Radio Shabelle, March 4, 2019,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 4, 2019,

[7] “Kenyan police convoy attacked with roadside bomb near Garissa,” Radio Shabelle, March 4, 2019,

[8] “Somali PM calls on the public to unite the war on al Shabaab,” Radio Shabelle, March 2, 2019,; “Shabaab claims 135 casualties and reiterates mission to ‘paralyze’ government in formal communique for Makka al-Mukaraha hotel raid,” Site Intelligence Group, March 3, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; and “Somalia: Body of 7-month old boy recovered after deadly Mogadishu attack,” Garowe, March 4, 2019,

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