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: Saudi-led coalition forces claim to disrupt attack on oil tanker in Arabian Sea; al Houthis sentence 35 pro-Hadi MPs to death; al Houthis continue clashing with Hadi government forces in al Hazm

Horn of Africa: Puntland State security forces arrest al Shabaab militants in northern Somalia; KDF begins negotiations to withdraw from Somalia; US Ambassador to Somalia calls for ceasefire in Gedo region; UAE suspends plans to build military base in northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief:

The Saudi-led coalition forces claimed they disrupted an attack targeting an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea on March 4. A coalition spokesman said four boats attempted to attack the tanker sailing 90 miles south of Yemen’s Nishtun port in al Mahrah governorate in southeastern Yemen. The spokesman did not attribute the attack to any actors. The Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government forces seized a port used by al Houthi militants for arms smuggling in al Mahrah governorate in mid-February.[1]

The al Houthi movement sentenced 35 Yemeni members of Parliament to death in an al Houthi court in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on March 3. The militants charged the parliamentarians with treason for supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[2]

Yemeni local sources stated this week that clashes continue between the al Houthi militants and Hadi government forces in al Hazm, the capital of al Jawf governorate in northern Yemen. Residents of al Hazm cited al Houthi militant abuses against civilians and military personnel including kidnappings and killings. The al Houthi movement seized al Hazm on March 1, marking the first time that the Saudi-led coalition has lost a Yemeni governorate capital in over two years.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Puntland State security forces arrested eight members of al Shabaab in Boosaaso, the capital of Puntland State in northern Somalia on March 4. Security officials are searching for the group’s leader who escaped during the arrests. Al Shabaab claimed an improvised explosive device attack on Puntland State security forces in Boosaaso in late February.[4]

Kenyan officials announced on March 4 that they would begin scheduled negotiations to withdraw the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) from Somalia by 2021. The KDF first deployed to Somalia in 2011 to combat al Shabaab.[5]

US Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto called for a ceasefire between the Somali National Army (SNA) and Jubbaland State security forces in the Gedo region of southern Somalia’s Jubbaland State on March 2. Skirmishes between the two forces continue after a month of escalating tensions since the SNA took control of the region from state officials in early February.[6]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) suspended plans to build a military base in Berbera in Somaliland in northern Somalia on March 4. The Somali Federal Government opposed the 2017 proposed plan. The UAE military operates a military base in neighboring Djibouti.[7]

[1] “Saudi-led coalition says it foiled attack on oil tanker off Yemen,” Reuters, March 4, 2020,; and “Arab coalition seizes al Houthi arms smuggling port near Oman,” 7adramout, February 19, 2020,

[2] Saeed al-Batati, “Houthi court sentences 35 Yemeni lawmakers to death,” Arab News, March 4, 2020,

[3] “Houthis Launch Sectarian Killing Spree in Jawf Province,” Aawsat, March 4, 2020,; and Pamela Makadsi and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 2, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute,

[4] “Al Shabaab Militants Arrested in Boosaaso Market,” Puntland News 24, March 4, 2020,; and “Shabaab Claims Attacks in Kenya’s Garissa and Mandera Counties, Firing 30 Mortars at Ugandan Bases in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 27, 2020, available by subscription at

[5] Nyambega Gisesa, “Kenya to start talks on KDF exit from Somalia,” March 4, 2020,

[6] US Embassy Mogadishu, Somalia, Twitter, March 2, 2020,; and Emily Estelle, “Africa File,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 12, 2020,

[7] “UAE cancels construction of military base in Somaliland,” Garowe, March 4, 2020,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Apr '20
Mar '20
Feb '20