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: Emirati-backed forces rescued U.S. hostage from Yemeni gang; STC president addresses UK House of Commons; Hadi government spokesperson accuses al Houthi movement of “killing” Stockholm Agreement; al Houthis claim to conduct drone attack on Saudi Army base in Jizan

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks checkpoint near Villa Somalia with VBIED; al Shabaab attacks Somali police with IED near Afgoi; thousands of Ethiopians protest Oromia region

Yemen Security Brief

The New York Times reported on March 6 that Emirati-backed Yemeni forces rescued U.S. citizen Danny Burch in a UAE-coordinated operation in Ma'rib governorate in central Yemen. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a role in the rescue operation, but American Special Forces did not. Burch was working as an engineer at a Yemeni oil company when he was kidnapped in Yemen’s capital Sana’a in September 2017. The gang that kidnapped Burch, led by criminal Ali Nasser Saleh Huraiqidan, frequently holds Western hostages for ransom or sells them to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Burch returned to the U.S. on February 25, 2019. Western media previously reported that the al Houthi movement had released Burch to Oman in January 2018, but The New York Times' report made no mention of al Houthi involvement in Burch's kidnapping or release.[1]

Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaidi stated that southern Yemenis will not accept the pre-2014 Yemeni borders during a seminar in the UK House of Commons in London on March 6. Zubaidi stressed that the south must have the right of self-determination on the basis of a two-state system.[2]

The spokesperson for President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s army said on March 6 that the al Houthi movement has “killed” the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement and that the Hadi government reserves the right to respond to al Houthi violations of the agreement at any time. The Hadi government and the al Houthi movement agreed to the mutual redeployment of troops from ports in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen in December 2018, but implementation of the agreement has stalled.[3]

Al Houthi forces claimed to attack a Saudi Army base with a Qasef 2K drone near al Darb in northern Jizan region in southern Saudi Arabia on March 7. Al Houthi forces separately fired two Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles targeting Saudi and Hadi government-aligned forces at the Alab Border Crossing in Asir region in southern Saudi Arabia on March 6.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at a security checkpoint outside the presidential compound known as Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on March 7. The attack killed at least five Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers and injured nine others. Somali police arrested a suspect in connection with the attack.[5]

Al Shabaab attacked Somali police with an IED at a junction outside Mogadishu near Afgoi town in Lower Shabelle region on March 7. The explosion killed one civilian and injured a policeman.[6]

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in ten cities across Oromia region in southern and western Ethiopia on March 7. The protests were in response to the allotment of subsidized housing by the city government in the national capital, Addis Ababa. Protestors claimed that the Addis Ababa city administration did not consult the Oromia region government over the new developments, which will encroach on Oromia region territory. Protestors also claimed that the city’s housing policy has displaced Oromo farmers without sufficient compensation.[7]

Visit our Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia story streams.

[1] Adam Goldman and Declan Walsh, "Arab Raid Led to Freedom for American Hostage in Yemen," New York Times, March 6, 2019,; Jen Kirby, “Trump announces the recovery of an American hostage in Yemen,” Vox, February 25, 2019,; and “Yemen Houthis free detained U.S. citizen, sends him to Oman: local sources,” Reuters, January 25, 2018,

[2] “The South is a time bomb in the Yemen War,” Al Arab, March 7, 2019,

[3] Saeed al Abyad and Abdulhadi Habtor, “Yemeni Army Spokesman: Houthis Killed Stockholm Agreement,” Asharq al Awsat, March 7, 2019

[4] “The air force carries out a Qasef 2K attack on an enemy camp in Jizan,” 26 Sep Net, March 7, 2019,; and “Two rockets fired at the mercenaries in the border crossing of Alab,” 26 Sep Net, March 6, 2019,

[5] “Somalia: 5 killed, 9 injured in Mogadishu explosion,” Mareeg, March 7, 2019,; and “Shabaab claims car bombing at presidential palace checkpoint in Mogadishu,” Site Intelligence Group, March 7, 2019, English translation is available by subscription at

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, March 7, 2019,

[7] “Multiple protests across Oromia region in wake of condo houses distribution,” Addis Standard, March 7, 2019,; and “Ethiopia’s Oromia hit by protests over Addis Ababa housing project,” Africa News, March 7, 2019,

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