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: Reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP commander in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen; Amnesty International investigation reveals Saudi-led coalition forces use cluster munitions in Yemen; Hadi government forces advance in Nihm, northeastern Sana’a governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM base and airstrip in Bardhere, Gedo region; suspected al Shabaab gunmen conduct spree of assassinations throughout Somalia; World Bank to provide $1.6 billion financial package for humanitarian assistance in Africa and Yemen

Yemen Security Brief 

A reported U.S. airstrike targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on March 9. The airstrike killed AQAP commander Qasim Khalil in al Wadi’a, central Yemen. The U.S. conducted dozens of airstrikes targeting AQAP militants in Yemen between March 2 and 6. AQAP arrested two individuals accused of being U.S. informants in southern Abyan governorate following these airstrikes.[1]

Saudi-led coalition forces used Brazilian cluster munitions in residential areas in northern Yemen, according to an Amnesty International report. The coalition used cluster munitions in and around Sa’ada city in January and February 2017. Saudi Arabia is not a signatory of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The U.S. Department of State approved a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia previously blocked by the Obama administration on March 8. The Obama administration blocked a $350 million sale of 16,000 guided munition kits to Saudi Arabia in December 2016, citing humanitarian concerns.[2] 

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed to advance the frontline in northeastern Sana’a governorate, northern Yemen, on March 8. Hadi government forces claimed to seize a mountain overlooking Arhab district, just east of Nihm district. Hadi government forces have failed to advance the frontline beyond Nihm, located 100 kilometers northeast of Sana’a city, for most of the current conflict. A military spokesman claimed that government forces will now sever the road between Arhab and Bani Hushayah, the district that borders Sana’a city to the east.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

Al Shabaab militants attacked Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces stationed at a base and airstrip in Bardhere in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on March 9. The militants fired mortars at AMISOM positions before gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attempted to storm the base. AMISOM forces repelled the attack. Al Shabaab-linked media channels claimed that the militants killed several AMISOM soldiers. The attack follows several arrests of al Shabaab militants in Gedo region in the past week. The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) also conducted airstrikes on al Shabaab positions near El Adde, located 100 kilometers northwest of Bardhere, on February 28.[4]

Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinated several government officials and clan elders throughout Somalia between March 7 and 8. Suspected al Shabaab gunmen assassinated an officer of Somalia’s National Security and Intelligence Agency (NISA) and a local government official in Mogadishu on March 7 and 8. Al Shabaab also conducted attacks in central and southwestern Somalia. Two suspected al Shabaab gunmen shot and killed a clan elder and delegate involved in Somalia’s election process in Adado town in Galgudud region, central Somalia, on March 8. Suspected al Shabaab militants attempted to assassinate a Puntland parliamentarian with a car bomb in Galkayo in Mudug region, central Somalia, on March 8. Galgudud and Mudug regions encompass most of central Somalia, located north of Mogadishu. Suspected al Shabaab militants also attempted to assassinate the district commissioner of Luuq in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on March 8. Al Shabaab militants frequently clash with Somali security forces and KDF forces in Gedo region along the Kenyan-Somali border. [5]

The World Bank Group announced a plan to provide a $1.6 billion financial package for food insecurity and impending famine conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen on March 8. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim issued a statement calling on the international community to respond quickly and decisively to the humanitarian crisis. The World Bank is coordinating with the UN to provide financial support for humanitarian aid programs. UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked the international community to contribute $4.4 billion to assist more than 20 million people at risk across Africa and the Middle East.[6]

[1] The killing of al-Qaeda leader airstrike in al Wadi’a in Abyan,” Aden Lang, March 9, 2017,; and “Yemen's al-Qaeda detains 2 militants for 'spying for US,'” The Daily Star, March 8, 2017,
[2] “Yemen: Saudi Arabia-led coalition uses banned Brazilian cluster munitions on residential areas,” Amnesty, March 9, 2017,; and Missy Ryan and Anne Gearan, “Trump administration looks to resume Saudi arms sale criticized as endangering civilians in Yemen,” Washington Post, March 8, 2017,
[3] “National Army controls the Jebel dawa and progresses toward al ‘Aiani overlooking Bani Hushayah,” Aden Lang, March 9, 2017,
[4] “Al Shabaab attacks an airport in Bardere town,” Shabelle News, March 9, 2017,; and “Al Shabaab attacks Berdere airstrip housing AMISOM base,” Garowe Online, March 9, 2017,
[5] “Gunmen kill elder involved in election near Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, March 8, 2017,; “Gunmen kill official in the capital Mogadishu,” Garowe Online, March 9, 2017,; “Puntland MP Critically Hurt in Galkayo Car Bomb Attack,” All Africa, March 8, 2017,; “Third intelligence official gunned down in Mogadishu in three days,” Goobjoog News, March 8, 2017,; and “Luuq DC escapes assassination attempt,” Goobjoog News, March 8, 2017,
[6] “World Bank Group President Calls for Urgent Action on Hunger Crisis,” The World Bank, March 8, 2017,; and “Tackling hunger crises in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen requires $4.4 billion,” UN News Centre, February 22, 2017,
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