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.
Gulf of Aden Security Review - April 20, 2018Co-Authors:
Miranda Morton, Peter Cialone, Tomás Perez
Yemen: Al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport, Saudi Arabia; Tariq Saleh’s forces attack al Houthi forces in Taiz governorate; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with Acting U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.; AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate
Horn of Africa: Opposition leader calls for resignation of Somaliland president; SNA and AMISOM forces continue offensive against al Shabaab in central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting Saudi Arabia on April 20. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki stated that Saudi air defenses intercepted the ballistic missile. Al Houthi forces previously targeted Jizan Regional Airport with a Badr 1 ballistic missile two days ago on April 18. The al Houthi movement pledged to launch daily ballistic missile strikes against Saudi Arabia on April 10.in southwestern
National Resistance Forces led by Tariq Saleh, nephew of the late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, attacked al Houthi forces for the first time near Khalid bin al Walid military camp in , Taiz governorate on April 19. The Saudi-led coalition facilitated Tariq Saleh’s efforts to establish and command the National Resistance Forces in March. Republican Guard forces, previously loyal to former President Saleh, and Hadi government paramilitary Central Security Forces also fought against the al Houthi forces. Emirati Apache helicopters supported the anti-al Houthi forces. Khalid bin al Walid military camp is located next to Mokha junction, a major crossroad that connects al Hudaydah port and Taiz city. The Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government are conducting an offensive to advance northward along Yemen’s western coast to seize al Hudaydah port from the al Houthi movement. President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad urged the people of al Hudaydah to support al Houthi forces as anti-al Houthi forces prepare to take al Hudaydah port on April 19. Samad met with al Houthi local authorities of al Hudaydah city.
Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in Washington, D.C. on April 19. Sullivan and Griffiths discussed the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the delivery of aid to Yemeni civilians. Sullivan expressed his support for a comprehensive political agreement.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants assassinated al Houthi leader Abu Azizah in the cultural quarter of , southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 18, according to an official AQAP media channel. AQAP militants also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi forces in al Wathba area near , northwestern al Bayda on April 18, according to an official AQAP media channel.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Somaliland opposition party leader Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro called for President Muse Bihi Abdi to resign on April 19. Irro accused Abdi of lying about the details of a deal allowing the UAE to access Somaliland’s Berbera port. Emirati Minister for Foreign Affairs claimed on April 18 that the Somali Federal Government (SFG) agreed to the port deal under former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Somaliland, Emirati port operator DP World, and Ethiopia later signed an agreement that divided ownership of the Berbera port between the three countries on March 1, 2018. The SFG rejected the deal, claiming it violated Somalia’s sovereignty. The UAE and Somaliland also signed a separate agreement to establish an Emirati military base in Berbera, Somaliland, northwestern Somalia in February 2017.
Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces began operations intended to regain control of important highways from al Shabaab in central Somalia. SNA and AMISOM forces began operations to retake the road connecting Jowhar and Bal’ad towns in on April 19. SNA-AMISOM forces also conducted a security operation targeting al Shabaab militants in Mudug region, north-central Somalia on April 20. Al Shabaab regularly targets security forces in central Somalia, where militants maintain support zones.
 “Badr 1 Ballistic missile launched on Jizan Regional Airport,” Saba, April 20, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news493779.htm; “For the second time in 48 hours, Badr 1 ballistic missile bombs Jizan regional airport,” Al Masirah, April 20, 2018, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=22530&cat_id=3; and “Joint Forces Command of the Coalition: Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts and Destroys Ballistic Missile Launched by Iranian Houthi Militia at Saudi Arabia,” SPA, April 20, 2018, http://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1754530.
 Ahmed Al-Haj, “At least 25 killed in battle for southwest Yemeni province,” AP, April 19, 2018, https://apnews.com/e290d0a7ad2c41e0ad04edbe6f327a48/At-least-25-killed-in-battle-for-southwest-Yemeni-province; “Al Houthi militia asks the people of Hodeidah for their support,” Aden Lang, April 20, 2018, http://adnlng.info/news/92792/; “Nephew of former Yemeni president leads clashes against Houthi forces,” Reuters, April 19, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/nephew-of-former-yemeni-president-leads-clashes-against-houthi-forces-idUSKBN1HQ23D; “Urgent: Tariq Saleh's first military move in Taiz begins,” Yemen Saeed, April 19, 2018, https://www.yemensaeed.net/news111769.html; and “Killed and wounded dozens and the destruction of three armored vehicles broke the march of mercenaries in Taiz,” Saba News, April 19, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news493765.htm.
 “Acting Secretary Sullivan's Meeting With UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths,” U.S. Department of State, April 19, 2018, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/04/280625.htm; “Sullivan meets with Martin Griffiths to discuss Yemen,” Kuwaiti News,
April 20, 2018, https://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2722178&language=en; and “UN’s new Yemen envoy holds talks in Washington” The National, April 19, 2018, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/un-s-new-yemen-envoy-holds-talks-in-washington-1.723267.
 “AQAP claimed assassination of al Houthi leader Abu Azizah in the cultural quarter of al Bayda city, Telegram, April 20, 2018; and “AQAP militants claim IED attack on al Houthi forces in al Wathba area, al Bayda,” Telegram, April 20, 2018.
 “Somaliland Opposition Leader Irro Demands President Bihi Resignation For “Lying” Over Berbera Port Deal,” Radio Dalsan, April 19, 2018, https://www.radiodalsan.com/en/2018/04/19/somaliland-opposition-leader-irro-demands-president-bihi-resignation-for-lying-over-berbera-port-deal/; “Waddani’s Irro calls for resignation of Bihi, prosecution of Silanyo for ‘betrayal’,” Goobjoog, April 19, 2018, http://goobjoog.com/english/waddanis-irro-calls-for-resignation-of-bihi-prosecution-of-silanyo-for-betrayal; and “ UAE says previous Somali gov't signed off on Berbera deal,” Hiiraan Online, April 19, 2018, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2018/Apr/157684/uae_says_previous_somali_gov_t_signed_off_on_berbera_deal.aspx.
 “Galmudug Forces Conduct Security Operation In Mudug Area, Somalia; Several Al Shabaab Arrested,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 20, 2018, https://intelligencebriefs.com/galmudug-forces-conduct-security-operation-in-mudug-area-somalia-several-al-shabaab-arrested/; and “SNA Forces Launch Operations to Secure Jowhar-Bal’ad Road,” Halbeeg, April 19, 2018, https://en.halbeeg.com/2018/04/19/sna-forces-launch-operations-to-secure-jowhar-balad-road/.
Yemen: Al Houthi forces claim to down U.S. drone in al Hudaydah governorate; AQAP blames Emirati and Emirati-backed forces for imam assassinations in southern Yemen; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport, Saudi Arabia
Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Prime Minister appoints new cabinet; SNA and AMISOM forces recapture five villages from al Shabaab militants in Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Al Houthi forces claimed to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in al Houthi movement shot down a MQ-9 Reaper drone near Sana’a city, northern Yemen on October 1, 2017., western Yemen on April 18. The
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed the UAE and Emirati-backed forces are responsible for a string of imam assassinations in southern Yemen in its second issue of Madab bulletin published on April 18. The bulletin also called for Yemeni southerners to rebel against the UAE. Militants have assassinated at least 25 imams in Aden and southern Yemen since 2016. No group has claimed responsibility for the imam assassinations.
Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting , Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 18. The Saudi-led coalition has not confirmed the al Houthi missile launch. The al Houthi movement has launched six ballistic missiles targeting Jizan region since April 1.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a new 16-member cabinet on April 19. Prime Minister Abiy appointed ten new ministers and reshuffled six ministers from the cabinet of his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn. Abiy appointed Motuma Mekassa as the Ethiopian defense minister. Abiy and Mekassa are members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which is the party in the ruling coalition that represents the largest ethnic population in Ethiopia. Ahmed promised to address the grievances of ethnic communities, like the Oromo and Amharic groups, that have protested against political and economic marginalization. Ahmed is Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister.
Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured five villages from al Shabaab militants in , central Somalia on April 18. A SNA commander stated that security forces captured Qoordhere, Qorah Madobe, Waraxley, War Cise, and Qab Duco villages from al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab withdrew from the villages before ambushing SNA forces in a village between and in Middle Shabelle region. Al Shabaab frequently targets security forces in central Somalia to restrict access to the roads and maintain support zones.
 “Air defenses bring down MQ-9 aircraft in Hudaydah,” Saba, April 18, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news493690.htm; “Yemeni forces shoot down a US MQ 9 aircraft in Hudaydah,” Al Mayadeen, April 18, 2018, http://www.almayadeen.net/news/politics/872496/%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%81-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B8%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%A5%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9; and “Houthis claim to bring down US drone aircraft in al Hudaydah,” Aden Lang, April 19, 2018, http://adnlng.info/news/92717/.
 “AQAP Charges UAE-Backed Forces with Assassinating Scholars in 2nd Issue of Madad Bulletin,” SITE, April 18, 2018, https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/Statements/aqap-charges-uae-backed-forces-with-assassinating-scholars-in-2nd-issue-of-madad-bulletin.html.
 “Badr 1 ballistic missile targets Jizan airport,” Saba, April 18, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news493688.htm; and “Missile force targets Jizan airport with a ballistic missile,” Al Masirah, April 18, 2018, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=22479&cat_id=3.
 “Ethiopia's new premier reshuffles cabinet as part of reform bid,” Reuters, April 19, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-government/ethiopias-new-premier-reshuffles-cabinet-as-part-of-reform-bid-idUSKBN1HQ0TV; “Ethiopian Premier Puts Ally in Defense to Address Insecurity,” Bloomberg, April 19, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-19/ethiopian-appoints-new-petroleum-minister-in-cabinet-reshuffle; “Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed names cabinet,” Al Jazeera, April 19, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/ethiopia-prime-minister-abiy-ahmed-names-cabinet-180419093354713.html; “Ethiopia parliament ratifies PM Abiy's first cabinet,” Africa News, April 19, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/04/19/ethiopia-parliament-ratifies-pm-abiy-s-first-cabinet/; and “News: PM Abiy Ahmed forms his new cabinet; Parliament elects new speaker,” Addis Standard, April 19, 2018, https://addisstandard.com/news-pm-abiy-ahmed-forms-new-cabinet-parliament-elects-new-speaker/.
 “Somali forces recover 5 villages in southern Somalia,” Xinhua, April 18, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/18/c_137120592.htm; “Somali forces capture 5 villages in Middle Shabelle region,” Goobjoog, April 18, 2018, http://goobjoog.com/english/somali-forces-capture-5-villages-in-middle-shabelle-region/; and “Five Somali soldiers killed in Al-Shabaab ambush in Middle Shabelle region,” Goobjoog, April 18, 2018, http://goobjoog.com/english/five-somali-soldiers-killed-in-al-shabaab-ambush-in-middle-shabelle-region/;
Yemen: Al Houthi forces launch a drone and a ballistic missile targeting Emirati positions in western Yemen; Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces kill local AQAP leader and militant in al Wade’a district, Abyan governorate; ISIS claims attack targeting “Yemeni Army” forces in al Bayda governorate
Horn of Africa: Sierra Leonean police officers deploy to assist Somali police in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; SNA forces attack al Shabaab militants in Hiraan region, central Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
Al Houthi forces claimed to attack an Emirati command center and missile defense system with a drone and ballistic missile strike in , western Taiz governorate and Mushij city, in western , western Yemen on April 17. Emirati forces intercepted a ballistic missile near al Khokha city, southwestern al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen and a Qasef-1 kamikaze drone on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, according to Emirati sources. Al Houthi forces disabled an Emirati Patriot air defense system by striking the system with an explosive kamikaze drone before launching a ballistic missile at the site in Mokha district, Taiz governorate, western Yemen on February 18.
Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces killed a local al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader and militant in al Wade’a district, central , southern Yemen on April 18. AQAP militants have conducted three attacks against al Hizam Security Forces in al Wade’a district since January 7.
Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda in Yemen claimed its militants attacked “Yemeni Army” forces in Qayfa area, northwestern , southwestern Yemen on April 16. ISIS shared images on social media of captured “Yemeni Army” troops and equipment from the attack. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda typically targets al Houthi forces in al Bayda. ISIS may have been referring to al Houthi forces as Yemeni Army forces. 
Horn of Africa Security Brief
The government of Sierra Leone deployed 160 Formed Police Unit officers to Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on April 17. The government of Sierra Leone sent the police forces to mentor Jubbaland State police forces implementing law enforcement reform programs. The contingent is the largest police unit that Sierra Leone has sent under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). AMISOM forces are training and recruiting Somali police officers in order to transfer security responsibilities to Somali forces.
The Somali National Army (SNA) killed about 30 al Shabaab militants in an offensive across , central Somalia on April 17. An SNA spokesman said that security forces attacked al Shabaab militants along the highway connecting Beledweyne, Mahas, and Mataban towns. Al Shabaab frequently targets security forces with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes on the roads in central Somalia.
 A Joint operation of the missile force and airforce targeting the herds of invaders in the West Coast,” al Masirah, April 17, 2018, http://almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=22427&cat_id=3; “Joint operation of missile force and air force directed at invaders and mercenaries,” Saba New, April 17, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news493568.htm; and “UAE Armed Forces intercept Iranian plane loaded with explosives,” WAM, April 18, 2018, http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302682850.
 “Al Qaeda Leader and another militant killed in clashes against security forces in Abyan,” Al Masdar, April 18, 2018, http://almasdaronline.com/article/98395; and Pictures of al Qaeda members killed by security operation in Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, April 18, 2018, http://adengd.net/news/313782/.
 “ISIS posts photos of fighting the Yemen army in Qafa, al Bayda,” Twitter, April 16, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/985870479549493248; and Part of the attack by the soldiers of the caliphate on the positions of the Yemeni army apostate in the region Qiva, Telegram, April 16, 2018.
 “Sierra Leone deploys 160 police officers to Somalia,” AMISOM, April 18, 2018, http://amisom-au.org/2018/04/sierra-leone-deploys-160-police-officers-to-somalia/; “Sierra Leone deploys Police trainers to Somalia,” Hiiraan Online, April 18, 2018, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2018/Apr/157647/sierra_leone_deploys_police_trainers_to_somalia.aspx; and “Sierra Leone deploys 160 police officers to Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, April 18, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/sierra-leone-deploys-160-police-officers-somalia/.
 “Somalia: Militants killed in extensive army operation in Hiran,” Garowe Online, April 17, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-militants-killed-in-extensive-army-operation-in-hiran; “Somali military says 30 fighters killed in offensive against Al-Shabab,” Radio Shabelle, April 17, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-military-says-30-fighters-killed-offensive-al-shabab/; and “Somalia army kills 30 al-Shabab militants in fighting,” Xinhua, April 17, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/17/c_137118056.htm.