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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: Al Houthis claim to launch attacks on Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament votes to hold direct presidential elections by 2023; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM base in Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab attacks AMISOM and SNA troops in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab targets Bay region’s governor in suicide attack; SNA announces anti–al Shabaab operation in Galgudud region

Yemen Security Brief:

The al Houthi movement claimed to launch a large-scale attack targeting Saudi Arabia on April 12. The militants claimed to target Saudi Aramco oil refineries with 10 Samad-3 drones in Jeddah and Jubail cities located in the kingdom’s Hejaz and Eastern regions, respectively. Saudi Arabia has not yet confirmed the attack. The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept several al Houthi drones targeting Khamis Mushait and Jizan, respectively located in the kingdom’s southwestern Asir and Jizan regions on April 11.[i]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed along the Jabal Murad front of central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on April 10. The Saudi-led coalition reportedly launched airstrikes on Sirwah and Madghal districts of Ma’rib governorate the same day.[ii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament voted on April 12 to hold direct presidential elections by 2023 and to extend the term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” until the elections. President Farmajo’s presidential mandate expired on February 8, when the Somali Federal Government failed to hold presidential elections.[iii]

Al Shabaab attacked a Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Burane area, near Mahaday town in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on April 12. Al Shabaab attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base near Mahaday town on April 8.[iv]

Al Shabaab attacked a Kenyan AMISOM base in Kismayo city in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on April 12. Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device targeting SNA troops in Afmadow in Lower Jubba region the same day.[v]

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest in Baidoa, the capital of southern Somalia’s Bay region, targeting the Bay region’s governor on April 10. Al Shabaab attacked a government checkpoint in Baidoa on April 3.[vi]

The SNA announced that its 21st division launched an operation targeting al Shabaab strongholds in central Somalia’s Galgudud region on April 9. Al Shabaab claimed ambushing a vehicle and killing the commander of the 21st division in Galgudud’s Dhusamareb city on April 3.[vii]


[i] “The Houthi terrorist group announces massive attacks on Saudi Arabia,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, April 12, 2021, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/200453.

[ii] “15 Houthis were killed by army fire in the southern outskirts of Marib,” 26Sep News, April 10, 2021, https://www.26sepnews.net/2021/04/10/1-7792/; and “Aggression’s aviation launches nine raids on Marib and al Jawf,” Saba News, April 10, 2021, https://www.saba.ye/ar/news3136132.htm.

[iii] Hassan Barise, “Somalia's parliament votes to extend president's mandate,” ABC News, April 12, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/somalias-parliament-votes-extend-presidents-mandate-77021308; and “Somalia Lower House extends Farmajo's term amid pre-election stalemate,” Garowe, April 12, 2021, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-lower-house-extends-farmajo-s-term-amid-pre-election-stalemate.

[iv] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Attack on soldiers killed in Balad district and other news,” Somalimemo, April 12, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14511/Weerar-Askar-lagu-dilay-oo-ka-dhacay-degmada-Balcad-iyo-Warar-kale;  and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 9, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 9, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-9-2021.

[v] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Attack on soldiers killed in Balad district and other news,” Somalimemo, April 12, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14511/Weerar-Askar-lagu-dilay-oo-ka-dhacay-degmada-Balcad-iyo-Warar-kale; and Liibaan Jeexoow, “Explosion in Afmadow district causes heavy casualties,” Somalimemo, April 12, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14514/Qarax-Khasaara-badan-dhaliyay-oo-ka-dhacay-degmada-Afmadoow.

[vi] “Shabaab Claims Assassination Attempt via Suicide Bombing on Bay Regional Governor,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 10, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; “Several dead as suicide bombing targets Somali regional governor,” Al Jazeera, April 10, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/10/somalia-suicide-bomber-targets-bay-region-governor-3-killed; and Liibaan Jeexoow, “Soldiers killed in Baidoa and an envoy targeted in Belet Xaawo district,” Somalimemo, April 3, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14474/Askar-lagu-dilay-Baydhabo-iyo-Ergay-lagu-beegsaday-degmada-Beled-Xaawo.

[vii] “Somali army launches operation on al-Shabab strongholds,” Xinhua News, April 9, 2021, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2021-04/09/c_139869450.htm; and Liibaan Jeexoow, “Attack kills senior officer on outskirts of Dhusamareb, Somalimemo, April 3, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14475/Weerar-Sarkaal-sare-lagu-dilay-oo-ka-dhacay-duleedka-Dhuusamareeb.

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Yemen: AQAP formally denies UN claim of  AQAP leader’s arrest; Saudi-led coalition claims to intercept al Houthi explosive-laden drones targeting Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti­–al Houthi forces clash in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks SNA base in Middle Shabelle region; SNA arrests al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; SFG blames Jubbaland and Puntland State leaders for failed electoral negotiations in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) formally denied on April 8 the UN’s claim that security forces arrested AQAP’s leader Khaled Batarfi in eastern Yemen’s Mahrah governorate in October 2020. AQAP also denied the death of high-ranking AQAP official Sa’ad Atef al Awlaki. The group claimed the UN’s claim intended to affect AQAP fighters psychologically.[i]

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept an al Houthi Qasef-2K drone targeting Jizan airport in southern Saudi Arabia’s Asir region on April 9. The coalition previously claimed to intercept an al Houthi explosive-laden drone targeting Khamis Mushait city in the kingdom’s Asir region on April 8.[ii]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed along the al Kassara and al Masjah fronts in central Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on April 8. Al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi ordered al Houthi militants from Sa’ada, Amran, Dhamar, and Ibb governorates to reinforce fighters in Ma’rib governorate the same day.[iii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base in the Burane area, less than two miles from Mahaday town in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, on April 8. Militants detonated an improvised explosive device before exchanging gunfire with SNA troops. Al Shabaab attacked a Burundian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base in Mahaday town on April 1.[iv]

The SNA arrested al Shabaab militants and seized their weapons in Mubarak village in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on April 8. Al Shabaab attacked two SNA bases in Lower Shabelle region on April 3.[v]

The Somali Minister of Information announced that the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and Somali member states failed to reach an agreement on how to proceed with federal presidential elections following a meeting in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on April 7. The minister blamed Jubbaland and Puntland State Presidents for inhibiting the process and claimed they “dishonored” the forum. The Puntland and Jubbaland State leaders insisted that they were unaware the negotiations failed and said they were committed to holding elections.[vi]


[i] “AQAP formally denies UN report on arrest of Batarfi, killing of high-ranking commander,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 8, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Amelia Frederking and Lauren Detter, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 5, 20210,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-5-2021/.

[ii] “Yemeni forces conduct another retaliatory drone attack on Saudi airbases,” Tasnim News Agency, April 9, 2021, https://tn.ai/2481507; and “Saudi Arabia intercepts an IED drone launched by the Houthis towards an air base in the south of the kingdom,” Al Jazeera, April 8, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2021/4/8/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%aa%d8%ad%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%81-%d9%8a%d8%b9%d8%aa%d8%b1%d8%b6-%d9%85%d9%8f%d8%b3%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d8%ad%d9%88%d8%ab%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%85%d9%81%d8%ae%d8%ae%d8%a9.

[iii] “Violent battles, the army thwarts an attack by the Houthi militia on al Mashjah and al Kassara fronts west of Marib,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, April 8, 2021 https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/200075; and “The Houthis are mobilizing more of their elements to continue the pressure on Marib,” Aden Lang, April 8, 2021, http://adnlng.info/news/167884/

[iv] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Deadly attack in Burane area,” Somalimemo, April 8, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14497/Weerar-Khasaara-dhaliyay-oo-ka-dhacay-deegaanka-Buurane; “Al-Shabaab attack Mahaday district in Middle Shabelle region,” Hiiraan, April 8, 2021, https://www.hiiraan.com/news/2021/Apr/wararka_maanta8-177236.htm?utm_source=hiiraan&utm_medium=WararkaMaantaFront; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 2, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 2, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-2-2021.

[v] “Somali National Army conducts operation in Lower Shabelle region,” Radio Dalsan, April 9, 2021,  https://www.radiodalsan.com/ciidanka-xoogga-dalka-oo-howlgal-ka-fuliyay-gobolka-shabeellaha-hoose/; “Somali army launches operation on al-Shabab strongholds, Xinhua, April 9, 2021,  http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2021-04/09/c_139869450.htm; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 5, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-5-2021.

[vi] “Somali leaders yet again fail to agree on terms of electoral talks,” Hiiraan, April 7, 2021, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Apr/182221/somali_leaders_yet_again_fail_to_agree_on_terms_of_electoral_talks.aspx?utm_source=hiiraan&utm_medium=SomaliNewsUpdateFront; “We’re not aware of failed poll talks, Deni, Madobe respond,” Goobjoog, April 8, 2021, https://goobjoog.com/english/were-not-aware-of-failed-poll-talks-deni-madobe-respond/; and “International community puts pressure on FGS and FMS leaders to resolve electoral dispute,” Mustaqbal Radio, April 8, 2021, https://www.mustaqbalradio.net/international-community-puts-pressure-on-fgs-and-fms-leaders-to-resolve-electoral-dispute/.

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Yemen: AQAP claims attack on Emirati forces in Shabwah governorate; al Houthis claim drone attack targeting Saudi Arabia; al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clash in Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attacks Ethiopian troops in Bakool region; al Shabaab publishes footage from attack in Lower Shabelle region; SFG and federal member states discuss presidential elections in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed a rocket attack on the headquarters belonging to Emirati forces in southern Yemen’s Shabwah governorate on April 4. AQAP previously attacked UAE-backed security forces in southern Yemen’s Abyan governorate in mid-March.[i]

The al Houthi movement claimed launching two Qasef-2K drones toward King Khalid airbase in Khamis Mushait city in southern Saudi Arabia on April 6. The Saudi-led coalition previously claimed to intercept two al Houthi explosive-laden drones targeting Khamis Mushait city on April 2.[ii]

Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces clashed along the al Akhum front of Haifan district in southwestern Yemen’s Taiz governorate on April 7. Al Houthi and anti–al Houthi forces previously clashed along al Akhum front in Taiz governorate in late March.[iii]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab militants clashed with Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces near a military base in Hudur district in central Somalia’s Bakool region on April 6. Al Shabaab attacked an Ethiopian AMISOM military base in Hudur district in early March.[iv]

Al Shabaab published footage from its attack on a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Barire in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on April 3. The photos depicted militants setting military vehicles and buildings on fire. They also showed the bodies of SNA soldiers. Somalia’s Prime Minister visited wounded SNA troops following the attack.[v] 

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) held a preliminary meeting with Somali state presidents in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on April 7 to set an agenda for federal presidential elections. The SFG and state presidents failed to agree on an agenda during a meeting in Mogadishu on April 3.[vi]


[i] “AQAP Claims Rocket Strike on HQ of Emirati Forces in Shabwa,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 6, 2021, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 31, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 31, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-31-2021.

[ii] “Yemen Carries Out New Drone Strike on Saudi Airbase,” Tasnim News Agency, April 7, 2021, https://tn.ai/2480424; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 2, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 2, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-2-2021.

[iii] “The Army advanced in the al Akhum front, south of Taiz,” 26Sep News, April 7, 2021, https://www.26sepnews.net/2021/04/06/6666-4/; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 24, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 24, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-24-2021.

[iv] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Damaged attacks in Hudur and Baidoa,” Somalimemo, April 7, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14492/Weeraro-khasaara-dhaliyay-oo-ka-dhacay-Xudur-iyo-Baydhabo; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 3, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 3, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-3-2021.

[v] Liibaan Jeexoow, “Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, have claimed responsibility for a series of grenade attacks in the capital, Mogadishu,” Somalimemo, April 5, 2021, https://somalimemo.info/articles/14488/Alkataaib-oo-baahisay-Sawirrada-weerarkii-lagu-xasuuqay-maleeshiyaatka-dowladda-ee-deegaanka-Bariire-DAAWO; “Prime minister Roble visits wounded soldiers in Lower Shabelle,” Mustaqbal Radio, April 6, 2021, https://www.mustaqbalradio.net/prime-minister-roble-visits-wounded-soldiers-in-lower-shabelle/; “Prime Minister Roble visits wounded soldiers in Barire Awdheegle battle,” Horseed Media, April 6, 2021, https://horseedmedia.net/2021/04/06/raysal-wasaare-rooble-oo-booqday-askartii-ku-dhawaacantay-dagaalkii-bariire-awdheegle/; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 5, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-5-2021.  

[vi] “New round of initial poll talks resume in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, April 7, 2021, https://goobjoog.com/english/new-round-of-initial-poll-talks-resume-in-mogadishu/; “FGS-FMS consultative talks resume in Mogadishu,” Hiiraan, April 7, 2021, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2021/Apr/182220/fgs_fms_consultative_talks_resume_in_mogadishu.aspx; and Lauren Detter and Amelia Frederking, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 5, 2021,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 5, 2021, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-5-2021.

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