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: Al Houthi movement attacks Saudi Arabia with kamikaze drones and ballistic missiles; Hadi government forces seize city in Hajjah governorate; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with Ahmed Ali Saleh and President Hadi; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali government ends military cooperation agreement with UAE; Somali president praises former house speaker after armed standoff and resignation; Russia rumored to seek basing agreement with Somaliland; al Shabaab commander defects in Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

The al Houthi movement attacked Saudi Arabia with kamikaze drones and three ballistic missiles. Al Houthi forces fired multiple Borkan 2-H ballistic missiles targeting the Saudi defense ministry and other unidentified locations in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia on April 11. Saudi Arabia intercepted the missiles. Al Houthi forces targeted an ARAMCO facility with Qasef-1 kamikaze drones in Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia and Abha airport in Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia on April 11. Saudi Arabia destroyed one drone and downed the other, according to a Saudi-led coalition commander. ARAMCO reported that its facilities are operating normally. Al Houthi forces also launched a Badr 1 ballistic missile at Saudi-led coalition forces in Ahad al Masarihah, Jizan and a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile at the al Alab border crossing in Asir on April 10. President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad announced that al Houthi forces will launch daily ballistic missile attacks against Saudi Arabia on April 9.[1]

Hadi government forces claimed to have fully seized Midi city in Hajjah governorate, northwestern Yemen from al Houthi forces on April 10. Hadi government forces clashed with al Houthi forces in Midi city for three days before announcing control of the city, according to Hadi government sources. Midi city is four miles south of the Saudi-Yemeni border.[2] 

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with the son of the late former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Ahmed Ali Saleh, in Abu Dhabi, UAE on April 10. Griffiths and Ahmed Ali discussed the Yemen peace process and the condition of the General People’s Congress (GPC). Griffiths also met with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 11 to conclude the latest round of consultations with Yemeni stakeholders.[3]

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants between Wadi Amad and Wadi Rakhiya in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on April 11, according to local sources. Emirati-backed Hadrami Elite Forces claimed to have cleared the area around Wadi Amad of AQAP militants on February 15.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) ended a military cooperation and training agreement with the UAE on April 11. The Somali Ministry of Defense will take over the training of UAE-trained Somali forces. The immediate cause of the rift is Somali forces’ seizure of nearly $10 million from an Emirati aircraft in Mogadishu on April 8. Somali officials accused the UAE of delivering the money to support former Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari in a political tussle against Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The UAE claimed that the money was intended for the training of Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers. Diplomatic tensions between the SFG and the UAE have escalated since Farmajo’s election in February 2017 and the June 2017 Qatar crisis, in which the Farmajo administration remained neutral.[5] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said that Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari resigned “without conditions” in a joint press conference two days after Jawari stepped down on April 9. Farmajo thanked Jawari for his five decades of service to Somalia. Jawari resigned following an armed standoff between his supporters and forces deployed by President Farmajo. The standoff was part of a larger struggle between the legislative and executive branches that included an effort by parliamentarians to oust Jawari through a no-confidence motion.[6]

Unconfirmed reports state that Russian officials are pursuing an agreement to establish an air and naval base in Somaliland. Somaliland officials reportedly expect Russia to recognize Somaliland’s independence from Somalia and provide military trainers as part of the deal. The rumored location of the potential base is outside of Zeila city, near the border with Djibouti. Somaliland foreign minister Dr. Saad Ali Shire denied meeting with Russian officials and stated that Somaliland has not received an official offer from Russia on April 9.[7]

An al Shabaab commander in Bay region defected to South West State authorities on April 10 in Baidoa, southern Somalia. The militant, known as Adan Mohamed or Adan Shah, defected with another al Shabaab member. Al Shabaab defections increased after the SFG began an amnesty program in 2017.[8]

[1] “Saudi Air Force launches air raids on Saudi facilities,” Al Masirah, April 11, 2018,; “A ballistic missile targets the Saudi capital of Riyadh,” Aden Tomorrow, April 11, 2018,; Aniq018, Twitter, April 11, 2018,; “Yemen's Houthis say launched drone attack on Saudi Aramco facility,” Reuters, April 11, 2018,; “The launch of a Qaher M-2 ballistic missile on a camp in Asir,” Saba News, April 10, 2018,; “Badr 1 ballistic missile fired at a supply camp south of Jizan,” Saba News, April 10, 2018,; “Houthis say attacks targeted defence ministry in Riyadh, Al Masirah TV reports,” Reuters, April 11, 2018,; and “Command of the Joint Forces of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen: “Saudi Royal Air Force drops a hostile drone aircraft that attempted to target the Abha regional airport and the destruction of another hostile tried to attack one of the civilian objects in Jizan,” Saudi Press Agency, April 11, 2018,
[2] “The National Army regains control of the border town of Midi with Saudi Arabia,” Al Masdar, April 10, 2018,; “Teams of engineers of the National Army take dozens of mines from the city of Midi,” Saba News, April 10, 2018,; and “Watch: progress is continuous to complete the liberation of Midi and remove mines,” Al Arabiya, April 10, 2018,
[3] “UN Envoy meets Ahmed Ali in UAE,” Al Masdar, April 10, 2018,; “Griffiths concludes his tour by meeting President Hadi,” Aden Lang, April 11, 2018,; and “Martin Griffiths conlcudes latest round of consultations,” Twitter, April 11, 2018,
[4] “Saudi-led coalition launches raids on al Qaeda sites in Hadramout,” Sky News, April 11, 2018,; “Air raids targeted al Qaeda elements between two valleys of Hadramawt,” Aden Lang, April 11, 2018,; and “Warplanes launch raids on suspected al Qaeda positions,” Al Masdar, April 11, 2018,
[5] “Somalia declares end to UAE military pact as diplomatic row deepens,” Radio Dalsan, April 11, 2018,; AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Gulf of Aden Security Review, April 9, 2018,; and “Ministry of Defense to take over UAE trained soldiers,” Mostaqbal Radio, April 11, 2018,
[6] “Jawari stepped down unconditionally-President Farmajo,” Goobjoog News, April 10, 2018,
[7] “Moscow to pen military base in Somaliland,” Somaliweyn, April 10, 2018,; “Russia may build military base in Somaliland - media,” South Front, April 4, 2018,; and “Somaliland: Foreign Minister speaks on reports about Russia build military base in Zeila,” Horn Diplomat, April 9, 2018,
[8] “Al-Shabaab commander defects to Somali government,” Hiiraan, April 11, 2018,

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