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: Yemeni Coast Guard Director warns of al Houthi-Saleh naval mines near shipping lanes; suspected AQAP militants assassinate al Hizam commander in Shaqra, southern Abyan governorate; tribal forces kill AQAP commander in central Shabwah governorate; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. deploys dozens of ground troops to Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Director of the Yemeni Coast Guard, Major General Khaled al Kamali, warned that al Houthi-Saleh forces mined coastal areas between Zagar Island in the Red Sea and al Hudaydah governorate. Zagar Island is located between Yemen and Eritrea and lies in along vital international shipping lanes.[1] 

Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants assassinated the commander of Emirati-backed al Hizam forces in Shaqra area, southwestern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on April 13. AQAP militants killed the commander in an ambush in al Wadi’a, central Abyan. The al Hizam security force is responsible for counterterrorism efforts in Hadi government-administered territory in southern Yemen. Two al Hizam commanders in the same area resigned this month.[2]

Tribal forces reportedly killed an AQAP commander in Shabwah governorate, eastern Yemen on April 13. Tribal forces ambushed the commander in Rawdah district, central Shabwah. A conflicting report claimed that tribal forces injured the AQAP commander, who is being treated at the nearby Azzan city hospital. Shabwani tribal militias announced their intention to form an anti-AQAP coalition on March 11 in order to limit the need for U.S. airstrikes in their communities.[3]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire a Zilzal-1 ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Usaylan district, Shabwah governorate on April 13. This claim is not confirmed. Al Houthi-Saleh forces fired more ballistic missiles at Hadi government forces in April than any month since the beginning of the civil war.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

The U.S. deployed dozens of troops to Somalia to train and equip Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman Pat Barnes said on April 13 that troops from the 101st Airborne Division arrived in Mogadishu on April 2 in response to a request from the Somali Federal Government. U.S. forces seek to build the military and logistics capabilities of SNA and AMISOM forces in order to combat al Shabaab. The Obama Administration deployed a unit of fewer than 50 Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel to advise Somali and AMISOM counterterrorism forces. The newly deployed troops are the first regular ground troops deployed to Somalia since 1994, when troops withdrew after militants killed 18 U.S. servicemen during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. The Trump Administration eased restrictions on U.S. airstrikes and ground operations in Somalia on March 30.[5]

[1] “Coast Guard Director warns of naval mines near Zagar Island in the Red Sea,” Aden Lange, April 14, 2017,
[2] “Unidentified gunmen assassinated a security official in Abyan province and injured two of his companions,” al Masdar, April 14, 2017,; and “The assassination of a security official in Abyan,” Barakish, April 13, 2017,
[3] “Yemen: the death of a leader of "Al Qaeda" in a tribal ambush Shabwa province,” al Khaleej Online, April 14, 2017,; and “Injury component of al Qaeda gunmen shot dead tribesmen in Shabwa,” Aden Lang, April 13, 2017,
[4] “Zilzal-1 launched on mercenaries in Shabwah’s Usaylan district,” Sabanews, April 13, 2017,
[5] Carla Babb, “Dozens More US Troops Deployed to Somalia,” Voice of America, April 14, 2017,
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