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: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister meets with President Hadi in Saudi Arabia; al Houthi movement leader pledges to continue developing military capabilities; eighteen AQAP prisoners escape from al Houthi-run prison in al Bayda governorate; AQAP claims attack on Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: UAE disbands training and funding program for SNA; AMISOM evaluates transition from Somalia; al Shabaab commander defects in Bulo Hawo, Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief

The Russian Special Envoy to the Middle East Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and his delegation met with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi during the 29th Arab summit in Dhahran city, eastern Saudi Arabia on April 14. Bogdanov expressed Russia’s willingness to facilitate Yemen’s security and stability.[1]

Al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi pledged that the al Houthi movement would continue developing its military capabilities as its attacks escalate against the Saudi-led coalition during an April 13 announcement. The al Houthi movement launched a Badr 1 short-range missile targeting al Faisal military city in Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 13 in its most recent attack. Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces claimed to intercept and destroy the missile.[2]

Eighteen al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants escaped from an al Houthi-run prison in al Bayda city, southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 11, according to an official AQAP media channel. Anti-Houthi sources alleged that the al Houthi movement released the AQAP prisoners in order to undermine security in the region. AQAP frequently attacks al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate. AQAP militants ambushed al Houthi forces in al Quraishiyah district, northwestern al Bayda governorate on April 14.[3]

AQAP militants attacked the headquarters of Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces with small arms in al Wade’a district, eastern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on April 14, according to an official AQAP media channel. AQAP militants last attacked al Hizam Security Forces in al Wade’a on March 29.[4] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The UAE disbanded its military training program in Somalia on April 15 following several months of escalating tensions with the Somali Federal Government (SFG). The SFG began talks with the Emirati government on April 16, stressing the importance of their partnership for Somali stabilization efforts. The SFG announced it would take over training and payment initiatives for the Somali National Army (SNA) on April 11 after seizing about $9.6 million from a private Emirati jet at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu on April 8. Some Somali officials claimed that the money was meant to prevent a no-confidence vote against the Speaker of the Lower House amid a power struggle between the Somali legislative and executive branches. Emirati authorities asserted the money was intended to pay the salaries of SNA soldiers. Tensions between the SFG and UAE have worsened since the SFG remained neutral in the Gulf crisis between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. The UAE has helped train and fund the SNA since 2014.[5] 

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) officials met to discuss its transition plan in Somalia on April 14. The Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) called on AMISOM military commanders to implement the transition plan for gradual troop reduction on April 14. AMISOM officials said AMISOM will withdraw about 1,000 troops from Somalia by October 2018. The DSRCC, however, emphasized that the force would reorganize its forward operating bases to ensure security during the transition process. Leaders from AMISOM’s troop contributing countries (TCCs) called on the UN Security Council to extend AMISOM’s mandate in March 2018. AMISOM is scheduled to withdraw all forces from Somalia in 2020.[6]

A senior al Shabaab commander defected to Gedo region authorities in Bulo Hawo town, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia on April 14. The al Shabaab commander, Abdihakim Hussein Yusuf, was an al Shabaab member for four years and collected taxes for the group in the region. Somali authorities gave a $15,000 reward to a former al Shabaab bomb maker who defected in Baidoa, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on April 12. Al Shabaab defections have increased since the SFG announced an amnesty program for defectors in 2017.[7]



[1] “Russia’s Mideast envoy confirms Moscow’s readiness for any role serving peace in Yemen,” Arab News, April 16, 2018,; and “The President of the Republic meets with the Russian President’s Special Envoy to the Middle East,” Saba New, April 14, 2018,
[2] “Air Defense Forces Destroy Ballistic Missile Fired by Al-Houthi Militia towards Saudi Arabia, Coalition Command Announces,” Saudi Press Agency, April 13, 2018,; and “Al Houthi forces launch Badr 1 missile in al Faisal military city,” al Masirah, April 13, 2018,; “Houthi leader says group developing its military capabilities,” Reuters, April 13, 2018,; “Leader of the Revolution: Our military capabilities are evolving and the enemy must be aware of this,” Al Masirah, April 13, 2018,; and “The launch of a ballistic missile on the city of Faisal military in Jizan,” Saba, April 13, 2018,
[3] “AQAP reports 18 fighters escaping from prison in al Bayda, claims attacks on Houthis and SBF,” SITE Intel Group, April 15, 2018,; and “18 AQAP militants escape from prison in al Bayda,” Telegram, April 15, 2018; “Al Houthi militia releases 18 al Qaeda prisoners in al Bayda,” Aden Time, April 16, 2018,; and “AQAP claims ambush of al Houthi forces in al Quraishiyah district, al Bayda,” Telegram, April 14, 2018. 
[4] “AQAP storms al Hizam Security Forces headquarters in al Wade’a district, al Bayda governorate,” Telegram, April 15, 2018; and “Al Qaeda attack on Hizam Security Forces’ base in Wade’a, Abyan,” 7adramaut, April 14, 2018,
[5] “UAE ends programme to train Somalia's military,” Reuters, April 15, 2018,; “UAE disbands training mission in Somalia,” Emirates News Agency, April 15, 2018,; “Somalia Holds Talks with The Government of UAE on Diplomatic Tensions,” Halbeeg, April 16, 2018,; “Somalia Softens Stance On UAE After Gulf State Disbands Military Training & Funding,” Radio Dalsan, April 16, 2018,; “Somalia says will work with UAE as Gulf nation halts military support,” Hiiraan Online, April 16, 2018,; and AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Gulf of Aden Security Review, April 9, 2018,
[6] “AMISOM commanders urged to implement the Mission’s transition plan,” Radio Shabelle, April 14, 2018,; “AU senior commanders agree to pacify Somalia amid transition plan,” Xinhua, April 15, 2018,; “AMISOM Deputy Head urges military commanders to implement the Mission’s transition plan,” AMISOM, April 14, 2018,; “AMISOM evaluates its transition plan for Somalia,” April 14, 2018,; and AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Gulf of Aden Security Review, March 5, 2018,
[7] “Senior al-Shabab commander defects to Somali government,” Xinhua, April 14, 2018,; “Senior Shabaab commander defects to government in Gedo region,” Goobjoog, April 14, 2018,; and “Senior Al-Shabaab Commander, Abdihakim Hussein Yusuf Defects to Government in Gedo Region,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 15, 2018,

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