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: AQAP claims agreement with tribal leaders to forego external attacks; Hadi government calls for the replacement of UN Humanitarian chief in Yemen; Saudi-led coalition spokesman claims that Egypt offered 40,000 soldiers to fight in Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh landmine kills Saudi Border Guard in Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia; reported U.S. warships shell AQAP in southern Yemen; Hadi government announces “Operation Naval Arrow” to demine western Yemeni waters; al Houthi movement supporters rally against foreign collaborators in Yemen; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim two ballistic missile strikes against Saudi military targets

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush UN World Food Programme convoy near Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants fire mortar shells at international airport in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants ambush KDF forces near Kenyan-Somali border in Lower Jubba region; suspected Kenyan warplanes strike al Shabaab positions near El Adde in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) representatives told the Norwegian publication VG that the group struck a deal with Yemeni tribal leaders to forego external attacks in exchange for “control” of some areas of Yemen. Tribal leaders struck this deal with AQAP in order to limit foreign intervention in Yemen. AQAP militants also claimed that few foreigners joined AQAP during the past five years, according to VG.[1] 

Yemeni Ambassador to the UN Khaled al Yemani formally requested the recall of UN Resident Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick on April 16. Al Yemani accused McGoldrick of engaging in political speech against the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition. Al Yemani also claimed that McGoldrick is blocking a potential investigation of the al Houthi-Saleh bloc for interfering with humanitarian aid shipments. McGoldrick opposes the planned Hadi government offensive on al Hudaydah port. Al Yemani also called for the UN Security Council to designate the al Houthi-Saleh bloc as a terrorist organization.[2]

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Major General Ahmed Asiri stated that Egypt offered to send 40,000 ground troops to Yemen when coalition operations began in March 2015. Asiri acknowledged that Egypt currently provides naval and air support to the coalition and claimed that the Saudi-led coalition did not want to use non-Yemeni ground forces at the time.[3]

A remotely detonated improvised explosive device (IED) killed one member of the Saudi Border Guard and injured three Saudi Civil Defense soldiers on April 16. Al Houthi-Saleh forces detonated the explosive near a Saudi-led coalition armored vehicle in southern Saudi Arabia, killing Corporal Aissa al Raythi. The attack occurred near al Dair village in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Jazan region. Al Houthi-Saleh media claimed that the attack killed eleven Saudi soldiers and released a photo of the explosion site, which included two damaged vehicles.[4]

Warships fired on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in southern Yemen on April 16. Local news sources claim that U.S. warships shelled AQAP positions north and west of Mudiyah city, northern Abyan governorate. The strikes did not kill any militants.[5]

Armed forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced the start of “Operation Naval Arrow” on April 16. The operation aims to remove naval mines planted by al Houthi-Saleh forces along Yemen’s western coast, starting from northwestern Hajjah governorate and proceeding southward. Hadi government sources frequently accuse Iran of supplying naval mines to al Houthi-Saleh forces.[6]

Al Houthi movement supporters in Sana’a held a rally condemning those who “collaborate” with the Saudi-led coalition and the United States. Supreme Political Council member Ahmed Hubaishi warned of a “fifth column” that intends to challenge the unity of the al Houthi-Saleh bloc from within.[7]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire two Zilzal-2 ballistic missiles at Saudi forces in Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia, on April 15. This claim is not confirmed.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a UN World Food Programme (WFP) convoy with a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) on the outskirts of Mogadishu on April 16. The attack, which occurred in the KM13 area near Mogadishu, destroyed a WFP vehicle and killed security guards, according to al Shabaab social media. WFP spokesman Amor Almagro said the explosion missed the convoy by 100 meters and did not kill any WFP workers. The WFP convoy was returning to Mogadishu from a nearby internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. Al Shabaab rejects the presence of Western and international humanitarian organizations in Somalia. Al Shabaab attacks on aid workers exacerbated the humanitarian crisis during the 2011 famine, which killed nearly 260,000 people. Current crisis conditions threaten more than six million Somalis with starvation and disease.[9] 

Al Shabaab militants fired mortar shells at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu on April 16. The attack killed at least two civilians and wounded several others. Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers confronted the al Shabaab militants during the attack, killing two militants and arresting two others. Al Shabaab frequently shells targets in Mogadishu to intimidate Somali security forces and government officials. The airport in Mogadishu is the most heavily guarded area of the capital.[10]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) convoy with a roadside IED near Hosingow village in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on April 17. The attack killed at least seven KDF soldiers and wounded several others. Hosingow village is located 20 miles from the Kenyan-Somali border. Al Shabaab frequently targets KDF forces in Somalia in an effort to pressure the Kenyan government to withdraw troops from the country.[11]

Suspected Kenyan warplanes struck al Shabaab camps near El Adde village in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on April 15. Gedo region officials confirmed that the airstrikes killed dozens of al Shabaab militants. Neither the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) nor al Shabaab commented on the attack. Incorrect reporting stated that U.S. military forces conducted the airstrike and killed more than 100 al Shabaab militants. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) refuted the claim and blamed China’s Xinhua News Agency and social media for falsely reporting U.S. involvement. The Kenyan military has increased airstrike and artillery operations targeting al Shabaab positions along the Kenyan-Somali border in recent weeks.[12]

[1] Erlend Ofte Arntsen, “Yemen's al-Qaida: Entered agreement with tribal leaders not to attack the West,” VG, April 16, 2017,
[2] “Yemen calls for changing the resident coordinator of the United Nations, accusing him of bias in favor of the Houthis,” al Masdar, April 16, 2017,; “Yemeni government demands a change in the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs,” Barakish, April 16, 2017,; “Governor of Taiz discusses humanitarian conditions with UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator,” Sabanews, April 16, 2017,; and “Yemani requests the Security Council include the coup on the terrorist list,” Aden Lange, April 16, 2017,
[3] “Asiri: Egypt offered to contribute 40 thousand troops to Yemen’s war,” al Masdar, April 17, 2017,; and “Asiri: Egypt has offered to send 40 thousand coalition troops to Yemen,” Barakish, April 16, 2017,
[4] “Ministry of the Interior Security Spokesman: border guard patrol steps on landmine, killing Corporal al Raythi and injuring three colleagues,” Twitter, April 16, 2017,; “MOI: Corporal killed in Jazan crossing as a result of a landmine,” Twitter, April 16, 2017,; and “The destruction of two armored vehicles in Jazan which killed two Saudi crews,” Sabanews, April 16, 2017,
[5] “Warship bombed the city of Mudiyah, Abyan with missiles, no news of casualties,” Aden Tomorrow, April 16, 2017,
[6] “Yemeni Forces Launch ‘Operation Naval Arrow’ to remove Houthi mines,” Al Arabiya, April 16, 2017,; and “Yemeni army announces ‘Naval Arrow’ against Iranian-Houthi mines,” Aden Tomorrow, April 17, 2017,
[7] “A rally in Sana’a denounces the fifth columnists and agents of foreign aggression,” Sabanews, April 16, 2017,
[8] “Saudi soldiers and their mercenaries killed and wounded after missile strikes in Jizan, Najran, and Asir,” Sabanews, April 15, 2017,
[9] “WFP probes IED attack on its convoy near Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, April 17, 2017,; “Shabaab Claims Bombing UN Vehicle in Mogadishu Outskirts, Killing 5 Somali Soldiers in Capital,” SITE Intelligence, April 16, 2017,; and Katherine Zimmerman, “Al Shabaab and the Challenges of Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Somalia,” Critical Threats Project, September 8, 2011,
[10] Abdi Guled, “Somalia Forces Shoot Dead 2 Militants in Attack Near Airport,” Associated Press, April 16, 2017,; and “Mortars land around Mogadishu Airport, 2 killed,” Garowe Online, April 16, 2017,
[11] “Several KDF soldiers feared dead in bomb attack near Kenyan border,” Garowe Online, April 17, 2017,; and “Shabaab Video Shows Kenyan Soldier as Prisoner, Addresses Government,” SITE Intelligence, April 2, 2017,
[12] “Kenyan warplanes bomb al Shabaab camp in Somalia,” Garowe Online, April 15, 2017,; “Air strikes kill 100 militants in southern Somalia,” Shabelle News, April 16, 2017,; and U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs, “U.S. did not conduct Somalia airstrikes,” U.S. AFRICOM, April 17, 2017,
View Citations
Arrow down red
May '17
Apr '17
Mar '17