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 forces claim to down U.S. drone in al Hudaydah governorate; AQAP blames Emirati and Emirati-backed forces for imam assassinations in southern Yemen; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Prime Minister appoints new cabinet; SNA and AMISOM forces recapture five villages from al Shabaab militants in Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces claimed to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in al Hudaydah governorate, western Yemen on April 18. The al Houthi movement shot down a MQ-9 Reaper drone near Sana’a city, northern Yemen on October 1, 2017.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed the UAE and Emirati-backed forces are responsible for a string of imam assassinations in southern Yemen in its second issue of Madab bulletin published on April 18. The bulletin also called for Yemeni southerners to rebel against the UAE. Militants have assassinated at least 25 imams in Aden and southern Yemen since 2016. No group has claimed responsibility for the imam  assassinations.[2]

Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport, Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 18. The Saudi-led coalition has not confirmed the al Houthi missile launch. The al Houthi movement has launched six ballistic missiles targeting Jizan region since April 1.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a new 16-member cabinet on April 19. Prime Minister Abiy appointed ten new ministers and reshuffled six ministers from the cabinet of his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn. Abiy appointed Motuma Mekassa as the Ethiopian defense minister. Abiy and Mekassa are members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which is the party in the ruling coalition that represents the largest ethnic population in Ethiopia. Ahmed promised to address the grievances of ethnic communities, like the Oromo and Amharic groups, that have protested against political and economic marginalization. Ahmed is Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister.[4]

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured five villages from al Shabaab militants in Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on April 18. A SNA commander stated that security forces captured Qoordhere, Qorah Madobe, Waraxley, War Cise, and Qab Duco villages from al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab withdrew from the villages before ambushing SNA forces in a village between Jowhar and Bal’ad in Middle Shabelle region. Al Shabaab frequently targets security forces in central Somalia to restrict access to the roads and maintain support  zones.[5]


[1] “Air defenses bring down MQ-9 aircraft in Hudaydah,” Saba, April 18, 2018,; “Yemeni forces shoot down a US MQ 9 aircraft in Hudaydah,” Al Mayadeen, April 18, 2018,; and “Houthis claim to bring down US drone aircraft in al Hudaydah,” Aden Lang, April 19, 2018,
[2] “AQAP Charges UAE-Backed Forces with Assassinating Scholars in 2nd Issue of Madad Bulletin,” SITE, April 18, 2018,
[3] “Badr 1 ballistic missile targets Jizan airport,” Saba, April 18, 2018,; and “Missile force targets Jizan airport with a ballistic missile,” Al Masirah, April 18, 2018,
[4] “Ethiopia's new premier reshuffles cabinet as part of reform bid,” Reuters, April 19, 2018,; “Ethiopian Premier Puts Ally in Defense to Address Insecurity,” Bloomberg, April 19, 2018,; “Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed names cabinet,” Al Jazeera, April 19, 2018,; “Ethiopia parliament ratifies PM Abiy's first cabinet,” Africa News, April 19, 2018,; and “News: PM Abiy Ahmed forms his new cabinet; Parliament elects new speaker,” Addis Standard, April 19, 2018,
[5] “Somali forces recover 5 villages in southern Somalia,” Xinhua, April 18, 2018,; “Somali forces capture 5 villages in Middle Shabelle region,” Goobjoog, April 18, 2018,; and “Five Somali soldiers killed in Al-Shabaab ambush in Middle Shabelle region,” Goobjoog, April 18, 2018,;

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