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 fire ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport, Saudi Arabia; Tariq Saleh’s forces attack al Houthi forces in Taiz governorate; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with Acting U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.; AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Opposition leader calls for resignation of Somaliland president; SNA and AMISOM forces continue offensive against al Shabaab in central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting Jizan Regional Airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 20. Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki stated that Saudi air defenses intercepted the ballistic missile. Al Houthi forces previously targeted Jizan Regional Airport with a Badr 1 ballistic missile two days ago on April 18. The al Houthi movement pledged to launch daily ballistic missile strikes against Saudi Arabia on April 10.[1]

National Resistance Forces led by Tariq Saleh, nephew of the late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, attacked al Houthi forces for the first time near Khalid bin al Walid military camp in Mokha district, Taiz governorate on April 19. The Saudi-led coalition facilitated Tariq Saleh’s efforts to establish and command the National Resistance Forces in March. Republican Guard forces, previously loyal to former President Saleh, and Hadi government paramilitary Central Security Forces also fought against the al Houthi forces. Emirati Apache helicopters supported the anti-al Houthi forces. Khalid bin al Walid military camp is located next to Mokha junction, a major crossroad that connects al Hudaydah port and Taiz city. The Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government are conducting an offensive to advance northward along Yemen’s western coast to seize al Hudaydah port from the al Houthi movement. President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Saleh al Samad urged the people of al Hudaydah to support al Houthi forces as anti-al Houthi forces prepare to take al Hudaydah port on April 19. Samad met with al Houthi local authorities of al Hudaydah city.[2] 

Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in Washington, D.C. on April 19. Sullivan and Griffiths discussed the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the delivery of aid to Yemeni civilians. Sullivan expressed his support for a comprehensive political agreement.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants assassinated al Houthi leader Abu Azizah in the cultural quarter of al Bayda city, southern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 18, according to an official AQAP media channel. AQAP militants also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting al Houthi forces in al Wathba area near Rada’ city, northwestern al Bayda on April 18, according to an official AQAP media channel.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somaliland opposition party leader Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro called for President Muse Bihi Abdi to resign on April 19. Irro accused Abdi of lying about the details of a deal allowing the UAE to access Somaliland’s Berbera port. Emirati Minister for Foreign Affairs claimed on April 18 that the Somali Federal Government (SFG) agreed to the port deal under former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Somaliland, Emirati port operator DP World, and Ethiopia later signed an agreement that divided ownership of the Berbera port between the three countries on March 1, 2018. The SFG rejected the deal, claiming it violated Somalia’s sovereignty. The UAE and Somaliland also signed a separate agreement to establish an Emirati military base in Berbera, Somaliland, northwestern Somalia in February 2017.[5] 

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces began operations intended to regain control of important highways from al Shabaab in central Somalia. SNA and AMISOM forces began operations to retake the road connecting Jowhar and Bal’ad towns in Middle Shabelle region on April 19. SNA-AMISOM forces also conducted a security operation targeting al Shabaab militants in Mudug region, north-central Somalia on April 20. Al Shabaab regularly targets security forces in central Somalia, where militants maintain support zones.[6]

[1] “Badr 1 Ballistic missile launched on Jizan Regional Airport,” Saba, April 20, 2018,; “For the second time in 48 hours, Badr 1 ballistic missile bombs Jizan regional airport,” Al Masirah, April 20, 2018,; and “Joint Forces Command of the Coalition: Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts and Destroys Ballistic Missile Launched by Iranian Houthi Militia at Saudi Arabia,” SPA, April 20, 2018,
[2] Ahmed Al-Haj, “At least 25 killed in battle for southwest Yemeni province,” AP, April 19, 2018,; “Al Houthi militia asks the people of Hodeidah for their support,” Aden Lang, April 20, 2018,; “Nephew of former Yemeni president leads clashes against Houthi forces,” Reuters, April 19, 2018,; “Urgent: Tariq Saleh's first military move in Taiz begins,” Yemen Saeed, April 19, 2018,; and “Killed and wounded dozens and the destruction of three armored vehicles broke the march of mercenaries in Taiz,” Saba News, April 19, 2018,
[3] “Acting Secretary Sullivan's Meeting With UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths,” U.S. Department of State, April 19, 2018,; “Sullivan meets with Martin Griffiths to discuss Yemen,” Kuwaiti News,
April 20, 2018,; and “UN’s new Yemen envoy holds talks in Washington” The National, April 19, 2018,
[4] “AQAP claimed assassination of al Houthi leader Abu Azizah in the cultural quarter of al Bayda city, Telegram, April 20, 2018; and “AQAP militants claim IED attack on al Houthi forces in al Wathba area, al Bayda,” Telegram, April 20, 2018. 
[5] “Somaliland Opposition Leader Irro Demands President Bihi Resignation For “Lying” Over Berbera Port Deal,” Radio Dalsan, April 19, 2018,; “Waddani’s Irro calls for resignation of Bihi, prosecution of Silanyo for ‘betrayal’,” Goobjoog, April 19, 2018,; and “ UAE says previous Somali gov't signed off on Berbera deal,” Hiiraan Online, April 19, 2018,
[6] “Galmudug Forces Conduct Security Operation In Mudug Area, Somalia; Several Al Shabaab Arrested,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 20, 2018,; and “SNA Forces Launch Operations to Secure Jowhar-Bal’ad Road,” Halbeeg, April 19, 2018,

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