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: Saudi-led coalition airstrike kills al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad; al Houthi forces launch Qaher 2-M ballistic missile targeting al Mokha city, Taiz governorate; Hadi government prime minister arrives in Hadramawt governorate to commemorate anniversary of expulsion of AQAP

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab emir calls on foreign fighters to go to Syria; Somali Defense Minister resigns to run for Lower House speakership; al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM forces near Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad in al Hudaydah city on Yemen’s Red Sea coast on April 19. Al Samad had been meeting with local leaders to urge them to support al Houthi forces in al Hudaydah governorate. The coalition airstrike also killed Al Houthi Deputy Chief of Staff General Ali al Moushaki and al Houthi arms dealer Fares Mana’a, according to non-Houthi sources. The al Houthi movement announced al Samad’s death and appointed al Houthi Chief of Staff Mahdi Mohammed Hussein al Mashat as President of the Supreme Political Council on April 23. Al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi pledged that al Samad’s death will not go unanswered.[1]

Al Houthi forces launched a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile targeting al Mokha city, Taiz governorate on Yemen’s Red Sea coast on April 24. The Saudi-led coalition has not yet confirmed the al Houthi ballistic missile launch.[2]

Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir arrived in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on April 23 to commemorate the second anniversary of the expulsion of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from the city and to launch multiple public works projects. Bin Daghir returned to Yemen on April 12 after an extended stay in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for about three months.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar urged foreign fighters to go to Syria in a speech released on April 23. Umar encouraged jihadists to unite in the Levant and to expand the jihad beyond the borders of Syria. Umar also explicitly targeted Turkish Muslims, stating that they must join militants in Syria and oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s secular government. He also warned against accepting political negotiations.[4]

The Somali Minister of Defense resigned to run for the Lower House speakership on April 24. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire appointed Defense Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman on November 25, 2017. Other candidates included the Trade and Industry Minister, Water and Energy Minister, and Deputy Interior Minister. Former Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari resigned on April 9 after a weeks-long power struggle with the Farmajo administration. The election of the new speaker is scheduled for April 30.[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Elasha Biyaha area near Mogadishu, central Somalia on April 24. Al Shabaab militants targeted Burundian AMISOM forces with grenades and gunfire. Al Shabaab frequently targets regional and Somali security forces in the capital.[6]

[1] “The Supreme Political Council condemns the martyrdom of the President of the Nation and chooses the Mashat as president for the next session,” Saba News, April 23, 2018,; “Al Houthi militia recognizes the killing of Saleh al Samad, president of the Yemeni coup council,” Twasul, April 23, 2018,; “Killing of the al Houthi leader Saleh al Samad,” Aden Tomorrow, April 23, 2018,; and “Mahdi al Mashat, the successor of al Samad, brother-in-law of al Houthi and a student of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” Erem News, April 23, 2018,; “The leader of the revolution deplores the President's insistence that this crime will not pass without accountability,” Saba News, April 23, 2018,; and “Learn about the military leaders who were killed with al Samad in al Hudaydah,” Mareb Press, April 24, 2018,
[2] “Qaher 2-M ballistic missile targeted group of mercenaries in al Mokha,” Saba, April 24, 2018,; and “Qaher 2-M missile targets concentrations of mercenaries in al Mokha,” 26 September, April 24, 2018,
[3] “Prime Minister arrives in Mukalla in an inspection visit to the province of Hadramout and launching a number of projects,” Saba New, April 24, 2018,; and “Hadramawt celebrates the anniversary of liberation from ‘terrorism.’ The presence of Ben Daghir is controversial,” Aden Tomorrow, April 24, 2018,
[4] “Shabaab Leader Promotes Syrian Jihad As Open To Foreign Fighters, Vilifies Turkish Role in Country,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 23, 2018, available by subscription at; Al Shabaab releases speech by Ahmad Umar, Telegram, April 23, 2018; and “Al-Shabaab Leader, Abu Ubeydah Ahmad Umar Speaks on Raging Jihadi Infighting in Northern Syria,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 24, 2018,
[5] “Minister Mursal Resigns From Defence Docket To Join Speaker Race,” Radio Dalsan, April 24, 2018,; “Defense minister Mursal quits barely 6 months in to contest Speaker seat,” Goobjoog, April 24, 2018,; and “Defense Minister quits; joins the race for Lower House Speaker,” Hiiraan Online, April 24, 2018,
[6] “Al-Shabaab launches attack on AU peacekeepers’ base near Mogadishu,” April 24, 2018,, and Al Shabaab atttacks AMISOM forces near Mogadishu, Telegram, April 24, 2018.

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