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: World Bank and several nations pledge aid to Yemen; Saudi king issues decrees on key positions and military salaries; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed forces in Hadramawt governorate; ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt publicizes training camp; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen

Horn of Africa: KDF warplanes strike al Shabaab camps near El Adde town, Gedo region; U.S. AFRICOM commander asserts no change in U.S. strategy in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The World Bank agreed to provide $816 million in emergency aid to Yemen on April 25. It will allocate $500 million to support food imports, $200 million for cash payments to Yemen’s poor, $80 million to medical and nutritional programs, and $36 million to agricultural development. Several nations also pledged aid to Yemen at a conference hosted by the UN, Sweden, and Switzerland in Geneva on April 25. The pledges include: $178 million from the UK, $150 million from Saudi Arabia, $100 million from Kuwait, $100 million from the UAE, $94 million from the U.S., $60 million from China, $54.4 million from Germany, and $10 million from Australia. The World Food Programme committed $1 billion to food aid in Yemen in March, but claims that it only reached 5 million of the 9 million Yemenis classified as “severely food insecure.” The pledges are a response to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs statement from April 24 that Yemen had only received 15% of the $2.1 billion in aid it needed to combat what it calls “the largest food insecurity emergency in the world.” Al Houthi-Saleh Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf sent a letter to the Geneva conference calling on the Saudi-led coalition to cease waging “economic war” by blockading Yemen’s Red Sea coast.[1]

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz promoted Saudi-led coalition spokesman Major General Ahmed al Asiri to Deputy Head of Intelligence in Saudi Arabia as part of a series of royal decrees on April 23. King Salman also appointed his son, Prince Khaled bin Salman, as Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States. Bin Salman is an American-trained Saudi Royal Air Force pilot with bombing experience in Yemen and in the international coalition against ISIS. The move likely indicates Saudi Arabia’s desire for closer military ties with the U.S. in Yemen. King Salman also ordered that Saudi military personnel in Yemen will receive a two-month salary bonus.[2] 

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on April 23. AQAP militants killed two Hadhrami Elite troops in an ambush in Dawan district, central Hadramawt governorate. Residents of al Mukalla city, Hadramawt, celebrated the one year anniversary of the city’s liberation from AQAP on April 24.[3]

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Hadramawt released photos of militants cleaning rifles on April 25. ISIS’s weekly al Naba magazine claimed on April 14 that ISIS operates three camps in Yemen, including one used for small arms training in Hadramawt governorate. ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt has not claimed an attack since June 2016.[4]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire a “Zilzal-2” ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in Camp al Jara’ub in al Matoun district, northern al Jawf governorate on April 24. This attack is not confirmed.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) warplanes struck al Shabaab camps near El Adde town in Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on April 24. The KDF airstrike targeted camps in the Wargadud area, about 25 miles west of El Adde. The attack killed several al Shabaab militants. The KDF conducted a similar airstrike on al Shabaab positions near El Adde on April 15. The Kenyan military has increased operations against al Shabaab in areas along the Kenyan-Somali border in recent months.[6] 

General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), reaffirmed the need for the Somali National Army (SNA) to assume security responsibilities. General Waldhauser held a conference call with African Union and AFRICOM leaders in Stuttgart, Germany to discuss security in Somalia. Waldhauser said that the April 2 deployment of 40 U.S. 101st Airborne Division ground troops to Somalia does not signal a change in U.S. strategy. AFRICOM conducts training and logistical support missions for SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces to improve military operations against al Shabaab. U.S. and international partners aim to train 28,000 SNA soldiers and ensure independent security forces can secure Somalia by 2021.[7]

[1] “The World Bank provides Yemen with $816 million to strengthen its emergency response and support the poorest,” al Masdar, April 25, 2017,; Stephanie Nebehay, “UN seeks to avert famine in Yemen, where a child dies every 10 minutes,” Reuters, April 25, 2017,; “Foreign Minister calls for donors conference to work to stop the economic war on Yemen,” Sabanews, April 25, 2017,; “Most notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait provide humanitarian aid at Geneva conference,” Aden Tomorrow, April 25, 2017,; and “Yemen: We must act now to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” OCHA, April 24, 2017,
[2] “Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announces new royal decrees,” al Arabiya, April 22, 2017,; Ismaeel Naar, “Who is Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to the U.S.?” al Arabiya, April 23, 2017,; and Bruce Riedel, “Will Riyadh’s new DC ambassador draw U.S. deeper into Yemen war?” al Monitor, April 24, 2017,
[3] AQAP claims its militants ambushed Hadhrami Elite Forces in Dawan, Hadramawt, Telegram, April 23, 2017; and “Yemen’s Hadramout celebrates first anniversary of liberation from al-Qaeda,” al Arabiya, April 24, 2017,
[4] Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, April 25, 2017,
[5] “Rocket and artillery fire targets mercenary communities in al Matoun, al Jawf,” Sabanews, April 24, 2017,
[6] “KDF launches airstrikes against militants in Gedo,” Shabelle News, April 25, 2017,; and “KDF bombs al Shabaab bases in Gedo region,” Garowe Online, April 25, 2017,
[7] Salem Solomon, “US Offers Training as Somalia Fights for Security,” Voice of America, April 24, 2017,
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