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: Hadi government begins operation to secure Taiz city; al Houthi House of Representatives swears in Mahdi al Mashat as new Supreme Political Council President in Sana’a city; AQAP attacks al Houthi forces in western al Bayda governorate; UN Special Envoy meets with Yemeni President in Riyadh

Horn of Africa: Somali police arrest ISIS militant in Mogadishu; Shabelle river floods displace thousands in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; al Shabaab militants attack security forces in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Hadi government forces began an operation to seize parts of Taiz city under control of militias and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to local sources. Hadi government forces killed local AQAP leader Abu Khalid al Sana’ani during clashes between AQAP militants and Hadi government forces in Taiz city, northeastern Taiz governorate in southern Yemen on April 23. Hadi government forces also clashed with Abu Abbas Brigade forces in Taiz city on April 24. The Abu Abbas brigade is a Saudi-led coalition-backed Salafi militia that operates against the al Houthi movement in Taiz and cooperates with AQAP. Hadi government forces also announced the arrest of twenty-one individuals suspected of carrying out assassinations and “causing chaos” in Taiz city on April 25.[1]

The al Houthi House of Representatives swore in Mahdi al Mashat as the new Supreme Political Council President in Sana’a city on April 25. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed former Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad on April 19. The al Houthi National Defense Council appointed al Mashat to replace al Samad on April 23.[2]

AQAP militants detonate an improvised explosive device (IED)  killing six al Houthi troops in Wadi Adal village, Rada’a district, western al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 24 according to an official AQAP media channel. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi forces in al Bayda using IEDs three other times since April 9.[3]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to discuss Griffiths’ recent briefing to the UN Security Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 25. Griffiths arrived in Riyadh to meet with Hadi government and Saudi officials on April 23.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali authorities arrested an ISIS militant in Mogadishu on April 24. The militant, Jama Hussein Hassan, possessed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the time of his arrest. Hassan confessed his involvement in multiple assassinations of security personnel in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia. Afgoi security officials denied the presence of ISIS in southern Somalia in MAR 2018. A breakaway faction led by a former al Shabaab leader pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014. ISIS in Somalia primarily operates around the Galgala Mountains in Puntland region, northeastern Somalia.[5] 

Floods from the Shabelle River have displaced between 5,000-9,000 people in Beledweyne town, Hiraan region in central Somalia since mid-April. The governor of Hiraan region said that civilians need humanitarian assistance from the Somali Federal Government (SFG). The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the floods will affect agriculture and cause further displacement among internally displaced persons (IDPs).[6]

Al Shabaab militants conducted attacks targeting security forces in southern Somalia on April 24-25. Militants ambushed Ugandan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in El Waregow area near Marka, Lower Shabelle region on April 24. Al Shabaab claimed to destroy several AMISOM vehicles with IEDs in the ambush. Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali National Army (SNA) forces patrolling in Tieglow town in Bakool region, southwestern Somalia on April 25. Militants also targeted Ugandan AMISOM troops with an IED in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region on April 25.[7]

[1] Government forces announced the arrest of 21 wanted security personnel in the city of Taiz,” al Masdar, April 25, 2018,; “Heavy fighting between the government forces and the Brigades Abu Abbas in Taiz,” al Masdar, April 24, 2018,; “Pro-AQAP wires are eulogizing Abu Khalid al-San'ani,” Twitter, April 24, 2018,; “Renewed clashes between the security campaign and Abu Abbas Brigades,” Barakish, April 24, 2018,; “The Abu al-Abbas Brigades continue to rebel and the brigade's troops fail to plan to hand over strategic positions to the Houthis,” Mareb Press, April 24, 2018,; “The killing of an al Qaeda operative in Taiz,” 7adramout, April 24, 2018,; and “The legitimacy of the killing of an international employee with a large security crackdown in Taiz,” Aawsat, April 24, 2018,
[2] “President Mahdi al Mashat is sworn in by the House of Representatives,” Saba, April 25, 2018,; and “Houthi leader al Mashat sworn in as chairman of Supreme Political Council,” Aden Tomorrow, April 25, 2018,  
[3] “AQAP kills 6 al Houthi forces with an IED in Wadi Adal village in Reda,” Telegram, April 23, 2018.
[4] “President of the Republic praises the efforts of the UN Envoy,” Saba New, April 25, 2018,; and “Yemen President praises the efforts of the UN Envoy,” Aden Tomorrow, April 25, 2018,
[5] “ISIS-Al Shabaab Militant Arrested With IEDs In Mogadishu,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 24, 2018,; “ISIS Operative Nabbed In Mogadishu,” Radio Dalsan, April 24, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, April 24, 2018,
[6] “OCHA Somalia Flash Update #1 - Humanitarian impact of heavy rains,” Relief Web, April 22, 2018,; “Floods displace thousands people in central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, April 25, 2018,; and “9,000 people displaced by floods in Beledweyne town,” Hiiraan Online, April 25, 2018,
[7] “Al Shabaab militants ambush UPDF convoy in southern Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, April 25, 2018,; Al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM forces in El Waregow area, Telegram, April 24, 2018; “Alshabab and Government soldiers fight in Bakool,” Mustaqbal Radio, April 25, 2018,; “Al-Shabaab Terrorist Ambush on UPDF Convoy in Southern Somalia Repulsed,” Strategic Intelligence News, April 25, 2018,; Al Shabaab IED targets Ugandan troops in Barawe, Telegram, April 25, 2018.

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