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 Navy destroys alleged al Houthi-Saleh explosive boat near Jazan province; AQAP denies arrest of commander in al Mukalla, Hadramawt; AQAP denies responsibility for militia leader assassinations in Taiz; AQAP attacks al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda and Ibb governorates; Saudi-led coalition drops leaflets in preparation for al Hudaydah offensive; Russia calls for UN-brokered ceasefire as Geneva conference enters final day

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab ambushes Ethiopian AMISOM convoy near Beledweyne, Hiraan region; Puntland State security forces disrupt al Shabaab bomb plot in Boosaaso, Bari region; Somali president begins official state visit to Turkey

Yemen Security Brief

The Saudi Royal Navy claimed to destroy a remote-controlled explosive boat advancing toward the coast of Jazan region, southern Saudi Arabia on April 25. The Royal Navy claimed that al Houthi-Saleh forces aimed to attack a Saudi Aramco facility with the vessel. Al Houthi-Saleh forces used a remote-controlled explosive boat to attack a Saudi frigate off the coast of western al Hudaydah governorate on January 30.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) denied that Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni counterterrorism forces arrested any of their leaders or militants in al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, in the past week. A Saudi-led coalition commander reported that Yemeni and coalition forces arrested a prominent AQAP leader and seized a weapons cache in al Mukalla on April 22.[2]

AQAP denied any connection to the recent assassinations of militia members in Taiz city in a message to residents of the city on April 25. The statement follows the assassinations of multiple members of the Abu Abbas brigade, a Salafi militia aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government against the al Houthi-Saleh bloc, during the past month. AQAP emphasized that it only fights against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Taiz and blamed the assassinations on American and Emirati agents. [3]

AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in central Yemen on April 25 and 26. AQAP reported that its militants killed eight al Houthi-Saleh troops in Tayab district, southern al Bayda governorate on April 26. An AQAP militant also threw a grenade into an al Houthi-Saleh security headquarters, killing three troops and injuring five others, in Ibb city on April 26.[4]

Saudi-led coalition planes dropped leaflets into the city of al Hudaydah in western Yemen on April 26 asking residents to join “popular resistance” forces against the al Houthi-Saleh bloc. The leaflets state that al Houthi-Saleh control of al Hudaydah will exacerbate the risk of famine in Yemen and prevent medical aid from reaching a majority of the Yemeni people. The Saudi-led coalition plans to seize al Hudaydah port from al Houthi-Saleh forces, potentially cutting off humanitarian aid to a majority of Yemeni civilians.[5]

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Yemen International Donors Conference in Geneva that Russia “cannot allow” the Saudi-led coalition’s planned offensive on al Hudaydah port on humanitarian grounds on April 25. Gatilov’s statement comes one day after Acting Russian Ambassador to Yemen Andrey Chernovol met with al Houthi-Saleh officials in Sana’a to discuss the offensive. Gatilov also called for a resumption of UN-sponsored peace talks. Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh celebrated the Gatilov’s statement on social media on an April 26. Acting Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter announced that his country is prepared to host ceasefire talks on the Yemeni civil war during an address at the conference, which raised $1.1 billion for UN-supported aid agencies to distribute.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants ambushed an Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy near Beledweyne town in Hiraan region, central Somalia, on April 26. Dozens of militants opened fire on the convoy in the remote Burdar area, located 25 miles east of Beledweyne. Al Shabaab claimed to kill two Ethiopian soldiers and destroy several vehicles. Al Shabaab took control of several towns in central Somalia after Ethiopian troops withdrew in September 2016.[7]

Puntland State security forces arrested five suspected al Shabaab militants in Boosaaso in Bari region, northeastern Somalia, on April 25. The suspects carried explosives and may have planned to conduct an attack in Boosaaso. Al Shabaab conducts intermittent attacks in semi-autonomous Puntland State. Al Shabaab militants killed at least eight Puntland military forces in an ambush outside Boosaaso on April 23.[8]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo traveled to Turkey to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 25. President Farmajo will discuss humanitarian aid, security, trade, and other key issues with President Erdogan during his three-day official visit. Somalia is the largest recipient of Turkish foreign aid. The Turkish government has spent more than $400 million in aid and investments in Somalia since 2011. Turkey will also open a new military base on the outskirts of Mogadishu this month.[9]


[1] “Saudi Arabia destroys a Houthi booby-trapped boat off of their waters,” al Masdar, April 26, 2017,
[2] AQAP denies Saudi-led coalition forces arrested its militants in al Mukalla, Telegram, April 26, 2017.
[3] “AQAP Denies Connection to Assassinations in Taiz, Seeks Understanding with Local Population,” SITE, April 25, 2017,
[4] AQAP claims attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in Ibb and al Bayda governorate, Telegram, April 25 and 26, 2017.
[5] “Arab alliance drops publication encouraging inhabitants of al Hudaydah to join the legitimacy,” Aden Lange, April 26, 2017,
[6] “Switzerland says it is ready to host peace talks on Yemen.” Aden Tomorrow, April 26, 2017,; “Bin Daghir reveals who will receive funds obtained from the Geneva Conference,” April 26, 2017,; Stephanie Nebehay, “U.N., Russia warn against assault on main Yemeni port,” Reuters, April 25, 2017,; “Foreign Minister meets with Acting Ambassador for Russian Federation to Yemen,” Sabanews, April 24, 2017,; and “Saleh hails Russian stance on liberation of al Hudaydah,” Aden Tomorrow, April 26, 2017,
[7] “Al Shabaab militants ambush Ethiopian troops in central Somalia,” Garowe Online, April 26, 2017,; and “Elbur Falls to al Shabaab as Ethiopian Troops Withdraw,” All Africa, April 3, 2017,
[8] “Puntland forces arrest al Shabaab suspects carrying explosives in Boosaaso,” Garowe Online, April 26, 2017,; and Caleb Weiss, “Shabaab targets soldiers in Puntland ambush,” Long War Journal, April 23, 2017,
[9] “Somalia’s President makes first state visit to Turkey,” Garowe Online April 25, 2017,; and Laura Pitel, “Somalia reaps rewards of Ankara’s investment,” Financial Times, May 24, 2016,

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