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: Emirati-backed forces begin operation to secure parts of western Hadramawt from AQAP; Aden security forces kill supposed ISIS emir of Aden; al Houthi forces launch eight ballistic missiles targeting Jizan region, Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition warplanes bomb al Houthi Ministry of Interior in Sana’a; Salafi militants surrender government infrastructure to Hadi government forces in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militant detonates SVEST targeting security forces in Galkayo, Mudug region; Somali parliament elects new speaker of the Lower House; SFG responds to flooding in southern and central Somalia; al Shabaab militants target intelligence official with car bomb in Waberi district, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces began an operation to secure roads from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in western Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on April 29. Hadhrami Elite Forces deployed to roads in Daw’an, al Dhlia’ah, Yabuth, and Hajr districts, western Hadramawt. Yemeni Second Military District Spokesman Hisham al Jabari announced the start of the operation, dubbed Operation Black Mountains, on April 28. Hadhrami Elite forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition conducted two operations to clear AQAP from parts of Hadramawt in February.[1]

Aden Security Department forces killed a senior Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) commander in Aden city on April 28. Security forces killed Saleh Nasser Fadl al Bakhishi and arrested three other ISIS militants during a raid on an ISIS safe house in Aden. Bakhishi was the emir of ISIS in Aden, according to Aden security forces. ISIS media has not yet commented on the attack.[2]

Al Houthi forces launched eight Badr 1 short-range ballistic missiles at “economic and vital targets” in Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 28, according to al Houthi sources. Saudi air defenses intercepted four ballistic missiles, according to Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki. Missile fragments killed one Saudi man in Jizan, according to a Saudi Civil Defense spokesman. The al Houthi ballistic missile launches followed the funeral of former al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad on April 28. Al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi vowed that al Samad’s death would not go unanswered on April 23. Al Houthi forces also launched a Zilzal 2 ballistic missile targeting Saudi-led coalition troops in Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia on April 28. The Saudi-led coalition has not confirmed the al Houthi ballistic missile launched at Najran region.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes coinciding with the funeral of former al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad in Sana’a city. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeted al Houthi officials discussing al Samad’s funeral in the Interior Ministry building in Sana’a city, killing at least 38 al Houthi soldiers and two al Houthi leaders known as al Marouni and Abu Ala on April 27, according to Saudi state sources. Al Houthi Deputy Interior Minister Abdelhakim al Khaiwani was also present in the Interior Ministry building during the airstrike, according to Saudi state sources. The al Houthi movement has not confirmed the April 27 coalition airstrike. Two coalition airstrikes killed one individual near the location of al Samad’s funeral held in al Saba’een Square in Sana’a city on April 28, according to al Houthi sources.[4]

The Salafi Abu Abbas Brigade began surrendering several government buildings to the Military Police and Fifth Brigade of the Yemeni Presidential Protection forces in Taiz city, central Yemen on April 30. Hadi government forces clashed with Abu Abbas Brigade militants occupying government buildings and bases in Taiz city on April 24. The Abu Abbas Brigade is backed by the Saudi-led coalition and cooperates with AQAP in Taiz governorate. Hadi government Taiz Deputy Governor Aref Jamal brokered a truce with the Abu Abbas Brigade on April 28. Jamal has previously mediated conflicts involving the Abu Abbas Brigade.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest (SVEST) targeting Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in a busy restaurant in Galkayo, Mudug region, central Somalia on April 28. The SVEST killed several civilians and at least four soldiers, including an SNA commander. The SVEST targeted Puntland and Galmudug security forces, which the Somali Federal Government (SFG) recently integrated into the SNA. Al Shabaab regularly targets Somali and regional security forces in central Somalia to undermine the SFG.[6] 

The Somali parliament elected Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman as the new speaker of the Lower House on April 30. Abdirahman was previously the Somali ambassador to Turkey and then Minister of Defense. He resigned as Minister of Defense to run for the speakership on April 24. Abdirahman will replace former Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, who resigned on April 9 after a weeks-long power struggle with the executive branch.[7]

The SFG responded to flooding in central Somalia on April 28. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire appointed a national disaster response committee to address the flooding. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and SNA forces helped victims relocate and provided humanitarian assistance in Beledweyne, Hiraan region in central Somalia on April 29. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo also visited Beledweyne, which was most affected by the floods. The SFG called for international support to help about 500,000 people affected by floods since early April.[8]

Al Shabaab militants injured a Somali intelligence official with a car bomb in Waberi district, Mogadishu, central Somalia on April 28. The car bomb injured at least two other people near the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) office in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab regularly targets Somali government officials with assassinations and bombings in the capital.[9]

[1] “The announcement of the start of a military campaign to pursue al Qaeda in Hadramawt,” Al Masdar, April 28, 2018,; “‘Black Mountains’ provides areas north and west of Hadramawt,” Sky News Arabia, April 29, 2018,; and “‘Black Mountains’ pursue al Qaeda militants in Hadramawt,” Sky News Arabia, April 28, 2018,
[2] “Aden security announced the killing of the Amir of Aden,” Aden Ghd, April 28, 2018,; “Killing of prominent Islamic State leader,” Twitter, April 28, 2018,; “Yemeni security forces kill senior Islamic State commander: statement,” Reuters, April 28, 2018,; and “Yemen leader of ISIS killed in Aden,” al Arabiya, April 28, 2018,
[3] “The missile force is targeting eight ballistic missiles at economic and vital targets in Jizan,” Saba, April 28, 2018,; “For the first time, the missile force hits Jizan with eight ballistic missiles at once,” Al Masirah, April 28, 2018,; “The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition: Coalition Air Defense Intercepts and Destroys four Ballistic Missiles Launched by the Iranian Houthi Militia at Saudi Arabia,” SPA, April 28, 2018,; “Saudi man killed in missile salvo from Yemen,” Reuters, April 28, 2018,; and “Zilzal 2 missile launched and the bombing of mercenaries in Najran,” Al Masirah, April 28, 2018,
[4] “Saudi media: Airstrike kills Houthi leaders in Yemen capital,” AP, April 30, 2018,; “Arab Coalition strikes kill 38 at al Houthi leadership meeting in Sana’a,” Al Arabiya, April 28, 2018,; “A martyr and two wounded mourners from raids on Saba’een Square,” Al Masirah, April 28, 2018,; and “Coalition air force targets two areas around al Saba’een Square during the funeral of President al Samad,” Saba, April 28, 2018,
[5] “Initiate the handover of government sites and buildings in Taiz to the army and security,” Al Masdar, April 30, 2018,; “Taiz: stop the fire and the spread of the army in the areas of clashes in preparation for the handover of institutions,” Al Masdar, April 28, 2018,; “Taiz: the killing of three civilians and wounding others, including soldiers in sniper operations and shelling of the city,” Al Masdar, April 27, 2018,; and “Taiz: agreement between the security forces and Abu Abbas Brigades to end tension and fighting,” Al Masdar, April 27, 2018,
[6] “Suicide bomber kills four army officers in Somalia: mayor,” Reuters, April 28, 2018,; “Military officials killed in Somalia restaurant blast,” CNN, April 28, 2018,; “At least six people killed in a suicide blast in Galkayo,” Radio Shabelle, April 28, 2018,; “UNSOM condemns suicide bombing in Gaalkacyo as attempt to derail reconciliation process,” UNSOM, April 28, 2018,; and “Four soldiers killed in suicide bomb in Galkaayo,” Goobjoog, April 28, 2018,
[7] “ Former Defence Minister Mursal Elected Speaker,” Radio Dalsan, April 30, 2018,; “Mohamed Mursal elected 2nd Speaker in post TFG Somalia,” Goobjoog, April 30, 2018,; and AEI’s Critical Threats Project, Gulf of Aden Security Review, April 9, 2018,
[8] “Peacekeepers to the rescue as floods overwhelm Somalia,” Daily Nation, April 29, 2018,; “Somalia calls for international support as floods displace thousands,” Radio Shabelle, April 29, 2018,; “AU peacekeepers rescue floods-effected residents in Somalia,” April 30, 2018,; “Somalia Govt Forms Flood Response Team After 170000 Displaced,” Radio Dalsan, April 28, 2018,; and “Somali PM forms Committee as floods force 1,000s in the country,” Radio Shabelle, April 28, 2018,
[9] “Car bomb in Somali capital leaves at least two people wounded,” Radio Shabelle, April 28, 2018,; Al Shabaab claim responsibility for car bomb in Mogadishu, Telegram, April 28, 2018.

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