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: Al Houthi forces launch ballistic missile targeting Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan region; AQAP militants claim controversial attack against Emirati-backed forces in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. military suspends air operations in Djibouti; Somali government forces arrest soldiers deployed by Lower House Speaker to parliament building in response to no-confidence vote; suspected al Shabaab IED targets official in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan region, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 4. Saudi ARAMCO announced that all Jizan facilities were operating normally following the al Houthi missile launch. Al Houthi forces have launched two ballistic missiles at Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Najran and Jizan regions and attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea in the past two weeks.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed a March 28 attack against Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces on April 4. AQAP militants ambushed Hadhrami Elite Forces and killed ten soldiers near the al Aqiq checkpoint in Hajar district, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on March 28. Local forces claimed AQAP militants mutilated the bodies of the troops after the attack. An unofficial AQAP social media channel denied this claim. Separate unofficial AQAP social media channels circulated a photo of one of the mutilated bodies that first appeared in local news, however. The official AQAP claim did not comment on whether or not the bodies were mutilated after the attack. AQAP has previously apologized for decapitations because it seeks to placate the local population in order to retain popular  support.[2]

AQAP militants attacked al Houthi forces with an improvised explosive device (IED) near Jabal Jamida in al Zub area, al Qurayshiyah district, al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 2. AQAP maintains a stronghold near Jabal Jamida and frequently attacks the al Houthi movement there to position themselves as the vanguard for the Yemeni Sunni population.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The U.S. military suspended air operations at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The Djiboutian government asked the U.S. military to temporarily halt American military flights on April 5 after two American aircraft crashed in Djibouti on April 3. A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jet crashed while taking off and Marine Corps CH-53 Helicopter sustained damage while landing. The decision to halt air operations also prompted U.S. military officials to cancel a military exercise in Djibouti called Alligator Dagger. Both of the aircraft that crashed were scheduled to participate in the exercise. The U.S. military uses Camp Lemonnier as a base to conduct airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Somalia and al Qaeda fighters in Yemen. U.S. officials have recently criticized the growing influence of China, which established a military base in Djibouti in  2017.[4]

Somali security officials arrested about 45 security personnel deployed by the Lower House Speaker to intervene in a motion of no confidence against the Speaker in parliament on April 4. Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo both deployed security forces to the parliament building on April 4, the day of the scheduled vote against Jawari. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces took over security of the parliament building after AMISOM commander Paul Lokech intervened on April 4.[5]

A suspected al Shabaab roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Sana’a junction in Mogadishu, central Somalia on April 4. The IED targeted a Daynile Deputy District Commissioner, who survived the assassination attempt. The IED blast killed at least three people and injured at least nine others. A spokesman for the Somali Ministry of Defense accused al Shabaab of conducting the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Shabaab conducts frequent IED attacks targeting security forces and officials in  Mogadishu.[6]

[1] “The rocket force targets Aramco tanks in Jizan with a ballistic missile,” Al Masirah, April 4, 2018,; “Saudi ARAMCO confirms all facilities in Jizan are operating normally and safely,” Twitter, April 4, 2018,; and “Saudi Forces Destroy Ballistic Missile Fired by Al Houthi Militia towards Jazan, Coalition Command Announces,” SPA, April 4, 2018,
[2] AQAP militants attack Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hajar district, Telegram, April 4, 2018.
[3] AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces near Jabal Jamida, Telegram, April 4, 2018.
[4] “US military grounds aircraft in Djibouti after multiple accidents,” CNN, April 5, 2018,; Ryan Browne, Twitter, April 5, 2018,; and “Flights grounded at U.S. military base in Africa crucial to anti-terror fight,” NBC News, April 5, 2018,
[5] “Jawari Accuses Executive Of Ordering Security Forces To Block Mps,” Radio Dalsan, April 5, 2018,; “Somalia parliament crisis: Soldiers arrested as speaker denies violating security procedures,” Africa News, April 4, 2018,; “Government used security forces to block MPs-Speaker Jawari,” Goobjoog, April 4, 2018,; and “46 soldiers arrested in connection with Wednesday House session stand-off,” Hiiraan Online, April 5, 2018,

[6] “IED Explosion kills 3, wounds 9 at busy junction in Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, April 5, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, April 4, 2018,

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