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: U.S. approves $1.3 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia; UN Special Envoy will meet with al Houthi and Omani officials in Muscat; ISIS claims attack targeting al Houthi forces in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali President fires presidential guard commander; al Shabaab militants detonate two SVBIEDs targeting military checkpoints in Mogadishu; U.S. conducts airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in Jilib, Middle Jubba region; Chinese Navy deploys to the Gulf of Aden for escort mission

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. approved a $1.3 billion sale of artillery to Saudi Arabia on April 5. The sale includes 180 Paladin self-propelled howitzer systems. U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman discussed Saudi arms purchases and investment pledges in the U.S. that would be worth $400 billion when implemented during Bin Salman’s official visit to the U.S. on March 20.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is scheduled to meet with an al Houthi movement delegation and Omani officials in Muscat, Oman on April 7. Griffiths is also expected to meet with officials from the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Southern Movement in Abu Dhabi, UAE following his visit to Muscat. Griffiths recently postponed a visit to Aden city and al Mukalla city due to security and logistical concerns.[2]

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed its militants killed an al Houthi soldier with a sniper in northwestern al Quraishyah district, al Bayda governorate, southwestern Yemen on April 3. ISIS released a video of the attack along with the claim. ISIS Wilayat al Bayda last claimed an attack on al Houthi forces on March 16.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo fired the commander of Somalia’s presidential guard on April 5. Farmajo’s military chiefs advised him to fire Presidential Guard Commander Colonel Ahmed Mohamed for interfering with an armed standoff in the parliament on April 4. Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari and President Farmajo deployed security personnel to parliament in response to a vote of no confidence against Jawari on April 4. Somali security forces arrested about 45 soldiers, many of whom escorted Jawari to the parliament building. Somali military leaders accused Colonel Mohamed of allowing a group of presidential guards to escort Jawari to the parliament building. Colonel Mohamed also opposed the arrest of Jawari’s security detail.[4]

Al Shabaab militants detonated two suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIEDs) targeting military checkpoints in Mogadishu on April 6. The attacks targeted a military checkpoint near the Mogadishu airport and another checkpoint near the busy KM4 junction. The Somali National Army (SNA) stated that the blasts killed about three people. Al Shabaab claimed the blasts killed over 18 Somali soldiers. Al Shabaab frequently targets security forces with IEDs in the capital.[5] 

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on April 5. The airstrike killed three al Shabaab militants and destroyed a technical. AFRICOM last conducted airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Jilib on February 19 and February 26. Al Shabaab bases leadership in Jilib, the most populous city in the Middle Jubba region.[6]

The Chinese military deployed its naval fleet to the Gulf of Aden from an east Chinese port on April 4. The Chinese government claims the naval fleet will escort civilian ships near the coast of Somalia. The fleet consists of over 700 soldiers, dozens of special operations troops, and two helicopters. The Chinese Navy began to carry out escort missions after a December 2008 UN Security Council mandate to help interdict attacks from Somali pirates. China also built a military base in Djibouti in late 2017 as part of the country’s efforts to project power over the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean.[7]

[1] “US approves $1.3 billion sale of artillery to Saudi Arabia,” Washington Post, April 5, 2018,; and “US to update Saudi artillery for $1.3 billion,” Gulf News, April 6, 2018,
[2] “Martin Griffiths visits Muscat on Saturday,” Aden Lang, April 6, 2018,; and “Griffiths will visit Muscat on Saturday to revive negotiations,” Yemen Today, April 6, 2018,
[3] ISIS claims sniper attack on al Houthi member, Telegram, April 3, 2018.
[4] “Somalia Presidential Guards Head Fired Over Jawari Bodyguard Fiasco,” Radio Dalsan, April 5, 2018,; and “Somalia: Presidential Guard chief sacked amid political crisis,” Garowe Online, April 6, 2018,
[5] “2 car bombs go off in Somalia's capital, 1 near airport,” Fox News, April 6, 2018,; “Three people are dead after a pair of suicide car bombings in Somalia’s capital, police said Friday,” AP News, April 6, 2018,; “Car bomb blast kills one person in the Somali capital,” Hiiraan Online, April 6, 2018,; Al Shabaab claims responsibility for two VBIEDs in Mogadishu, Telegram, April 6, 2018.
[6] “U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia,” AFRICOM Press Releases, April 6, 2018,
[7] “China sends new naval fleet for escort mission,” Xinhua, April 5, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
May '18
Apr '18
Mar '18