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 fire ballistic missiles at southwestern Saudi Arabia; Hadi government-aligned  forces launch new offensive in Sa’ada governorate; al Houthi forces ambush Sudanese soldiers near the Saudi-Yemeni border; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with STC President in Abu Dhabi and al Houthi officials in Muscat; AQAP militants detonate VBIED targeting al Houthi forces in southeastern al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali Speaker of the Lower House resigns amid power struggle; Somali authorities seize millions of dollars from an Emirati plane at Mogadishu airport

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi forces launched two ballistic missiles and one rocket targeting southern Saudi Arabia on April 8 and 9. Al Houthi forces claimed to fire a Badr 1 ballistic missile at a Saudi military base in Khamis Mushait city, Asir region, southwestern Saudi Arabia and a Uragan rocket near the Saudi-Yemeni border crossing in Asir on April 8. Al Houthi forces also claimed to fire a Qaher 2-M ballistic missile at Jazan city, southwestern Saudi Arabia on April 9. Saudi Arabia has not yet commented on the missile attacks.[1]

Hadi government-aligned forces began a new offensive in southwestern Sa’ada governorate, northern Yemen on April 7. Hadi government-aligned forces, flying the South Yemen flag, seized territory in al Malahiz area, al Zaher district, southwestern Sa’ada. Sudanese and Saudi troops deployed to the Saudi-Yemeni border near Sa’ada ahead of the offensive on April 5, according to Hadi government military officials. Hadi government-aligned forces also made advances against al Houthi forces in Baqim district, eastern Sa’ada governorate.[2]

Al Houthi forces attacked Sudanese troops participating in the Saudi-led coalition in Midi city, Hajjah governorate, near the Saudi-Yemeni border on April 6. Hadi government military sources reported that the attack killed dozens of Sudanese soldiers. The al Houthi attack resulted in the largest loss Sudanese soldiers have suffered since their arrival to Yemen in 2015, according to Hadi government military sources. Sudan has not yet commented on the attack.[3]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) President Aydarus Qasim al Zubaidi and other STC officials to discuss the Yemen peace process in Abu Dhabi, UAE on April 9. Griffiths also met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi and an al Houthi delegation in Muscat, Oman on April 8. Griffiths has met with officials from the Hadi government, Saudi-led coalition, al Houthi movement, and the STC since assuming the role of UN Special Envoy to Yemen on March 19.[4]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting al Houthi forces in Mukayras district, southeastern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on April 6.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari resigned amid parliamentarians’ efforts to pass a motion of no confidence against him on April 9. Jawari resigned after a meeting with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on April 8. Jawari had previously stated that he refused to offer his resignation at Farmajo’s request on March 31, which Jawari had refused. Security forces loyal to Jawari and President Farmajo deployed to the parliament building on April 4 in response to a planned no-confidence vote against Jawari, leading to an armed standoff. Farmajo and Jawari have been actively disputing since the Parliament, under Jawari’s leadership, passed legislation requiring legislative approval for foreign investment deals in March 2018. Farmajo interpreted the move as an encroachment on his executive power.[6]

 Somali security forces seized about $10 million from an Emirati plane at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport on April 8. Some officials claimed the money was intended to dismantle the no-confidence motion against Lower House Speaker Jawari, while others stated that the money was meant for UAE-trained Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers.  The seizure comes amid a diplomatic row between the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the UAE. The SFG remained neutral in the Gulf crisis between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. It resisted pressure to cut ties with Qatar despite Saudi and Emirati demands. The SFG rejected an agreement between an Emirati port operator and the semi-autonomous Somaliland state for use of Somaliland’s Berbera port in March 2018 as a breach of sovereignty.[7]


[1]  “Badr 1 missile targeted Khamis Mashayt in Asir,” Saba Ye, April 8, 2018, http://saba.ye/ar/news492590.htm; and “The launching of a ballistic missile on Sudanese mercenary groups in Jizan,” Ansar Allah, April 9, 2018, http://www.ansarollah.com/archives/152546; and “The Launch of Uragan missile and the capture of a Saudi soldier and 5 mercenaries in Asir.” Al Masirah, April 8, 2018, https://www.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=22011&cat_id=3.
[2] “Hadi-backed forces continue to advance in the Houthi stronghold of Sa’ada,” Yafa News, April 9, 2018, http://yafa-news.net/archives/313723; and “Hadi-government backed forces are advancing on al Malahiz, Sa’ada,” Arabi 21, April 7, 2018, https://arabi21.com/story/1084518/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%B9-%D8%A8%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%81-%D8%B5%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%82%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86; and “Rebels kill dozens of Sudanese troops in Yemen: military sources,” Agence France Presse, April 7, 2018, https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/rebels-kill-dozens-sudanese-troops-yemen-military-sources-doc-13s7oi5.
[3] “Dozens of Sudanese soldiers are killed by Houthi on the west coast,” Al Masirah, April 9, 2018, https://www.almasirah.net/details.php?es_id=22037&cat_id=3; and “Dozens of Sudanese soldiers killed in Yemen by Houthi rebels,” Middle East Monitor, April 9, 2018, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180409-dozens-of-sudanese-soldiers-killed-in-yemen-by-houthi-rebels/.
[4] “Southern Transition leaders meet UN envoy Griffiths,” Aden Lang. April 9, 2018, http://adnlng.info/news/92110/; and “The leadership of the Transitional Council meets the UN envoy in Abu Dhabi,” Aden Tomorrow, April 9, 2018, http://adengd.net/news/312221/
[5] AQAP militants attack al Houthi forces with VBIED in al Bayda, April 7, 2018, Telegram.
[6] “Top Somali Politician Steps Down, Avoiding Showdown With President,” The New York Times, April 9, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/world/africa/somalia-parliament-speaker.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld; and “Somalia parliament speaker quits ahead of motion against him: lawmaker,” Reuters, April 9, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-somalia-politics/somalia-parliament-speaker-quits-ahead-of-motion-against-him-lawmaker-idUSKBN1HG0LZ; and “Jawari in lone ranger act leaves supporters dazed,” Goobjoog, April 9, 2018, http://goobjoog.com/english/jawari-in-lone-ranger-act-leaves-supporters-dazed/; and “Somali parliament speaker “resigns” after power struggle,” Radio Shabelle, April 9, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-parliament-speaker-resigns-amid-political-stand-off/.
[7] “Large bags of cash ‘seized at Mogadishu airport’,” Radio Shabelle, April 8, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/large-bags-cash-seized-mogadishu-airport/; and “Somali authorities seize millions of dollars from UAE plane in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog, April 8, 2018, http://goobjoog.com/english/somali-authorities-seize-millions-of-dollars-from-uae-plane-in-mogadishu/; and “Somalia Seizes Nearly $10M From UAE Plane in Mogadishu,” Voice of America, April 8, 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/somalia-united-arab-emirates-money-seizure/4337888.html.

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