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-Saleh forces claim to fire ballistic missile toward King Salman Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition interdicts al Houthi-Saleh vessels in Red Sea; Saudi-led coalition asks UN to assume jurisdiction over al Hudaydah port

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government blames Saudi-led coalition for deadly attack on refugee vessel in Red Sea; al Shabaab militants attack multiple SNA and AMISOM positions in southern Somalia; SNA soldiers protest unpaid salaries in Bulobarde town in Hiraan region

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to fire a “Borkan-2” ballistic missile at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 18. Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over Asir region in southern Saudi Arabia on March 18, according to a local newspaper. Official Saudi sources have not confirmed the incident. Al Houthi-Saleh forces previously claimed an unconfirmed “Borkan-2” ballistic missile attack on a Saudi military base in al Muzahimiyah, roughly 35 miles west of Riyadh, on February 5.[1] 

The Saudi-led coalition claimed to intercept three al Houthi-Saleh vessels off the northwestern coast of Midi district, Hajjah governorate, on March 17. Official Saudi sources claimed the ships intended to attack Saudi-led coalition ships patrolling in the area. The Saudi-led coalition claimed to sink one of the ships and capture a second while the third fled. Al Houthi-Saleh forces carried out an unmanned remote-controlled boat attack on a Saudi frigate off the coast of al Hudaydah governorate on January 30.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition called on the UN to immediately assume jurisdiction over al Hudaydah port to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery on March 20. The Saudi-led coalition accused the al Houthi-Saleh faction of using al Hudaydah port as a hub for weapons smuggling. The Russian government criticized Saudi Arabia for blockading al Hudaydah port and exacerbating the region’s humanitarian crisis on March 13. Al Hudaydah port remains one of the only ports from which humanitarian aid can enter al Houthi-Saleh-controlled territory. Residents in al Hudaydah governorate face an ongoing cholera epidemic and impending famine.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) blamed the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen for a helicopter attack on a refugee vessel that killed at least 42 Somalis on March 16. The attack occurred off the coast of al Hudaydah governorate, on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Somali Foreign Minister Abdisalam Omer blamed coalition forces during a radio broadcast on March 18. Both the coalition and al Houthi-Saleh forces denied responsibility for the attack. The SFG called on the coalition to investigate the incident. Regional competition for influence in Somalia has heightened tensions between the SFG and the UAE, a member of the coalition, in recent weeks.[4]

Al Shabaab militants attacked multiple Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) bases in southern Somalia on March 18 and March 20. Al Shabaab militants attempted to raid a SNA base near Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region on March 18. AMISOM-backed SNA forces repelled the attack and killed at least three al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab militants also attempted to raid SNA and AMISOM positions on the outskirts of Baidoa town in Bay region on March 20. SNA and AMISOM forces repelled the al Shabaab attack and killed at least seven militants.[5] 

SNA soldiers blockaded major streets to protest unpaid salaries in Bulobarde town in Hiraan region, central Somalia, on March 18. The soldiers demanded salary payments from the Somali Federal Government (SFG) after the government failed to pay wages for several months. Hundreds of SNA soldiers also protested in response to unpaid wages in Mogadishu on March 12. New President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo promised to prioritize wage payments to soldiers and police during his campaign.[6]

[1] “Borkan-2 missile strikes King Salman Air Force Base in Saudi capital of Riyadh,” Sabanews, March 18, 2017,; “Ballistic missile repelled after launch from Sana’a,” Najran Today, Twitter, March 18, 2017,; and “Saudi Arabia & Yemen, March 17-18 attacks”, Le Beck Int’l, Twitter,
[2] “Coalition Navy intercepts 3 Houthi launches off Midi seaport in Yemen,” Saudi Press Agency, March 17, 2017,; and “Alliance intercepts three Houthi boats off Midi port attempting to carry out an attack on coalition ships,” Aden Lange, March 17, 2017,
[3] “Arab coalition calls for the United Nations to oversee port of al Hudaydah,” Aden Lange, March 20, 2017,; and Tom Miles, “No famine in Yemen but not over half on the brink - UN-backed report,” Reuters, March 15, 2017,
[4] Harriet Agerholm, “Saudi-led coalition blamed after helicopter gunship massacres Somali refugees,” The Independent, March 19, 2017,; Abdi Guled, “Somalia blames Saudi-led coalition for deadly strike on boat,” Chicago Tribune,
[5] “Heavy fighting erupts near Baidoa town,” Garowe Online, March 20, 2017,; “At least three militants killed in attack near Qoryoley district,” Garowe Online, March 18, 2017,
[6] “Mutinous SNA forces seize major roads in Buloburte,” Shabelle News, March 18, 2017,
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