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: Three reported U.S. airstrikes target AQAP militants; al Houthi-Saleh bloc reveals “Qahir-M2” ballistic missile; President Hadi attends Arab League Summit in Amman

Horn of Africa: ISIS-linked militants ambush Puntland State security forces near Qandala, Bari region; Somali Federal Parliament approves cabinet appointments

Yemen Security Brief

Three reported U.S. airstrikes targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yemen on March 29.  Reported U.S. warplanes conducted airstrikes near al Rawdah village in central Shabwah governorate, in al Wadi’a in central Abyan governorate, and in Mudiyah in northern Abyan governorate. The Trump administration designated Shabwah, Abyan, and al Bayda governorates as areas of active hostilities in early 2017. This designation enables the Pentagon to conduct airstrikes against AQAP with less oversight from the White House.[1] 

The al Houthi-Saleh Missile Forces unit revealed the “Qahir-M2” ballistic missile. The al Houthi-Saleh bloc claimed to test the Qaher-M2 by firing on the King Khaled Air Base in Asir region, southern Saudi Arabia on March 28. Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Defenses intercepted four ballistic missiles on March 28. The Qahir-M2 has a functional range of 400 kilometers and carries a 350 kg warhead. Al Houthi-Saleh Missile Forces revealed the Qahir-1, a precursor to the M2 with a range of 250 kilometers, in 2015.[2]

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi attended the 28th Arab League summit in Amman, Jordan, on March 28. King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia stated his support for a political solution to the Yemen conflict in a speech on March 29. President Hadi met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov at the summit. Their meeting followed a joint statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the lifting of the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade in Yemen in a joint statement during President Hadi’s visit to Moscow. Al Houthi-Saleh Supreme Political Council President Saleh Ali al Samad sent an open letter to Jordan’s King Abdullah II asking the Arab League to address Yemen’s humanitarian crisis by lifting the Saudi-led blockade. The Arab League is expected to address the situation in Yemen on March 30.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants ambushed Puntland State military forces near Qandala in Bari region, northeastern Somalia, on March 28. The militants detonated a roadside IED before opening fire on the convoy. The attack killed one Puntland State soldier and wounded another. ISIS-linked militants briefly seized Qandala in October 2016. A contingent of between 100 and 200 ISIS-linked militants operate from an outpost in the Galgala mountains in northern Somalia, roughly 60 miles from Qandala.[4] 

The Somali Federal Parliament approved Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire’s cabinet appointments on March 29. Fifteen parliamentarians voted against the measure while 224 voted in favor. The successful cabinet vote comes after more than 100 Somali parliamentarians signed a petition challenging the appointments last week. Parliamentary Speaker Osman Jawari led the petition, which demanded greater distribution of power among the prominent clans. The Somali Federal Government is based on a 4.5 power-sharing formula intended to give each clan equal representation within the government.[5]

[1] Mohammed Mukkashaf, “Four suspected al Qaeda members killed in Yemen drone strike: residents,” Reuters, March 29, 2017,; “Unmanned aircraft targeted a car to a base in al Rawdah Shabwah,” Aden Lang, March 29, 2017,; “Abyan: unmanned aircraft targeted an al Qaeda car on the outskirts of Mudiyah,” Aden Lang, March 29, 2017,; and “Urgent: unmanned aircraft renewed aerial bombardment in the al Wadi’a Abyan,” Aden Lang, March 29, 2017,
[2] “Missile force unveils “Qahir-2” ballistic missile,” Sabanews, March 28, 2017,; “Watch: the launch of ‘Qahir-1’ towards Saudi Arabia’s base in Khamis,” Mersad News Agency, December 13, 2015,; “Missile force targets Khalid Air Base in Asir with three ballistic missiles,” Sabanews, March 28, 2017,; and “Saudi Air Defense intercepts four rockets fired by militias towards the towns of Khamis Mushait and Abha,” Sabanew, March 28, 2017,
[3] “Jordan summit kicks off as civil war persists in four Arab countries,” Aden Lange, March 29, 2017,; “Saudi Arabia confirms support for solution to Yemeni crisis,” Aden Lange, March 29, 2017,; “President of the Republic receives a special envoy from Russian President for the Middle East,” Sabanew, March 28, 2017,; and “Supreme Political Council President sends a message to the President of the 28th Arab League Summit,” Sabanews, March 28, 2017,
[4] “One soldier killed, one wounded by roadside bomb in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, March 28, 2017,; and Nizar Manek, “Islamic State Routed in Somalia’s Puntland, President Says,” Bloomberg, March 23, 2017,
[5] “Somalia Lawmakers Approve New Cabinet After Challenge, Associated Press, March 29, 2017,; and “Fact Sheet On Somalia’s 2016 Electoral Process,” UNSOM, October 23, 2016,
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