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: Former associate of Ali Abdullah Saleh meets with Russian official to discuss GPC; UN Special Envoy to Yemen meets with al Houthi movement leader in Sana’a; AQAP militants ambush Emirati-backed forces in Hadramawt governorate; UN Security Council condemns al Houthi ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Mediation talks in Somali Parliament collapse; al Shabaab militants detonate car bomb targeting an ICRC aid worker in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Press Secretary Ahmed al Sufi met with Russian Ambassador to Yemen Vladimir Dedushkin to discuss the unification efforts of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 29. Dedushkin expressed Russia’s willingness to facilitate lifting UN sanctions on Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, and the establishment of new GPC leadership. The Hadi government announced on March 27 that Ahmed Ali will hold a leadership position in the GPC alongside President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and urged the UN to lift sanctions on Ahmed Ali Saleh. The GPC fractured in December 2017 after al Houthi forces killed former GPC leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.[1] 

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi to advance the Yemeni peace process in Sana’a on March 28. Supreme Revolutionary Council President Mohammed al Houthi reported that Abdul Malik al Houthi discussed lifting the Saudi-led coalition’s partial blockade and ceasing Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. Griffiths also met with al Houthi Human Rights Minister Alia Faisal Abdullatif on March 28. Griffiths arrived in Sana’a on March 24 and has met with multiple al Houthi officials and Sana’a based powerbrokers.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants ambushed Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces, killing at least ten troops near a checkpoint in Wadi Hajar, west of al Mukalla city, Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on March 28. Hadhrami Elite Forces killed five AQAP militants, according to local sources. Some sources report AQAP militants beheaded the Hadhrami Elite soldiers. AQAP has not claimed this attack. Emirati-backed forces conducted a counterrorism operation to clear AQAP militants from areas west of al Mukalla in February.[3]

The UN Security Council (UNSC) condemned a series of al Houthi ballistic missile attacks targeting Saudi Arabia on March 28. The al Houthi movement fired a total of seven ballistic missiles at Riyadh, Khamis Mushayt, Jizan, and Najran cities on March 25. Saudi Arabia claimed to intercept them all, but some evidence suggests that one of Saudi Arabia’s defense systems may have failed. The UNSC highlighted that these attacks pose a grave national security threat to Saudi Arabia and wider security threat to the region. The UNSC also expressed concern over continued violations of the arms embargo on Yemen and the al Houthi movement’s stated intent to launch additional missiles at Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UNSC called on all parties to engage constructively with UN Special Envoy to the UN Martin Griffiths.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A Somali parliamentary committee said that mediation talks collapsed between members of parliament (MPs) over the vote of no confidence against Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari on March 28. The Somali Parliament created the committee to mediate the political conflict between rival MPs in the Lower House. About 120 MPs aligned with Jawari issued a statement saying they nullified the Lower House motion against Jawari because the motion expired on March 28. MPs allied with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire asserted the vote will take place on March 31. Jawari recognized a motion of no confidence filed against him on March 14 as legitimate and gave the MPs who initiated the motion ten days to proceed on March 18. Jawari blamed Prime Minister Khaire for influencing the motion against him on March 14. Security forces deployed to the parliament building on March 16 to respond to escalated tensions.[5]

Al Shabaab militants killed an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aid worker with a car bomb at Zobe intersection Mogadishu on March 28. Militants detonated the car bomb as the aid worker left in his car from the ICRC office. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack through the group’s Shahada News Agency but claimed he was an  employee in the Somali Parliament. Al Shabaab militants have escalated attacks in Mogadishu over the past few weeks. Militants ambushed Somali National Army (SNA) force in Heliwa District, Mogadishu, in a separate attack on March 29.[6]

[1] “Russia supports lifting sanctions on Saleh's son and disapproves of targeting Saudi cities with rockets,” Aden Tomorrow, March 29, 2018,
[2] Mohammed al Houthi, Twitter, March 28, 2018,; “Houthi leader announces the meeting of the UN Envoy with the leader of the group,” Al Masdar, March 29, 2018,; and “Minister of Human Rights meets UN Envoy,” Saba News, March 28, 2018,
[3] “10 Hadhrami Elite killed in al Qaeda attack west of Mukalla,” Nashwan News, March 28, 2018,; “Extremists kill 10 members of the Hadhrami Elite in al Mukalla,” Mareb Press, March 28, 2018,; “Nine soldiers, five militants killed in attack on elite Yemeni force,” Reuters, March 29, 2018,; and “Al Qaeda ambush kills 12 Yemeni soldiers and leaves them decapitated,” The National, March 29, 2018,
[4] “Security Council Press Statement on Yemen,” UN Security Council, March 28, 2018,; and “U.N. Security Council condemns Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, March 28, 2018,
[5] “Mediation Talks In Somali Political Crisis Collapse As Impeachment Deadline Lapses,” March 28, 2018,; and “Somalia: Political Crisis deepens as motiona against Speaker lapsed,” Garowe Online, March 29, 2018,
[6] “Shabaab Claims Killing ICRC Staff Member in Mogadishu Bombing,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 29, 2018, available by subscription at; “ICRC Aid Worker Killed In Mogadishu Car Bombing,” March 29, 2018,; “At least 3 hurt as bomb explodes near aid office in Somalia,” Washington Post, March 28, 2018,; “Heavy fighting erupts in Mogadishu as Gunmen attack army base,” Radio Shabelle, March 29, 2018,; and Al Shabaab Claimed Responsibility for Bombing of ICRC aid worker, Telegram, March 29, 2018.

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