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: Saudi-led coalition claims the al Houthi movement’s Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles originated in Lebanon; senior al Houthi official implores UN Special Envoy to Yemen to move office to Yemen; al Houthi forces launch a ballistic missile targeting Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan province, Saudi Arabia; reported U.S. airstrike kills four AQAP militants in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Qaeda emir calls on East Africans to join the jihad; Somali security forces foil al Shabaab VBIED attack targeting former al Shabaab leader near Baidoa city, Bay region; President Trump nominates a new U.S. ambassador to Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Maliki said that the al Houthi movement received ballistic missiles from Iran and that these missiles originated in southern Beirut, Lebanon in a March 29 interview with CNN. Col. Maliki described  the missiles as being transported from Lebanon through Syria and then Iran before being shipped to al Hudaydah port on Yemen’s Red Sea coastline. The Saudi-led coalition has described this weapons smuggling route to the al Houthis previously.[1]

The president of the al Houthi’s Supreme Revolutionary Council Mohammed al Houthi implored UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to move Griffiths’ permanent office from Amman, Jordan to Yemen during a meeting in Sana’a on March 29. Al Houthi promised Griffiths security and support for the peace process. Griffiths stated he would return to Yemen in mid-April to continue discussions with all Yemeni actors. Griffiths met with al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi on March 28. Griffiths also met with Mujahid al Quhali, head of a Sana’a-based political organization, and al Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein al Azzi on March 29.[2] 

Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting Saudi ARAMCO facilities in Jizan province in southwestern Saudi Arabia on March 29. Saudi air defenses intercepted the missile, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Al Houthi forces launched a Badr 1 at ARAMCO facilities in Najran province in southern Saudi Arabia on March 22.[3]

A U.S. airstrike killed four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Sawma’ah district in southeastern al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on March 29, according to a Pentagon statement. The U.S. has carried out seven airstrikes in Yemen in March, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri urged Muslims in East Africa to participate in jihad in a statement released by al Sahab Media Foundation on March 21. Zawahiri outlined East African history in the “southern battlefront of Islam” against European conquest. Zawahiri also encouraged East African Muslims to fight the corrupt leadership on the battlefields in their regions and to kill apostates, shaming East Africans who have decided not to fight. The statement was Zawahiri’s first message addressed to East Africans in 2018.[5]

Somali security forces foiled an al Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack targeting al Shabaab’s former deputy leader Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur) in Baidoa in Bay region in south-central Somalia on March 29. Mukhtar Robow arrived in the area at the same time as the attempted VBIED attack. Robow defected to the Somali Federal Government on August 13, 2017. Robow’s defection prompted some al Shabaab militants to follow suite, al Shabaab declared Robow an apostate in January 2018.[6]

U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter to be the next U.S ambassador to Kenya on March 28. Senator McCarter will replace Ambassador Robert Godec if confirmed. Godec’s tour of duty expired after six years in Kenya. McCarter founded the Each One Feed One International charity in Kenya and served as the charity’s director from 1984-1989. McCarter has served as Illinois state senator since 2009, but did not seek re-election last year. Republican members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation recommended McCarter for the position in March 2017. McCarter’s confirmation hearing will occur within the next few weeks.[7]

[1] “Turki al Maliki claims that al Houthi ballistic missiles originate in Beirut, Lebanon,” CNN, March 29, 2018,; “Arab Coalition Spokesman: Hard evidence shows Iran providing supply of missiles to Al-Houthis,” SPA, March 29, 2018,; and “Arab Coalition Spokesman: Hard evidence shows Iran providing supply of missiles to Al-Houthis (pg. 2),” SPA, March 29, 2018,
[2] “President of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee meets the UN envoy to Yemen,” Saba News, March 29, 2018,; “Deputy Foreign Minister meets UN envoy to Yemen,” Saba News, March 29, 2018,; and “The head of the correction organization meets the UN envoy to Yemen,” Saba News, March 29, 2018,
[3] “Breaking: rocket force fires a ballistic missile at Aramco in Jizan,” Saba, March 29, 2018,; “Saudi air defenses destroy a ballistic missile launched by the al Houthi militias,” Saba New, March 29, 2018,; “Saudi Arabia intercepts a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis on Jizan,” Aden Lang, March 29, 2018,; and “Latest Houthi-launched ballistic missile towards Jazan successfully intercepted, Col. Malki announced,” SPA, March 30, 2018,    
[4] “Four al Qaeda militants killed in U.S. strike in Yemen: Pentagon,” Reuters, March 29, 2018,; “Drone strike on three from al Qaeda in al Sawma’ah district, al Bayda governorate,” Al Masdar, March 29, 2018,; and “Unmanned drone targets vehicle carrying al Qaeda members in al Bayda,” Aden Tomorrow, March 29, 2018,
[5] “Pro-AQ Telegram Channel Urges Muslims of East Africa to Participate in Jihad,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 28, 2018, available by subscription at; Ayman al Zawahiri calls on East Africans to join the jihad, Telegram, March 21, 2018.
[6] “Bomb Attack Thwarted As Ex Al-Shabaab Leader Robow Visits Baidoa,” Radio Dalsan, March 29, 2018,
[7] “President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts,” White House, March 28, 2018,; “Senator Kyle McCarter to replace Godec as US ambassador,” The Star, March 29, 2018,; “Trump picks McCarter to replace Godec as US ambassador to Kenya,” Standard Media, March 29, 2018,; and “Trump intends to replace Robert Godec with Kyle McCarter,” Daily Nation, March 29, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Apr '18
Mar '18