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.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: UN Special Envoy proposes UN control of al Hudaydah governorate; AQAP attacks Emirati-backed forces in Abyan governorate; AP report highlights torture in al Houthi prisons

Horn of Africa: Somali MPs file motion to impeach President Farmajo; AFRICOM airstrike kills four al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; Galmudug security forces arrest over 50 people in Galgudud region; al Shabaab IED kills three SNA soldiers in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths proposed a ceasefire and demilitarization of al Hudaydah governorate during UN-led peace consultations in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10. Griffiths also called for the formation of a joint al Houthi-Hadi government security committee to oversee al Hudaydah governorate with UN support. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Foreign Minister, Khalid al Yamani, stated that the Hadi government will not accept a UN peacekeeping mission in al Hudaydah governorate. Al Yamani stated that the Hadi government is willing to accept a UN role in al Hudaydah as long as the city remains under Hadi government control.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to kill and injure several Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 9. AQAP claimed to destroy two vehicles in the attack.[2]

Al Houthi forces detained and tortured thousands of perceived political opponents, activists, journalists, and religious authorities, according to a December 7 Associated Press (AP) report. Yahia al Houthi, the brother of al Houthi movement leader Abdul Malik al Houthi, led a committee to investigate reports of torture and indefinite detention in 2016 but hardline al Houthi security officials closed the committee. Supreme Revolutionary Council head Mohammed Ali al Houthi called for an investigation into the use of torture on December 9 in response to the AP report.[3]

 Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ninety-two members of Somalia’s Parliament filed a motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on December 9. The motion alleged that Farmajo had made secret agreements with Ethiopia and Eritrea, illegally extradited alleged criminals, and violated Somalia’s constitution. A successful impeachment would require support from two-thirds of the 275-person parliament. Supporters of President Farmajo protested the motion for impeachment in Mogadishu on December 10. Two deputy speakers of Parliament publicly stated that the motion against Farmajo is unconstitutional.[4]

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike that killed four al Shabaab militants in Basra village, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 8.  AFRICOM conducted the airstrike after al Shabaab attacked Somali National Army (SNA) forces. Somali forces separately killed six al Shabaab militants in the operation.[5]

Galmudug state security forces arrested at least 52 people in Dhusamareb, Galgudud region, central Somalia on December 8 in a security operation. Galmudug forces did not give a reason for the arrests.[6]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an SNA convoy in Sinka Dheer area, Mogadishu on December 9. The attack killed three soldiers.[7]


[1] “The delegation of the Government of Yemen has reservations on the initiative of the UN Special Envoy in the matter of al Hudaydah and its port,” Youm7, December 10, 2018, https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/12/10/%D9%88%D9%81%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%81%D8%B8-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AB-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A8%D8%B4%D8%A3%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A9/4062507; Baseem al Jenani, Twitter, December 10, 2018, https://twitter.com/baseem_aljenani/status/1072087472958529538; and Baseem al Jenani, Twitter, December 10, 2018, https://twitter.com/baseem_aljenani/status/1072106541526990851.

[2] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, December 10, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1072083724777459712.

[3]  “Ex-inmates: Torture rife in prisons run by Yemen rebels,” Associated Press, December 7, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/e32442a4c8c24acd9d362c433d5cd10e; and Ahmed al Haj, “Yemen rebel leader seeks torture probe, cites AP report,” Associated Press, December 9, 2018, https://apnews.com/018c72608a674d7a8ba2f19b88fd5b10?utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=AP.

[4] “Motion filed to impeach Somali president: Statement,” Reuters, December 10, 2018, https://www.straitstimes.com/world/africa/motion-filed-to-impeach-somali-president-statement; and “Mogadishu residents rally against impeachment motion against Farmajo,” Radio Shabelle, December 10, 2018, https://www.radioshabelle.com/mogadishu-residents-rally-against-impeachment-motion-against-farmajo/.    

[5] “Al-Shabaab Forces degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia,” United States Africa Command, December 8, 2018, https://www.africom.mil/media-room/pressrelease/31420/al-shabaab-forces-degraded-by-u-s-federal-government-of-somalia; “Six Al-Shabaab Militants Killed in SNA Operation in Lower Shabelle Region,” Radio Shabelle, December 9, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/six-al-shabaab-militants-killed-in-sna-operation-in-lower-shabelle-region/; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 9, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1071818581124530178.

[6] “Galmudug state forces conduct security operation in Dhusamareb,” Radio Shabelle, December 8, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/galmudug-state-forces-conduct-security-operation-in-dhusamareb/

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 9, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1071752408563367936

View Citations

Yemen: Al Houthi delegation suggests demilitarization of al Hudaydah port at UN-led consultations; Hadi delegation announces readiness to begin confidence-building measures; Hadi delegation proposes reopening Sana’a International Airport; AQAP denounces ISIS Wilayat al Bayda in new video

Horn of Africa: SFG representatives arrive in Kismayo for mediation with Jubbaland; SFG security forces conduct arrests in Baidoa ahead of Southwest state elections; AMISOM approves new transition document; NISA agents capture two al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; Ethiopian authorities discover illegal military camps in Amhara region  

Yemen Security Brief

The head al Houthi movement delegate to UN-led peace consultations in Stockholm, Mohammed Abdul Salam, called for the demilitarization of al Hudaydah port on December 7. Salam reiterated that any transitional phase for Yemen must begin with holding elections and forming a government, followed by the disarmament of all parties.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegate at UN-led consultations, Assistant Secretary of the Yemeni Popular Nasserist Party Rana Ghanem, asserted on December 7 that the Hadi government’s top priority is to begin implementing confidence-building measures, including the release of prisoners and facilitating the unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid.[2]

The Hadi government delegation proposed the reopening of Sana’a International Airport on December 7 on the condition that all planes are first inspected in the Hadi government-controlled Aden or Sayun airports. The al Houthi delegation rejected the proposal.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posted a video on December 5 titled “Of Their Crimes,” which denounces the actions of ISIS Wilayat al Bayda. The video features an interview with a man who states that ISIS Wilayat al Bayda arrested him and mistreated him during his imprisonment.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A delegation from the Somali Federal Government (SFG) arrived in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on December 6 to begin mediation talks with Jubbaland state President Ahmed Madobe. The delegation was led by the speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi. Somalia’s five Federal Member States, including Jubbaland, broke ties with the SFG in September, blaming the SFG for meddling in member state affairs and unevenly distributing national resources.[5]

Factions supporting rival candidates in the upcoming Southwest state elections attacked each other with grenades in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia in recent days. SFG security forces conducted a security sweep of the town on December 6 in response, arresting multiple individuals. Southwest state will hold its election on December 19 after having delayed the election three times. Former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, is a leading candidate.[6]

The military chiefs of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop-contributing countries approved a plan for AMISOM operations from 2018 to 2021 on December 2. The framework covers the final stage of AMISOM’s efforts in Somalia and establishes an exit plan. AMISOM chiefs encouraged the Somali government to begin generating the necessary forces to assume all security roles in Somalia.[7]

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) raided al Shabaab Hisbah offices in Sabiid Anole, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 7. NISA agents captured two al Shabaab militants and recovered explosives.[8]

Ethiopian authorities discovered three illegal military camps in Amhara region northern Ethiopia, that they said were part of a plot to stoke unrest in the state. Brigadier General Asamnew Tsege claimed on December 6 that the operators of the camps had exploited the grievances of the ethnic Kimant minority to destabilize Amhara region over the past four years. Tsege did not name the operators of the camp, but sources blamed the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs neighboring Tigray region. Hundreds of Tigrayan and Kimant fled Amhara region in November after attacks by ethnic Amhara youth.[9]


[1] Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018, https://twitter.com/AJABreaking/status/1071050303540125696; Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018, https://twitter.com/AJABreaking/status/1071049292872265729; and Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018, https://twitter.com/AJABreaking/status/1071048663655309312.

[2] “Hadi government delegate at the UN-led consultations: The details of the first round,” Suhail, December 7, 2018, http://suhail.net/news_details.php?sid=7980.

[3] “Yemen government proposes reopening of Sana’a airport in peace talks,” Reuters, December 7, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/yemen-government-proposes-re-opening-of-sanaa-airport-in-peace-talks-idUSKBN1O61FE.

[4] “New message from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: of their crimes,” Jihadology, December 5, 2018, https://jihadology.net/2018/12/05/new-video-message-from-al-qaidah-in-the-arabian-peninsula-of-their-crimes/.

[5] “Senate speaker lands in Kismayo for talks,” Garowe, December 6, 2018, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-senate-delegation-arrives-in-kismayo-for-talks.

[6] “Somali troops launch massive sweep in Baidoa ahead of election,” Radio Shabelle, December 6, 2018, http://radioshabelle.com/somali-troops-launch-massive-sweep-in-baidoa-ahead-of-election/; and “Profile: Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansour),” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 14, 2011, https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/profile-sheikh-mukhtar-robow-abu-mansur.

[7] “Military chiefs approve framework for exit of AU troops from Somalia,” Vanguard, December 6, 2018, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/12/military-chiefs-approve-framework-for-exit-of-au-troops-from-somalia/

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 7, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1071017019183640581

[9] “Ethiopia: Three illegal military training facilities found in Amhara region,” ESAT, December 6, 2018, https://ethsat.com/2018/12/ethiopia-three-illegal-military-training-facilities-found-in-amhara-region/; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 13, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 13, 2018, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-november-13-2018.

View Citations

Yemen: UN-led peace consultations begin in Sweden; World Food Programme reports on pockets of famine-like conditions in Yemen; Hadhrami Elite Forces arrest nine AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP IED targets al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims to kill al Houthi soldier in al Bayda governorate; al Houthi fighters claim to fire six ballistic missiles at Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED kills SNA division commander in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting SNA and AMISOM forces in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants attack Jubbaland security forces base in Gedo region; Somali parliamentarians file motion criticizing President Farmajo for agreements with Ethiopia and Eritrea; suspected Salafi-jihadi militants attack two villages in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique

Yemen Security Brief

UN-led peace consultations between the al Houthi movement and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government began in Stockholm, Sweden on December 6. Chairman of the al Houthi Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi threatened to close Sana’a International Airport to all UN planes if the airport is not reopened for commercial traffic as a result of the consultations. The Hadi government demanded that al Houthi fighters withdraw from al Hudaydah governorate and transfer resources from al Hudaydah port to the Central Bank of Aden.[1]

The World Food Programme (WFP) declared on December 6 that pockets of famine-like conditions exist in Yemen. The WFP report stated that 240,000 people are living in famine-like conditions and over 70% of the population is experiencing emergency- or crisis- levels of food insecurity. An estimated 85,000 children have died due to extreme hunger during the course of the current Yemen conflict.[2]

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces arrested nine suspected members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yab’uth district, southwestern Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on November 30. The arrests are part of Operation Iron Fist, which Emirati-backed forces launched on November 28 to secure coastal areas in western Hadramawt governorate.[3]

AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Hizam Security Forces vehicle in al Mahfad district, northeastern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 3. There were no casualties.[4]

ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claimed to kill an al Houthi soldier in Za’ij area, Wald Rabi district, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 5.[5]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire six Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Saudi military targets in Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia on December 6.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy in Dhanaane, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 6. The attack killed seven SNA soldiers, including the commander of the 12th April Division, General Omar Aden Dhabad “Omar Dhere,” and his deputy. Al Shabaab claimed the attack.[7]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers in Yaqshid district, Mogadishu on December 5. The attack killed and injured multiple soldiers.[8]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Jubbaland security forces base in Beled Hawo town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on December 6. The militants killed at least five soldiers and stole weapons.[9]

Ten Somali federal parliamentarians introduced a motion on December 5 criticizing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for his recent agreements to normalize relations and increase cooperation with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia signed a tripartite agreement to boost peace and development in the Horn of Africa during a summit in Asmara, Eritrea on September 5.[10]

Suspected Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a militants attacked two villages in Nangade district, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique on December 1. The attacks killed five villagers, including one district official. Suspected Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a militants previously attacked Nangade district on November 23, killing 12 people. Mozambican authorities have committed serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, in their crackdown on Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a in Cabo Delgado, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report. Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a is a Salafi-jihadi group operating in northern Mozambique. It is not affiliated with the Somali paramilitary group of the same name.[11]

 


[1] “Yemen war: ‘Milestone’ peace talks begin in Sweden,” BBC News, December 6, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46462255; Mohammed Ali al Houthi, Twitter, December 6, 2018, https://twitter.com/Moh_Alhouthi/status/1070570488886423553; Hadi government 4-point initiative for peace talks, Telegram, December 6, 2018; and Yemen Mofa, Twitter, December 6, 2018, https://twitter.com/yemen_mofa/status/1070591139374342144.

[2] “Almost Four Years of Conflict Leads to Declaration of Catastrophic Food Security Conditions in Yemen,” Care, December 6, 2018, https://www.care.org/newsroom/press/press-releases/almost-four-years-conflict-leads-to-declaration-catastrophic-food; Robbie Gramer and Colum Lynch, “U.N. Body Declares Famine Conditions in Parts of Yemen,” Foreign Policy, December 5, 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/05/united-nations-world-food-program-body-declares-famine-conditions-in-parts-of-yemen-conflict-humanitarian-crisis-middle-east-congress-trump-saudi-arabia-mohammed-bin-salman-jamal-khashoggi-pressure-en/; and “Yemen: 85,000 children may have died from starvation since start of war,” Save the Children, November 21, 2018, https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/news/media-centre/press-releases/yemen--85-000-children-may-have-died-from-starvation-since-start.

[3] “Yemeni Army Arrests Nine al Qaeda Members in Hadramawt,” The Yemen Net, November 30, 2018, https://theyemen.net/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A8%D8%B6-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AF/.

[4] “Terrorists detonated a landmine targeting the al Hizam security belt in al Mahfad,” al Mashad al Araby, December 3, 2018, http://www.almashhadalaraby.com/news/54546.

[5] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, December 5, 2018, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/1070417264128782338.

[6] Al Masirah TV, Twitter, December 6, 2018, https://twitter.com/MasirahTV/status/1070698382547656706.

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 6, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1070684514521878529; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 6, 2018, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/1070673720954535936; and “Shabaab claims killing military commanders in Mogadishu, thwarting U.S. special forces raid in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 6, 2018, English translation available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.

[8] “AU forces hit by roadside explosion in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, December 5, 2018, https://mareeg.com/somalia-au-forces-hit-by-explosion-in-mogadishu/.

[9] “Five killed in al Shabaab attack near border town,” Mareeg, December 6, 2018, https://mareeg.com/somalia-five-killed-in-al-shabaab-attack-near-kenyan-border-town/.

[10] “Somali lawmakers form motion against President Farmajo’s deals with Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Mareeg, December 5, 2018, https://mareeg.com/somali-lawmakers-form-motion-against-president-farmajos-deals-with-ethiopia-and-eritrea/; and Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia pact boost for regional peace, debt: EU,” Africa News, September 6, 2018, http://www.africanews.com/2018/09/06/ethiopia-eritrea-somalia-pact-boost-for-regional-peace-devt-eu//.

[11] “Mozambique: Two more Cabo Delgado villages attacked,” All Africa, December 4, 2018, https://allafrica.com/stories/201812050490.html; “Suspected militant attack kills 12 in north Mozambique,” Agence France Presse, November 25, 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/suspected-militant-attack-kills-12-in-north-mozambique/4673074.html; and “Mozambique anti-jihadist forces involved in rights abuses: HRW,” Agence France Presse, December 4, 2018, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/mozambique-anti-jihadist-forces-involved-in-rights-abuses-hrw-20181204.

 
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