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: Hadi government and al Houthi delegations present lists for prisoner exchange; UN Special Envoy to Yemen reports progress in UN-led consultations; Iranian president and foreign minister express support for UN-led consultations; President Hadi returns to Saudi Arabia following medical treatment in the U.S.

Horn of Africa: Kenyan police arrest suspect in kidnapping of Italian aid worker; SFG security forces clash with anti-Farmajo protestors in Baidoa; Puntland Security Forces officer attempts to assassinate radio journalist in Boosaaso

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement presented their demands for prisoner exchanges during UN-led consultations in Stockholm, Sweden on December 11. The two sides demanded the release of 15,000 prisoners in total. The includes members of the Bahai sect and relatives of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[1]

The Hadi government and al Houthi delegations discussed the re-opening of Sana’a airport, de-escalation measures in Taiz and al Hudaydah cities, and the implementation of prisoner exchanges during UN-led consultations, according to UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. Griffiths stated that the UN will announce tangible agreements by the end of the current round of consultations. Griffiths stated that he hopes to secure an agreement from both parties to participate in another round of consultations in early 2019.[2]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed support for the UN-led consultations in Stockholm on December 11.[3]

President Hadi arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 11 after undergoing six weeks of medical treatment in the U.S.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan police arrested one of three suspects in last month’s abduction of an Italian aid worker in southeastern Kenya. Police arrested Ibrahim Adan Omar in Bangale district, Tana River County, eastern Kenya on December 9. Locals speculated that al Shabaab kidnapped the Italian aid worker in Kilifi County, southeastern Kenya on November 20, but no group has claimed responsibility.[5]

Somali Federal Government (SFG) security forces injured three people after firing on protestors in Baidoa town, Bay region, southern Somalia on December 11. Supporters of SFG Lower House Speaker Mohamed Mursal, who is from the Baidoa area, took to the streets to protest against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Dozens of Somali parliamentarians filed a motion to impeach Farmajo on December 9.[6]

A Puntland Security Forces officer attempted to assassinate a radio journalist in Boosaaso, Puntland on December 9. The journalist escaped unharmed. The journalist accused the chief of the Puntland Security Forces, Asad Osman, of ordering the assassination in response to the journalist’s critical coverage of Osman. Osman is running for Puntland administration president in January 2019.[7]

[1] “Hadi government presents list of 8,200 of prisoners it wants al Houthis to release,” Saba New, December 11, 2018,; “Al Houthi delegation exchange list of prisoners with Hadi government delegation,” Al Masirah, December 11, 2018,; and “Yemen’s warring parties exchange prisoner lists, talks focus on Hodeidah,” Reuters, December 11, 2018,

[2] “Martin Griffiths reports progress in the Sweden consultations,” OSESGY, December 11, 2018,; and “UN envoy to Yemen says agreement on de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah ‘not there yet’,” Arab News, December 10, 2018,  

[3] “Iran’s Rouhani voices support for intra-Yemeni peace talks,” Press TV, December 11, 2018,; and “First official response from Iran after one hour of the announcement of prisoners exchange agreement,”  Al Mashhad, December 11, 2018,

[4] “President Hadi arrives to Saudi Arabia,” Saba New, December 11, 2018,

[5] “Police in Tana River arrest suspect in Italian’s abduction,” The Nation, December 11, 2018,; and Michael Musyoka, “Suspected al Shabaab raid children’s home, kidnap Italian tourist in Malindi,” November 21, 2018,

[6] “Two people injured in anti-Farmaajo protests in Baidoa,” Goobjoog, December 11, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 11, 2018,

[7] “Somalia: Radio director escapes assassination attempt in Puntland,” Garowe, November 10, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Jan '19
Dec '18
Nov '18