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 agree to UN-mediated ceasefire in al Hudaydah; al Hizam security force kills two AQAP commanders in Abyan governorate; House amendment blocks Senate resolution to vote on withdrawing U.S. support from the Saudi-led coalition; Saudi-led coalition intercepts two al Houthi ballistic missiles

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian forces arrest former deputy al Shabaab leader; Eritrean president makes first visit to Somalia; Garissa County 600 police reservists to combat al Shabaab along Somali border

Yemen Security Brief

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement agreed to a ceasefire and phased withdrawal of all forces from al Hudaydah port and city in western Yemen on December 13. The UN will play a leading role in supporting the port’s management and operation. Both parties agreed on points that will lead to the formation of a humanitarian corridor to Taiz city, southwestern Yemen. Both parties also agreed to engage in consultations in January to establish a framework for future talks. The parties did not reach an agreement on reopening Sana’a International Airport despite earlier reports that they had done so.[1]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces killed two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commanders in Mudia district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 11, according to an Emirati news source. The al Hizam Security Forces began Operation Crushing Revenge on December 9.[2]

The U.S. Senate voted to advance a resolution to enact the War Powers Resolution to withdraw U.S. support from the Saudi-led coalition on December 12. The U.S. House of Representatives effectively blocked the Senate resolution on December 12 by passing an amendment that bars the current Congress from voting on any resolution that would enact the War Powers Resolution with regards to Yemen. The House would need to vote on the Senate resolution before the end of 2018 in order for it to succeed. President Donald J. Trump has already indicated he would veto the bill.[3]

Saudi-led coalition air defense systems intercepted two al Houthi ballistic missiles targeting Marib governorate, central Yemen on December 13.[4]

EDITOR'S NOTE: CORRECTIONA previous version of this Security Review reported an incident in which al Shabaab executed a fighter for ISIS sympathies. The incident was old and was previously reported in the November 13, 2018 Security Review, so it has been removed.Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) arrested former deputy al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on December 13. Ethiopian forces tortured Robow and took him to Mogadishu, according to unconfirmed reports. Robow’s supporters violently protested his arrest and local authorities shut off telecommunications in Baidoa. The Somali Federal Government’s (SFG) Security Ministry accused Robow of smuggling weapons into Baidoa and mobilizing militias. Mukhtar Robow is running for president of Somalia’s South West State, despite SFG efforts to bar him. The South West State electoral committee announced that elections are still scheduled for December 19.[5]

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visited Mogadishu to meet with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on December 13. This is Afwerki’s first visit to Somalia. The visit is part of the recent tripartite summits between Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, according to the Eritrean Minister of Information. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is not in Mogadishu, however.[6]

The Commissioner of Garissa County in eastern Kenya announced the recruitment of 600 new police reservists to fight al Shabaab on December 12. The reservists will be stationed along the Somali border to support Kenyan security forces. The police will deploy 30 reservists to every village affected by al Shabaab operations. [8]

[1] “The end of the UN-led consultations and an agreement on al Hudaydah and Taiz,” Al Arabiya, December 13, 2018,; “Yemen’s warring sides reach Hodeidah ceasefire,” Al Jazeera, December 13, 2018,; AFP, Twitter, December 13, 2018,; “UN: al Hudaydah agreement was one of the most difficult things we faced,” Al Watan, December 13, 2018,; “Yemen dialogue in Sweden concludes,” SVT, December 13, 2018,; and “Full text of the Stockholm agreement,” OSESGY, December 13, 2018,

[2] “Al Qaeda commanders killed in clashes with UAE-backed forces in Yemen,” The National, December 12, 2018,; and “Two AQAP leaders killed in clashes with al Hizam security forces,” Sahafah net, December 11, 2018,

[3] “Senate to vote on Yemen amid growing skepticism over U.S.-Saudi alliance,” The Guardian, December 12, 2018,; “House GOP blocks lawmakers from forcing Yemen war votes for rest of year,” Politico, December 12, 2018,; and “Senate set to buck Trump on Saudi Arabia,” Politico, December 12, 2018,

[4] “Saudi-led coalition intercept two ballistic missiles supposed to target Marib,” News Yemen, December 13, 2018,

[5] “Ethiopian troops arrested Somali regional election candidate, Mukhtar Robow,” Radio Kulmiye, December 13, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 13, 2018,; “Mukhtar Robow seized by Ethiopian forces in Baidoa,” Goobjoog, December 13, 2018,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 13, 2018,; and “Abu Mansur has been arrested in Baidoa”, Mustaqbal radio, December 13, 2018,

[6] “Eritrean leader pays first visit to Somalia, seeking closer ties,” Reuters,, December 13, 2018; Yemane Meskel, Twitter,, December 13, 2018; and “Eritrea president in Somalia for official visit, will proceed to Kenya,” Africa news,, December 13, 2018.

[7] “Al Shabaab kill own fighter for allegedly having links with the Islamic State Somalia”, Intelligence briefs,, December 13, 2018.

[8] “600 more police reservists recruited to fight al Shabaab,”,, December 13, 2018.

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