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: Al Hudaydah ceasefire takes effect amid clashes; Sudanese Army Chief of Staff says deployment to Yemen will continue and could double; Hadi government Vice President meets with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh; Hadi government Foreign Minister meets with Chinese ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missiles at Jizan, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian troops kill civilians during militia negotiations near Kenyan border; Somali Prime Minister and Lower House Speaker discuss impeachment crisis and South West elections; Puntland President announces reelection bid; Jubbaland President seeks reelection support from officials and clan elders in eastern Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi fighters and Emirati-backed Yemeni forces clashed east of al Hudaydah city, western Yemen minutes after a UN-sponsored ceasefire took effect on December 18, according to an official in President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.  A Hadi government representative stated that the clashes ended early in the morning on December 18. The ceasefire officially took effect at midnight local time on December 18.[1]

Sudanese Army Chief of Staff Kamal Abdel Ma’arouf stated on December 18 that Sudanese forces will remain in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition. Ma’arouf suggested that the number of Sudanese forces in Yemen could double.[2]

President Hadi’s Vice President, General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 18. Tueller met with President Hadi in Riyadh on December 17.[3]

President Hadi’s Foreign Minister, Khalid al Yamani, met with Chinese Ambassador to Yemen Kang Yong in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 18. Yong reiterated China’s support for the Hadi government and ongoing peace efforts.[4]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire four Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles towards Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia on December 17. The strikes have not been confirmed.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian soldiers killed at least 12 civilians in a hotel in Moyale, a southern Ethiopian town on the Kenyan border, on December 17. The Ethiopian Army was holding talks with ethnic Oromo and Somali militias when the shooting occurred. The Oromia and Somali regional governments had agreed to hand over administration of Moyale, which straddles both regions, to the army in order to prevent further clashes between Oromo and Somali militias. Militia clashes killed at least 21 people and wounded at least 61 others last week. The clashes involved heavy artillery and forced hundreds of Moyale residents to flee to Kenya.[6]

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and Speaker of the Lower House Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman met in Mogadishu on December 17 to discuss recent political developments. The two were expected to discuss the recent arrest of former deputy al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow as well as the upcoming South West State presidential election. Mursal has called for Robow’s unconditional release and the postponement of South West State elections in order to allow Robow to run. Mursal is also leading an impeachment motion against Somali Federal Government President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.[7]

Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” announced that he will run for reelection on December 18. Puntland will hold elections on January 8, 2019. More than 20 candidates oppose the incumbent.[8]

Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe held a secret meeting with senior politicians and elders in Garissa County, eastern Kenya to discuss the upcoming Jubbaland elections on December 16. Madobe held the meeting in order to lobby for the support of his Ogaden clan, which has a large population in eastern Kenya. Jubbaland will hold elections in January 2019.[9]

[1] “Yemen clashes: Ceasefire broken in minutes in al Hudaydah,” Sky News, December 18, 2018,; “Social media platforms reports truce violations in al Hudaydah,” Alaraby, December 18, 2018,; and “Yemen warring parties say port city ceasefire starts on Tuesday,” Reuters, December 18, 2018,

[2] “Sudanese army chief of staff: our forces will remain in the Saudi-led coalition and could double,” Gulf 365, December 18, 2018,

[3] “Hadi’s Vice President meets with U.S. ambassador to Yemen,” Saba New, December 18, 2018,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review - December 17, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, December 17, 2018,

[4] “Hadi’s Foreign Minister meets with China’s ambassador to Yemen ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation between both countries,” Saba New, December 18, 2018,

[5] “Four ballistic missiles targeted mercenaries in Jizan,” Al Masirah, December 17, 2018,

[6] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ethiopia army op kills civilians in Moyale hotel, violence persists,” Africa News, December 17, 2018,; “At least a dozen civilians killed by army inside Bekele Molla Hotel in Moyale,” Addis Standard, December 17, 2018,; Dawit Endeshaw, “Moyale sees another conflict, claims lives,” The Reporter, December 15, 2018,; and “Ethnic violence in southern Ethiopia kills 21, wounds 61,” Reuters, December 15, 2018,

[7] “PM Kheire crucial meeting with lower House speaker Mursal,” Goobjoog, December 18, 2018,; and “ Somalia: PM appoints new public works minister,” Garowe, December 17, 2018,

[8] “Puntland’s incumbent president announces he is running for reelection,” Radio Shabelle, December 18, 2018,

[9] Adbimalik Hajir, “Jubbaland’s Ahmed Madobe holds secret meeting with Garissa leaders,” Daily Nation, December 17, 2018,; and “Jubaland’s Ahmed Madobe holds a secret meeting with Garissa leaders,” Goobjoog, December 18, 2018,

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