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: UN Security Council adopts new resolution on Yemen; Hadi government and al Houthi movement accuse each other of al Hudaydah ceasefire violations; al Houthi forces counterattack in Ma’rib governorate; Islamic State claims attack targeting AQAP in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Djiboutian police arrest AQAP member linked to Charlie Hebdo attack in Djibouti; SFG parliamentarians withdraw impeachment motion against President Farmajo; SNA reiterates support for militias fighting al Shabaab in Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab claims to kill and wound 40 Ethiopian soldiers with IED in Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 2451 calling for a ceasefire in al Hudaydah on December 21. The U.S. and Kuwait initially opposed sections of the original draft resolution presented by the UK on December 17. The resolution also authorizes the UN Secretary-General to deploy a monitoring team to Yemen to ensure the implementation of the agreements from the UN-led consultations in Sweden.[1] 

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government accused al Houthi forces of breaking the ceasefire in al Hudaydah governorate on December 20 and 21. Al Houthi forces shelled multiple locations in eastern al Hudaydah cityon December 20 and al Manzar village, south of al Hudaydah city, on December 21, according to Hadi government press releases. Emirati-backed Yemeni forces shelled al Houthi positions in eastern al Hudaydah city, according to an al Houthi press release.[2]

Al Houthi forces counterattacked against Hadi government forces on four fronts in Sirwah district, western Ma’rib governorate, northern Yemen on December 21. Al Houthi forces claimed to recapture mountain ranges and portions of roadways in the district that they had lost to Hadi government forces in 2016 and 2017.[3]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to kill an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militant in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 19. An Islamic State sniper shot an AQAP member in Z’aj area, northwestern al Bayda. The Islamic State in Yemen has claimed nine attacks on AQAP in al Bayda since it first clashed with the group in July 2018.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Djiboutian authorities arrested a French member of AQAP, Peter Cherif, in Djibouti on December 20. The U.S. labeled Cherif a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in September 2015 for his role in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Cherif is in French custody and will be extradited to France. Cherif invited the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attack to Yemen for militant training in 2011, according to French authorities. Cherif was last known to reside in Yemen.[5]

Somali Federal Government (SFG) parliamentarians withdrew their motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on December 20. The parliamentarians who had filed the motion issued a statement admitting that the motion was invalid.[6]

Somali National Army (SNA) General Mohamud Koronto reiterated the SNA’s support for militias known as Ma’awisley that are fighting al Shabaab in Middle Shabelle region on December 21. The SNA first announced support for Ma’awisley militias on October 3 after the militias organized in response to al Shabaab’s child recruitment campaigns and extortion.[7]

Al Shabaab claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an Ethiopian military truck in Yurkud village, Bay region, southern Somalia on December 21. Al Shabaab claimed to kill and wound 40 Ethiopian soldiers. The attack has not been confirmed.[8]

[1] “Security Council to Vote on Yemen Resolution,” What’s in Blue, December 21, 2018,; and “Foreign Secretary welcomes adoption of new UN Security Council resolution on Yemen peace process,” Gov.UK, December 21, 2018,
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[2] “Al Houthi militia breaks the truce with artillery and missile attacks, killing 4 and wounding 16 of the Giants Brigades,” Saba New, December 20, 2018,; “Al Houthi militia bombarded al Manzar district in al Hudaydah with artillery,” Saba New, December 21, 2018,; and “The mercenaries continue to breach the al Hudaydah ceasefire with airstrikes and raids in several governorates,” Saba News, December 21, 2018,

[3] “Armed Forces: More than 153 mercenaries were killed, wounded, and captured in a special operation in Sirwah,” Saba News, December 21, 2018,

[4] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, December 21, 2018,

[5] Saskya Vandoorne and Ashley Fantz, “Suspect linked to Charlie Hebdo attackers in French custody,” CNN, December 21, 2018,; Kim Willsher, “Charlie Hebdo suspect arrested in Djibouti,” The Guardian, December 21, 2018,; and “French jihadist Cherif arrested in Djibouti,” France 24, December 21, 2018,

[6] Mohamed Olad, “Somalia's Parliament Drops Impeachment of President,” Voice of America, December 21, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 20, 2018,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 21, 2018,; and “Somali Federal government to back self-organised militias to fight Al-Shabaab,” Halbeeg, October 3, 2018,

[8] “Shabaab claims 40 casualties among Ethiopian forces in bombing in Bay region,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 21, 2018, English translation available by subscription at

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