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 movement agree to open road linking al Hudaydah city to Sana’a; President Hadi instructs government to pay civil servant salaries in al Hudaydah; southern secessionists meet with Russian ambassador to Yemen; Hadi government al Jawf governor announces new offensive in al Jawf; Emirati-backed forces search for AQAP militants in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab abducts 30 people in Ceel-Muluq, Middle Shabelle region for supporting rival militia; likely al Shabaab IED targets residence in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; Eritrea closes two border crossings from Ethiopia

Yemen Security Brief

Representatives from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and al Houthi movement agreed to open the road linking al Hudaydah city to the capital Sana’a on December 28, according to al Hadath news. The representatives from both parties will hold additional talks on how to reopen the road with the head of the UN monitoring team, Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, in al Hudaydah on December 28.[1]

President Hadi instructed his government to pay salaries of civil servants in al Hudaydah governorate on December 28. The Hadi government has been unable to pay the majority of government salaries in territory under its control for over two years.[2]

The Russian ambassador to Yemen, Vladimir Dedushkin, met with representatives from the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) to discuss the importance of the southern issue throughout the Yemeni peace process on December 27.  Dedushkin stated that the STC should participate in the process and the STC representatives stated that any agreement made without their involvement would fail.[3]

President Hadi’s al Jawf Governor, Major General Amin al Akimi, announced the start of a new offensive to seize complete control of Khab wa al Shaaf district in northern al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen from al Houthi control on December 27. Hadi government forces control the main road in Khab wa al Shaaf that connects to the Saudi border in Sa’ada governorate and leads to Sana’a governorate.  Hadi government forces have been unable to advance west of the road since securing it in January 2018.[4]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces conducted a clearing operation in search of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Mahfad district, northwestern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 27. Deputy Commander of al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan Abdul Rahman al Shanini led the operation. AQAP militants conducted improvised explosive device attacks targeting al Hizam Security Forces in al Mahfad on December 20 and 26.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab abducted 30 people in Ceel-Muluq near Adale, Middle Shabelle region, Somalia on December 27. Al Shabaab retaliated against residents for supporting the self-organized Ma’awisley militia. The Somali National Army (SNA) has stated its support for the Ma’awisley to combat al Shabaab in Middle Shabelle region.[6]

A likely al Shabaab improvised explosive device (IED) attack targeted a residence in eastern Beledweyne, Hiraan region, Somalia on December 28. Reports identified the residence as belonging to either former police chief General Mukhtar Hussein Afrah or former Hiraan governor Omar Ibrahim Badiyow. Casualties were reported but neither former official was present during the explosion.[7]

Eritrea closed two border crossings from Ethiopia on December 26. The border opened in September after the two nations restored their relations in June. The border had been closed for two decades since the border war in 1998-2000. Eritrea has not yet explained the reason behind the decision.[8]

[1] “Agreement reached on opening road connecting Yemen’s Sanaa with Hodeidah, Taiz,” Al Arabiya, December 28, 2018,

[2] “President of the Republic during his meeting with members of parliament directed the government to pay salaries of the administrative system in al Hudaydah,” Saba New, December 28, 2018,

[3] “Important meeting between the leaders of the STC and Russian Ambassador to Yemen,” Aden Lang, December 27, 2018,

[4] “A new military operation to liberate the rest of Khab wa al Shaaf district in al Jawf,” Saba New, December 27, 2018,

[5] Abyan: Al Hizam forces and rapid intervention carried out a security campaign in Mahfad,” Aden Lang, December 27, 2018,

[6] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 27, 2018,; “Alshabaab Abducts 30 People Near Adale,” Radio Dalsan, December 27, 2018,; “Somali Federal government to back self-organised militias to fight Al-Shabaab,” Halbeeg, October 3, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 21, 2018,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 28, 2018,; Somalia Live update, Twitter, December 28, 2018,; Halbeeg, Twitter,; and  “Beledweyne Explosion Targets Former Police Commissioner,” Radio Dalsan, December 28, 2018,

[8] Elias Meseret, “Eritrea closes border crossings to Ethiopian travelers,” Associated Press, December 28, 2018,

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