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-led peace consultations begin in Sweden; World Food Programme reports on pockets of famine-like conditions in Yemen; Hadhrami Elite Forces arrest nine AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP IED targets al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan governorate; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claims to kill al Houthi soldier in al Bayda governorate; al Houthi fighters claim to fire six ballistic missiles at Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab IED kills SNA division commander in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab detonates IED targeting SNA and AMISOM forces in Mogadishu; al Shabaab militants attack Jubbaland security forces base in Gedo region; Somali parliamentarians file motion criticizing President Farmajo for agreements with Ethiopia and Eritrea; suspected Salafi-jihadi militants attack two villages in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique

Yemen Security Brief

UN-led peace consultations between the al Houthi movement and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government began in Stockholm, Sweden on December 6. Chairman of the al Houthi Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al Houthi threatened to close Sana’a International Airport to all UN planes if the airport is not reopened for commercial traffic as a result of the consultations. The Hadi government demanded that al Houthi fighters withdraw from al Hudaydah governorate and transfer resources from al Hudaydah port to the Central Bank of Aden.[1]

The World Food Programme (WFP) declared on December 6 that pockets of famine-like conditions exist in Yemen. The WFP report stated that 240,000 people are living in famine-like conditions and over 70% of the population is experiencing emergency- or crisis- levels of food insecurity. An estimated 85,000 children have died due to extreme hunger during the course of the current Yemen conflict.[2]

Emirati-backed Hadhrami Elite Forces arrested nine suspected members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yab’uth district, southwestern Hadramawt governorate, eastern Yemen on November 30. The arrests are part of Operation Iron Fist, which Emirati-backed forces launched on November 28 to secure coastal areas in western Hadramawt governorate.[3]

AQAP militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Hizam Security Forces vehicle in al Mahfad district, northeastern Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on December 3. There were no casualties.[4]

ISIS Wilayat al Bayda claimed to kill an al Houthi soldier in Za’ij area, Wald Rabi district, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 5.[5]

Al Houthi forces claimed to fire six Zilzal 1 ballistic missiles at Saudi military targets in Jizan region, southern Saudi Arabia on December 6.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy in Dhanaane, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 6. The attack killed seven SNA soldiers, including the commander of the 12th April Division, General Omar Aden Dhabad “Omar Dhere,” and his deputy. Al Shabaab claimed the attack.[7]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting SNA and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers in Yaqshid district, Mogadishu on December 5. The attack killed and injured multiple soldiers.[8]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Jubbaland security forces base in Beled Hawo town, Gedo region, southern Somalia on December 6. The militants killed at least five soldiers and stole weapons.[9]

Ten Somali federal parliamentarians introduced a motion on December 5 criticizing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for his recent agreements to normalize relations and increase cooperation with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia signed a tripartite agreement to boost peace and development in the Horn of Africa during a summit in Asmara, Eritrea on September 5.[10]

Suspected Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a militants attacked two villages in Nangade district, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique on December 1. The attacks killed five villagers, including one district official. Suspected Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a militants previously attacked Nangade district on November 23, killing 12 people. Mozambican authorities have committed serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, in their crackdown on Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a in Cabo Delgado, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report. Ahlu Sunnah wa al Jama’a is a Salafi-jihadi group operating in northern Mozambique. It is not affiliated with the Somali paramilitary group of the same name.[11]


[1] “Yemen war: ‘Milestone’ peace talks begin in Sweden,” BBC News, December 6, 2018,; Mohammed Ali al Houthi, Twitter, December 6, 2018,; Hadi government 4-point initiative for peace talks, Telegram, December 6, 2018; and Yemen Mofa, Twitter, December 6, 2018,

[2] “Almost Four Years of Conflict Leads to Declaration of Catastrophic Food Security Conditions in Yemen,” Care, December 6, 2018,; Robbie Gramer and Colum Lynch, “U.N. Body Declares Famine Conditions in Parts of Yemen,” Foreign Policy, December 5, 2018,; and “Yemen: 85,000 children may have died from starvation since start of war,” Save the Children, November 21, 2018,

[3] “Yemeni Army Arrests Nine al Qaeda Members in Hadramawt,” The Yemen Net, November 30, 2018,

[4] “Terrorists detonated a landmine targeting the al Hizam security belt in al Mahfad,” al Mashad al Araby, December 3, 2018,

[5] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, December 5, 2018,

[6] Al Masirah TV, Twitter, December 6, 2018,

[7] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 6, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 6, 2018,; and “Shabaab claims killing military commanders in Mogadishu, thwarting U.S. special forces raid in Lower Shabelle,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 6, 2018, English translation available by subscription at

[8] “AU forces hit by roadside explosion in Mogadishu,” Mareeg, December 5, 2018,

[9] “Five killed in al Shabaab attack near border town,” Mareeg, December 6, 2018,

[10] “Somali lawmakers form motion against President Farmajo’s deals with Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Mareeg, December 5, 2018,; and Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia pact boost for regional peace, debt: EU,” Africa News, September 6, 2018,

[11] “Mozambique: Two more Cabo Delgado villages attacked,” All Africa, December 4, 2018,; “Suspected militant attack kills 12 in north Mozambique,” Agence France Presse, November 25, 2018,; and “Mozambique anti-jihadist forces involved in rights abuses: HRW,” Agence France Presse, December 4, 2018,

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