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 Houthi delegation suggests demilitarization of al Hudaydah port at UN-led consultations; Hadi delegation announces readiness to begin confidence-building measures; Hadi delegation proposes reopening Sana’a International Airport; AQAP denounces ISIS Wilayat al Bayda in new video

Horn of Africa: SFG representatives arrive in Kismayo for mediation with Jubbaland; SFG security forces conduct arrests in Baidoa ahead of Southwest state elections; AMISOM approves new transition document; NISA agents capture two al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; Ethiopian authorities discover illegal military camps in Amhara region  

Yemen Security Brief

The head al Houthi movement delegate to UN-led peace consultations in Stockholm, Mohammed Abdul Salam, called for the demilitarization of al Hudaydah port on December 7. Salam reiterated that any transitional phase for Yemen must begin with holding elections and forming a government, followed by the disarmament of all parties.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegate at UN-led consultations, Assistant Secretary of the Yemeni Popular Nasserist Party Rana Ghanem, asserted on December 7 that the Hadi government’s top priority is to begin implementing confidence-building measures, including the release of prisoners and facilitating the unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid.[2]

The Hadi government delegation proposed the reopening of Sana’a International Airport on December 7 on the condition that all planes are first inspected in the Hadi government-controlled Aden or Sayun airports. The al Houthi delegation rejected the proposal.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posted a video on December 5 titled “Of Their Crimes,” which denounces the actions of ISIS Wilayat al Bayda. The video features an interview with a man who states that ISIS Wilayat al Bayda arrested him and mistreated him during his imprisonment.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A delegation from the Somali Federal Government (SFG) arrived in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on December 6 to begin mediation talks with Jubbaland state President Ahmed Madobe. The delegation was led by the speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi. Somalia’s five Federal Member States, including Jubbaland, broke ties with the SFG in September, blaming the SFG for meddling in member state affairs and unevenly distributing national resources.[5]

Factions supporting rival candidates in the upcoming Southwest state elections attacked each other with grenades in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia in recent days. SFG security forces conducted a security sweep of the town on December 6 in response, arresting multiple individuals. Southwest state will hold its election on December 19 after having delayed the election three times. Former al Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, is a leading candidate.[6]

The military chiefs of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop-contributing countries approved a plan for AMISOM operations from 2018 to 2021 on December 2. The framework covers the final stage of AMISOM’s efforts in Somalia and establishes an exit plan. AMISOM chiefs encouraged the Somali government to begin generating the necessary forces to assume all security roles in Somalia.[7]

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) raided al Shabaab Hisbah offices in Sabiid Anole, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on December 7. NISA agents captured two al Shabaab militants and recovered explosives.[8]

Ethiopian authorities discovered three illegal military camps in Amhara region northern Ethiopia, that they said were part of a plot to stoke unrest in the state. Brigadier General Asamnew Tsege claimed on December 6 that the operators of the camps had exploited the grievances of the ethnic Kimant minority to destabilize Amhara region over the past four years. Tsege did not name the operators of the camp, but sources blamed the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs neighboring Tigray region. Hundreds of Tigrayan and Kimant fled Amhara region in November after attacks by ethnic Amhara youth.[9]

[1] Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018,; Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018,; and Al Jazeera Breaking, Twitter, December 7, 2018,

[2] “Hadi government delegate at the UN-led consultations: The details of the first round,” Suhail, December 7, 2018,

[3] “Yemen government proposes reopening of Sana’a airport in peace talks,” Reuters, December 7, 2018,

[4] “New message from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: of their crimes,” Jihadology, December 5, 2018,

[5] “Senate speaker lands in Kismayo for talks,” Garowe, December 6, 2018,

[6] “Somali troops launch massive sweep in Baidoa ahead of election,” Radio Shabelle, December 6, 2018,; and “Profile: Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansour),” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 14, 2011,

[7] “Military chiefs approve framework for exit of AU troops from Somalia,” Vanguard, December 6, 2018,

[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, December 7, 2018,

[9] “Ethiopia: Three illegal military training facilities found in Amhara region,” ESAT, December 6, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 13, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, November 13, 2018,

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