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 officials and international leaders discuss Yemen in Berlin; al Houthi forces shoot at UN monitoring team; U.S. Air Force trained Emirati airmen who deployed to Yemen; Emirati-backed Yemeni forces clash with AQAP militants in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: Ethiopian security forces launch stabilization mission in western Oromia; al Shabaab attacks SNA base in Afgoi

Yemen Security Brief

United Nations officials and international leaders held discussions on the Yemen peace process in Berlin, Germany on January 16. The High Level Strategic Dialogue on the Peace Process and Prospects for Stabilization in Yemen included UN Special Envoy to Yemen Marin Griffiths, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande, and representatives from 16 other unspecified countries. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Foreign Ministry released a statement criticizing the meeting for not coordinating with or consulting the Hadi government prior to the dialogue. The dialogue did not include representatives from any Yemeni parties.[1]

Al Houthi forces blocked UN monitoring team leader Patrick Cammaert from attending a meeting at the Joint Military Commission in al Hudaydah city, western Yemen on January 17. Al Houthi forces fired artillery to stop the UN motorcade but ultimately let them pass after several hours, according to anti-al Houthi news sources. The UN Spokesperson announced that Patrick Cammaert and his team are now safe but did not confirm the details of the attack.[2]

The U.S. Air Force assisted Emirati airmen in exercises to prepare for combat operations in Yemen, according to Air Force documents obtained by Yahoo News. The Air Force also advanced an Emirati F-16 training program that produced 29 combat wingmen who deployed to Yemen for combat operations at al Dhafra Air Base. Two U.S. Central Command spokespersons denied that U.S. forces have conducted exercises to prepare any Saudi-led coalition members for combat in Yemen.[3]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces reported killing eight al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters during clashes in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on January 16. AQAP militants entered al Mahfad city on January 15 and raised flags over government buildings, prompting al Hizam troops to begin a campaign in the district. The AQAP militants retreated into the mountains after initial clashes on January 15.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Ethiopian security forces launched stabilization operations in western Oromia region in Western Ethiopia on January 16. Security forces arrested 835 members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and recovered weapons and vehicles from the militants in the Qellem Wellega Zone of western Oromia. The government denied reports that the military conducted airstrikes against OLF camps in the region on January 13 and stated that helicopters were only used to transport soldiers[5]

Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) base in Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on January 12. Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized parts of the town before retreating later in the night, according to local media. Somali officials denied these claims. The number of casualties on either side is unknown.[6]

[1] “UN officials, international parties talk Yemen in Berlin,” DW, January 16, 2019,; and “Yemen has reservations about the outcome of the meeting organized by the German foreign ministry,” Saba New, January 16, 2019,
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[2] UN Spokesperson, Twitter,; “Houthis shoot Patrick Cammaert,” Ababil Net, January 17, 2019,; “This is what happened today in the city of al Hudaydah,” Hour Press, January 17, 2019,; and “Houthi militias fire their weapons at the head of the UN commission,” SMA News, January 17, 2019,

[3] Nick Turse, “Despite denials, documents reveal U.S. training UAE forces for combat in Yemen,” Yahoo News, January 17, 2019,

[4] “Eight al Qaeda killed in clashes with security forces,” 7adramout, January 16, 2019,; “The city of al Mahfad falls completely into the hands of al-Qaeda,” al Khabar al Yemeni, January 15, 2019,; and “al Qaeda operatives fled after receiving blows from al Hizam Security Forces in the mountains of al Mahfad,” Aden al Ghad, January 16, 2019,

[5] “Command Post Arrests 835 Armed OLF Members for Disrupting Peace,” FANA Broadcasting, January 17, 2019,; “Ethiopia says launches offensive against Oromo rebels,” Channel News Asia, January 17, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 14, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 14, 2019, 

[6] “Somalia: Heavy Fighting Breaks out in Afgoye Town, outside Mogadishu,” Radio Shabelle, January 17, 2019,

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