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 fail to open road linking al Hudaydah city to Sana’a; Hadi government denies al Houthi movement transferred security to legitimate local authorities in al Hudaydah; WFP demands al Houthi authorities cease diverting food aid; Islamic State claims IED attack targeting AQAP in al Bayda governorate; STC chairman meets with representatives from the office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen

Horn of Africa: Somali Federal Government declares UN representative persona non grata; likely al Shabaab militants shell UN compound in Mogadishu; KDF soldiers kill seven al Shabaab militants; al Shabaab claims 18 attacks in five-day period; SNA troops execute six al Shabaab militants in Bardhere, Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief:

Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi's Government and the al Houthi movement did not open the main road linking al Hudaydah city and the capital Sana’a city as agreed upon on December 28, according to a UN announcement. UN appointed chairman of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, stated that he is disappointed by the failure of both parties to complete this confidence building measure.[1]

The al Houthi movement claimed to transfer control of al Hudaydah port to the coast guard and local administrators on December 29. The Hadi government stated that the coast guard officials and local administrators are al Houthi officials and that the al Houthi movement is not implementing the Stockholm Agreement in good faith. An al Houthi delegate to UN-led consultations in Sweden, Abdul Malik al Ajri, responded by stating that international recognition of the Hadi government does not equate to local legitimacy and insisted the transfer is in line with the agreement.[2]

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) demanded that al Houthi authorities cease diverting humanitarian food relief on December 31. A WFP survey discovered that many intended beneficiaries had not been receiving aid in Sana’a city and other areas controlled by the al Houthi movement. An investigation by the Associated Press also found that factions on all sides of the conflict have diverted food aid for political reasons or to be sold on the black market.[3]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed its militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) killing three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on December 31. The Islamic State in Yemen also released a video criticizing the Saudi-led coalition and local tribes in al Qayfa as un-Islamic on January 1.[4]

Chairman of the National Assembly of the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), Ahmed Said Bin Brik, met with representatives from the office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen to discuss the role of southern Yemen in the UN peace process on January 2.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) declared Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia Nicholas Haysom persona non grata on January 1. Nicholas Haysom had sent a letter on December 30 to the SFG interior security minister questioning the arrest of former al Shabaab deputy Mukhtar Robow and the clashes that resulted from his arrest. Nicholas Haysom was appointed Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) in September 2018.[6]

Likely al Shabaab militants shelled  UN compound  in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 1. The attack injured two UN staff members and one contractor.[7]

A Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) killed seven al Shabaab militants along the Tabda Delahola supply route in southern Somalia on January 1.[8]

Al Shabaab claimed 18 attacks targeting Somali National Army (SNA) troops, government officials, and AMISOM troops in Mogadishu, southern, and southwestern regions of Somalia between December 26 and December 31.[9]

SNA troops executed six al Shabaab militants without trial by firing squad in Bardhere, Gedo region, Somalia, on December 30.[10]

[1] “Note to correspondents on the situation in Yemen,” United Nations Secretary General, December 29, 2018,

[2] “Yemen’s Rebels say they left al Hudaydah port, claim disputed,” Ahmed Al Haj, Associated Press, December 29, 2018,; Abdul Malik Al Ajri, Twitter, December 31, 2018,; and Abdul Malik al Ajri, Twitter, December 31, 2018,

[3] “WFP demands action after uncovering misuse of food relief intended for hungry people,” Relief Web, December 31, 2018,

[4] Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, December 31, 2018,; and Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, January 1, 2019,

[5] President of the National Assembly meets with representatives from the office of the special envoy to Yemen,” SMA News, January 2, 2019,

[6] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “UN envoy Ordered to Leave Somalia,’ VOA, January 1, 2019,; Max Bearak, “Somalia expels top U.N. official after he criticizes crackdown on dissent,” Washington Post, January 2, 2019,; and Abdi Sheikh, “Somalia orders top U.N. official to leave,” Reuters, January 2, 2019,

[7] “Attack on UN compound in Somalia may be 'violation of international humanitarian law',” UN News, January 1, 2019,

[8] Magdalene Mukami, “Kenyan army kills 7 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia,” Anadolu Agency, January 2, 2019,; and KDF kills militants in deadly exchange gunfire in Somalia,” Garowe, January 2, 2019,

[9] “Shabaab charges U.S. with killing civilians in airstrike near afmadow, claims 18 attacks in 5 days,” SITE, December 31, available at

[10] Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somalia Military Executes 6 Militants Without Trial,” VOA, January 1, 2019,

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