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 official claims final lists for the prisoner exchange will be signed in ten days; al Houthi leader meets with members of UN monitoring team and UN envoy; Russian foreign ministers meet with key figures in the Yemen peace process; AQAP targets Islamic State in Yemen and al Houthi vehicles in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa: Sudanese president travels to Qatar; Islamic State releases video calling on doctors and nurses to join fight in Somalia; al Shabaab detonates car bomb in Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims defections from Jubbaland presidential guard; Ethiopian Amhara region police arrest former communication minister in Addis Ababa

Yemen Security Brief

An official from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, Hadi Ahmed Hij, claimed on January 23 that the final lists for the prisoner exchange will be signed within ten days. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is preparing for the prisoner exchange by increasing staff and arranging two planes to transport detainees. The Hadi government and al Houthi movement agreed to exchange thousands of prisoners in December.[1]

President of the al Houthi Supreme Political Council Mahdi al Mushat met with members of the UN monitoring team to discuss the alleged bias of the team leader, Patrick Cammaert, in Sana’a city on January 20. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths met with al Mushat in Sana’a city on January 22. Al Houthi representative Mohammed al Bukhaiti stated on January 18 that the al Houthi movement will not participate in any dialogue about additional international monitors until disagreements are resolved.[2]

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov discussed the Stockholm Agreement with Yemeni ambassador to Russia Ahmed Salem al Wahishi, Emirati ambassador to Russia Maadhad Hareb al Khaili, and the Saudi Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia in Moscow on January 22. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin discussed the Stockholm agreement with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in Moscow on January 11.[3]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting Islamic State in Yemen vehicles in upper Qayfa area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on January 17 and 19. AQAP also claimed to detonate an IED targeting an al Houthi vehicle in Qayfa area on January 18.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir flew to Doha, Qatar on January 23. Bashir will meet with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani to discuss “brotherly relations and ways to bolster them,” according to Qatar’s official news agency. Tamim told Bashir in December 2018 that Qatar will “provide all that is needed” to help Sudan during ongoing anti-regime protests.[5]

The Islamic State released a video on January 23 showing clips of slain fighters in Somalia. One of the fighters, an English-speaking doctor, calls on doctors and medics to emigrate to Somalia to join the Islamic State.[6]

Al Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb near the K-4 junction in Mogadishu on January 23. The explosion injured at least four civilians. Al Shabaab claimed to kill a member of the Somali Federal Government’s (SFG) Interior Ministry in the attack.[7]

Al Shabaab claimed that four soldiers from the Jubbaland Security Forces, including three personal guards of Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe, surrendered to al Shabaab in Jilib town, Middle Jubba region on January 21. The defections have not been confirmed. Al Shabaab also stated that the number of Ethiopian soldiers killed in a January 18 ambush in Bay region rose from 57 to 82.[8]

Amhara region police arrested Ethiopia’s former Communication Minister, Bereket Simon, on corruption charges in Addis Ababa on January 23. Simon is a founding member of the Amhara Democratic Party, which governs Amhara region and is part of the federal government’s ruling coalition.[9]

[1] “Yemen prisoner swap terms expected in coming days, government delegate says,” Reuter, January 23, 2019,

[2] “President meets UN special envoy to Yemen,” Saba News, January 22, 2019,; “UN monitors biased toward Saudi Arabia: Yemen’s Houthis,” Press TV, January 18, 2019,; and “President al Mushat meets Hudaydah truce committee members,” Saba News, January 20, 2019,

[3] “Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin meeting with the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths,” Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Yemen, January 11, 2109,; and “On the meeting of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov with the heads of diplomatic missions of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in Moscow,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 22, 2019,

[4] Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, January 22, 2019,; and “AQAP claims killing at least 4 IS fighters in Bombings in al Bayda, blast on Houthi vehicle” SITE Intelligence Group, January 22, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[5] “Sudan’s embattled president travels to Qatar amid unrest,” Associated Press, January 23, 2019,; “Qatari Prince meets with Sudanese President,” Al Jazeera, January 23, 2019,

[6] “In IS video presenting slain fighters in Somalia, English-speaking doctor calls for medical professionals to join group,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 23, 2019, English translation available by subscription at; and JihadoScope, Twitter, January 23, 2019,

[7] “Car bomb outside bank in Mogadishu,” Elfagr, January 23, 2019,; Somalia: car bomb outside Mogadishu injures 4,” Garowe Online, January 23, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 23, 2019,; and “Shabaab claims assassinating Somali Interior Ministry official, reports surrender of 3 of Jubaland’s president guards,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 23, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[8] “Shabaab claims assassinating Somali Interior Ministry official, reports surrender of 3 of Jubaland’s president guards,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 23, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[9] “Ethiopia arrests ex-government minister Bereket Simon over corruption,” Africanews, January 23, 2019,  

View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '19
Jan '19
Dec '18