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’s ambassador to the UN claims UN monitoring team leader will resign; UN envoy to Yemen and UN monitoring team leader meet with President Hadi; Islamic State in Yemen attacks al Houthi vehicle in Ibb governorate; Belabid tribesmen stage sit-in at oil field in northwestern Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: FBI arrests three Kenyan Islamic State supporters in Michigan; Ethiopian military conducts an airstrike in Bay region; former Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announces candidacy for 2020 elections; Ethiopian government and OLF faction sign peace deal; al Shabaab attacks South West State lawmaker’s residence in Baidoa

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Ali al Saadi, claimed on January 23 that the UN monitoring team leader Patrick Cammaert will resign. Al Saadi stated that Cammaert will continue to serve as team leader until a replacement is found. Other sources claim that Cammaert will be replaced in the first week of February. The UN tweeted that Cammaert remains in his role but did not comment on if there are plans to replace him.[1]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and UN monitoring team leader Patrick Cammaert met with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to discuss the ceasefire in al Hudaydah governorate and the prisoner exchange agreement in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 24. Cammaert also discussed the role of the incoming group of UN monitors approved by the UN Security Council in early January.[2]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Houthi vehicle in al Sha’ir district, Ibb governorate, central Yemen on January 24. The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to wound or kill five al Houthi passengers in the vehicle.[3]

Members of the Belabid tribe began a sit-in at the Aqla oil field in Arma district, northwestern Shabwah governorate on January 24. The tribesmen demanded that the Austrian company that owns the field award 50% of all oil transportation contracts to members of the Belabid tribe. They also sent a message to President Hadi, his Prime Minister, and the Governor of Shabwah demanding more basic services.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The FBI arrested three Kenyan-Americans in Lansing, Michigan on January 22 for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State. The FBI arrested one of the suspects at an airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan as he prepared to travel to Mogadishu, Somalia, where he planned to join the Islamic State. The three suspects allegedly recorded videos pledging allegiance to ISIS and expressed their desire to use a car to run over non-Muslims in the U.S. U.S. authorities began monitoring the three in April 2016 when one of the suspects made Facebook posts that indicated support for the Islamic State.[5]

The Ethiopian National Defense Force conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab near Baidoa town, Bay region, southern Somalia on January 24. The Ethiopian military announced on January 19 that it would launch a “massive offensive” against al Shabaab following the group’s ambush of an Ethiopian convoy in Bay region on January 18.[6]

Former Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced his candidacy for Somalia’s 2020 elections on January 24. Ahmed stated that the current administration’s inability to restore security to Somalia compelled him to run. Ahmed was president from January 2009 to August 2012 during the Somali Federal Government’s transitional period.[7]

The Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Front- Shane Group (OLF-SG) signed a peace agreement in Ambo, West Shewa Zone, Oromia region, western Ethiopia on January 24. Both parties agreed to an immediate ceasefire followed by the demobilization of OLF-SG’s fighters within 20 days. OLF-SG leader Daud Ibsa agreed to hand over fighters to a council of traditional Oromo elders as part of the process. The two parties also agreed to eventual reintegration training for OLF-SG members.[8]

Al Shabaab attacked a South West State lawmaker’s residence with a grenade in Baidoa, Bay region, southern Somalia on January 23. The attack injured three members of the politician’s family.[9]

[1] “Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations: Cammaert apologizes for completing his mission,” Sky News, January 23, 2019,; UN Spokesperson, Twitter, January 22, 2019,; and Talal al Haj, Twitter, January 23, 2019,

[2] “President of the Republic receives the UN envoy and warns of the failure of the Stockholm Agreement,” Official Website of President Hadi, January 24, 2019,

[3] “IS claims rare attack in Ibb, bombing Houthi vehicle,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 24, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[4] “Stop the transfer and export of oil from the field of Aqla in Shabwa,” Aden al Ahdath, January 24, 2019,

[5] Jason Devaney, “FBI arrests 3 Kenyan-Americans on terror charges,” Newsmax, January 22, 2019,; and Stella Cherono, “Three Kenyans charged in US on links with ISIS,” Daily Nation, January 23, 2019,

[6] “Ethiopian helicopters bomb Al Shabaab base near Baidoa,” Mareeg, January 24, 2019,; and “Ethiopian Ready to launch a ‘massive offensive’ against al Shabaab,” Associated Press, January 19, 2019,

[7] “Ex-Somalia President sets eye on the presidency seat on 2020,” Goobjoog, January 24, 2019,

[8] “Breakthrough as government, OLF-SG agree on immediate ceasefire, encampment of rebel army in 20 days,” Addis Standard, January 24, 2019,

[9] “Southwest State MP’s residence in Baidoa with grenade,” Radio Shabelle, January 24, 2019,

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