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: U.S. secretary of state meets with UN special envoy to Yemen; STC president reiterates goal to form sovereign southern state; al Houthi Supreme Political Council president urges Russia to facilitate political resolution in Yemen; Yemeni president denounces Hezbollah’s support for al Houthi forces

Horn of Africa: U.S. amends al Shabaab terror designation to include Kenyan wing; Eritrea withdraws troops from Ethiopian border; Ethiopia appoints ambassador to Eritrea; al Shabaab captures strategic town from Puntland forces; Somali officers sentenced for encouraging clan rivalries within SNA

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to discuss negotiations over  al Hudaydah port on July 19. Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem al Hashimy also met with Griffiths and reiterated the Saudi-led coalition’s demand for an unconditional al Houthi withdrawal from al Hudaydah city. She also reiterated the coalition’s demands to transfer the port to UN administration, allow Hadi government forces access to the port, and transfer the port’s revenues to a Hadi government-controlled branch of the Yemeni Central Bank. Al Hashimy stated that negotiations over al Hudaydah might lead to larger negotiations for the conflict. She added that the UAE views Griffiths’ framework for negotiations positively.[1]

Transitional Political Council for the South (STC) President Aydarus al Zubaidi reiterated the STC’s goal to establish a sovereign southern state based on the pre-1990 borders of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in a July 19 interview with Sputnik. Zubaidi also stated that the state would use a pluralist federal system. He also accused the Hadi government of corruption and blamed it for the humanitarian crisis in southern Yemen.[2]

Al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Mahdi al Mashat urged Russia to help facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the Yemeni civil war in a letter addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.[3]

President Hadi denounced Hezbollah’s backing of the al Houthi movement on July 20. Hadi added that his forces could shell Sana’a but he does not want to worsen the humanitarian situation in the city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The U.S. Department of State amended the terrorist designation for al Shabaab to include al Hijra, a Kenya-based branch of the group, on July 19. The State Department said that al Hijra is an alias for the group. Al Hijra has facilitated al Shabaab’s external operations in East Africa. The State Department formally designated al Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2008.[5]

Eritrea withdrew forces from its heavily militarized border with Ethiopia on July 19. The pro-government Eritrean Press agency announced the move as a “gesture of reconciliation” on its Facebook page. Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to implement an 18-year-old peace agreement on July 8. Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border conflict from 1998 to 2000.[6]

Ethiopia appointed an ambassador to Eritrea for the first time in 20 years on July 19. Ethiopian state media announced that Redwan Hussein will serve as ambassador to Eritrea. Prime Minister Ahmed met Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on July 16 to celebrate the reopening of the Eritrean embassy in Addis Ababa.[7]

Al Shabaab captured the town of Af Urur in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of northern Somalia on July 20. Puntland Security Forces reportedly abandoned the town on July 19, allowing the al Shabaab militants to enter without a fight. Af Urur is located along a strategic highway linking Mogadishu to the Puntland administrative capital Garowe as well as the port of Bosaaso.[8]

A military court in Mogadishu sentenced 18 Somali officers on July 19 to five-year prison sentences for promoting rivalries within the Somali National Army (SNA) based on clan allegiances. The officers were based at the General Gordon Base in Mogadishu.[9]

[1] “Secretary Pompeo's Meeting with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Martin Griffiths,” U.S. Department of State, July 19, 2018,; and “UAE’s Reem Al Hashimy: Solution in Hodeidah could lead to final settlement in Yemen,” The National, July 18, 2018,

[2] “In an interview with the news agency "Sputnik" President Zubaidi illustrates what the Southern Transitional Council achieved more than a year after its founding,” STC, July 19, 2018,

[3] “The President of the Supreme Political Council sends a message to the Russian President,” Saba News, July 19, 2018,

[4] SouadSbaiEngl, Twitter, July 17, 2018,; “Yemen President Says his Forces can Strike Sana’a,” Asharq al Awsat, July 20, 2018,; and “President of the Republic: The repercussions of the coup d’état of the Houthi militia have caused great damage to Yemen,” President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, July 20, 2018,

[5] “Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of al-Shabaab,” Office of the Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State, July 19, 2018,; and “US amends terror designation of Shabaab to include Kenyan ‘wing’,” The Long War Journal, July 19, 2018,

[6] “Eritrean troops withdraw from Ethiopia border -Eritrean Press agency,” Reuters, July 19, 2018,

[7] “Ethiopia names ambassador to Eritrea as ties thaw,” AFP, July 19, 2018,

[8] “Al Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland,” Reuters, July 20, 2018,; and Abdiqanihassan, Twitter, July 20, 2018,

[9] “18 soldiers to serve five years in jail over ‘clan rivalries’,” Goobjoog, July 19, 2018,

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