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: Emirati-backed southern governing body forms military and vows to secede from the Hadi government; Russian Foreign Ministry states Saudi-led coalition involved in internal Yemeni political conflict; Hadi government to meet in Aden to approve state budget; Saudi-led coalition establishes aid corridor to Ma’rib, northern Yemen; al Houthi forces fire short-range ballistic missile at Najran, southwestern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Somali president fires Mogadishu mayor; Somali forces raid al Shabaab bases in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia; clans clash over land dispute in Sanaag region, northern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) formed a southern military, dubbed the Southern Resistance Forces, and vowed to overthrow the internationally recognized Hadi government in southern Yemen on January 21. The STC is an Emirati-backed governing body that formed in May 2017. Brigadier General Munir al Yafa’i of the Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces gave the Hadi government and all northern forces one week to retreat from southern and eastern Yemen. STC President Aydarus al Zubaydi pledged the STC’s commitment to the Saudi-led coalition’s military effort to remove the al Houthi movement from power in the north.[1] 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the Yemeni crisis has worsened due to the “domestic conflict in [Yemen] with the involvement of the Arab coalition” during a meeting with Hadi government Foreign Minister Abdul Malik al Mikhlafi on January 22. Lavrov reiterated that Russia is prepared to facilitate a political settlement to the conflict and affirmed that Russia maintains relations with all actors involved in the civil war. Lavrov expressed hope that the humanitarian situation will prompt political negotiations and an end to military action. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on January 19 its intention to resume investment projects in Yemen after a single governing body is formed.[2]

Hadi government Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghir announced on January 21 that the Hadi government parliament will meet in Aden next month to approve the state budget. Bin Daghir reported that the state is expected to receive $2.22 billion in revenue and spend $3.32 billion. The budget includes military and civilian salaries in 12 southern governorates and education and health sector salaries in al Houthi-held territory. Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion into Yemen’s Aden-based Central Bank on January 17 after the Yemeni riyal reached a new low of 500 to the dollar on January 16.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition announced its intention to set up an air bridge to Ma’rib city and 17 overland routes for aid deliveries on January 21. The coalition stated it would contribute $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid to UN relief efforts following a January 20 UN appealed for $2.96 billion in aid for Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition will also spend an additional $40 million to expand the capacity of ports and $30 million to redirect non-food commercial shipments away from al Houthi-held al Hudaydah port to other ports outside of the UN contribution.[4]

Al Houthi forces fired a short-range ballistic missile at a Saudi military camp in Najran, southwestern Saudi Arabia on January 20. Saudi Arabia claimed its air defense systems intercepted the missile. The al Houthi movement announced the development of a new short-range missile on January 10. Al Houthi forces have fired four missiles of this type at Saudi Arabia, according to al Houthi-affiliated media.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali Federal Government (SFG) President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo fired Mogadishu Mayor and Banadir Governor Thabit Abdi Mohamed on January 20 due to his recent demands for greater regional autonomy. President Farmajo replaced Mohamed with former Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman. Somali security forces raided the home and offices of the mayor, whose supporters protested but did not resist with force. The SFG has replaced at least six officials since October 2017.[6] 

U.S.-backed SNA forces and Jubbaland State forces killed 38 al Shabaab militants during raids in several villages near Kismayo and Jamaame town in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia between January 19 and 20, according to a Jubbaland official. Al Shabaab militants also claimed to stop a joint U.S.-Somali “airborne attack” in Jamaame on January 20. U.S.-backed Danab special forces captured an al Shabaab stronghold and the U.S. conducted two airstrikes near Kismayo between January 17 and 18.[7]

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi deployed troops from Ceel Afweyn to Dararweyne town in Sanaag region, northern Somalia to stop clashes between clans on January 22. The troops deployed to the part of disputed Sanaag region that Somaliland administers. The violence, which occurred over a grazing territory dispute, killed over 16 residents. A year-long drought in Somalia has escalated tensions over grazing rights for primarily pastoral clans.[8]

[1] “Full text of the speech of the President of the Southern Transitional Council and Supreme Commander of the Southern Resistance during the general meeting of the leaders of the southern resistance in Aden,” Southern Transitional Council, January 21, 2018,; “Statement of the General Meeting of the Leaders of the Southern Resistance, which was called for by President Idriss Zubaidi (full text),” Southern Transitional Council, January 21, 2018,; and “Southern Yemen separatists want Saudi-backed government overthrown,” Reuters, January 21, 2018,
[2] “Lavrov: Parties in Yemen should go over from military action to talks,” TASS, January 22, 2018,; and “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al Mekhlafi,” Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 22, 2018,
[3] “Yemen sets first budget since 2014,” Reuters, January 21, 2018,; and “Prime Minister announces the state budget for the current year 2018,” Saba New, January 21, 2018,
[4] “Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 billion in Yemen aid, expand port capacity,” Reuters, January 21, 2018,; Asa Fitch, “Saudi-Led Coalition Injects More Aid Into War-Torn Yemen,” The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2018,; “The emergency meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States issues a draft resolution on the launching of a ballistic missile by the Houthi militia towards Riyadh,” Saudi Press Agency, January 21, 2018,; “Humanitarian Response Plan,”  United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 20, 2018,; and “For comprehensive humanitarian operations in Yemen aimed at achieving an unprecedented relief plan for the Yemeni people,” Saudi Press Agency, January 22, 2018,
[5] “Launch of a short-range ballistic missile at Najran camp,” Al Masirah, January 20, 2018,; “Coalition Forces Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen: RSADF Intercept, Destroy Ballistic Missile Targeting Najran City,” Saudi Press Agency, January 20, 2018,; and “Yemen's Houthis fire ballistic missile toward Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, January 20, 2018,
[6] “Somali president sacks Mogadishu mayor, names replacement,” Reuters, January 22, 2018,; “Somali forces foil rally to show solidarity with Mogadishu Mayor,” Reuters, January 20, 2018,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 20, 2018,
[7] Ahmed Hurre, “More than 30 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in an operation,” SONNA, January 20, 2018,; and “Al Shabaab claims attacks in southern and northern Somalia,” Telegram, January 22, 2018. 
[8] “16 killed in Somaliland clan fighting,” Radio Dalsan, January 22, 2018,; and “Tension mounts high in Sanaag region north Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, January 22, 2018,

View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '18
Jan '18
Dec '17