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: Al Houthi leadership removes governors and arrests 75 officials; STC Governor in Shabwah unifies security forces; Islamic State and AQAP clash in Dhamar governorate; Hadi government and al Houthi representatives agree on measures to ensure Stockholm Agreement compliance

Horn of Africa: Military and civilian leaders sign power-sharing agreement in Khartoum; Somali president appoints commission for reconciliation with Somaliland; representatives of the Sidama ethnic group postpone plans to declare a new region in southern Ethiopia

Yemen Security Brief

The head of the Supreme Political Council for the al Houthi movement, Mahdi al Mashat, removed six al Houthi-appointed governors from their positions on July 17. Unnamed sources cited the governors’ corruption and abuse of power as the reason for the dismissal. Al Houthi officials arrested 75 unspecified al Houthi leaders throughout the six governorates on July 18.[1]

Governor of Shabwah for the Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) Ali Mohsen Ruwais Sulaimani led a meeting to organize local military forces into one force loyal to the STC on July 17. Forces will include Southern Resistance Forces, the Shabwani Elite, and tribal militias. The meeting’s participants stated that no northern soldiers will be allowed to participate in the new unified southern military forces and that no northern agenda will be permitted in Shabwah.[2]

Islamic State militants killed one al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighter and injured one other with sniper fire in Dhi Kalib in eastern Dhamar governorate, central Yemen on July 17. Fighting between the Islamic State and AQAP has decreased since its height in early June 2019. AQAP released a video condemning the Islamic State for torturing its own fighters on July 18.[3]

A Yemeni military source revealed details of the July 15 agreement between al Houthi and Hadi government representatives to enforce the 2018 United Nations-organized Stockholm Agreement. The al Houthi and Hadi government delegations agreed to deploy "liaison officers" to support UN members monitoring compliance with the agreement. The military source stated that this mechanism will enable each side to trust the UN verification process and to ensure that the other party has withdrawn its forces from the al Hudaydah area. This agreement came after a meeting on a UN ship in the Red Sea on July 14-15 to address reported violations of the agreement.[4] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Military and civilian leaders signed a power-sharing agreement in Khartoum, Sudan on July 18. The agreement establishes a joint council that the head of the Transitional Military Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al Burhan, will lead for 21 months followed by a civilian leader for 18 months. Civilian opposition groups had initially called for an immediate transition to civilian rule. Military and civilian leaders have not yet agreed on a constitution that would specify the powers of the council.[5]

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’ appointed a national commission for reconciliation dialogue with Somaliland on July 17. Former Somali Foreign Minister Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail will chair the commission.[6]

Officials from the Sidama Liberation Movement Party, a political party representing Ethiopia’s Sidama ethnic group, stated on July 18 that they would postpone plans to declare a new Sidama region in southern Ethiopia. The party accepted the Ethiopian federal government’s proposal to hold a referendum within the next five months. Security forces dispersed protesters calling for the creation of a Sidama region in Hawassa city, the capital of Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s region, earlier on July 18.[7]

Visit our Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen story streams. 

[1] “Citing of the dismissal of 6 appointed governors by the Houthi militias,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, July 17, 2019,; “Other Yemen News – 75 Houthi leaders arrested in 6 governorates.. Conflict ignited inside the house of the coupers in Yemen,” Hadramout, July 18, 2019,

[2] “Agreement in #Shabwa on the uniting the forces of the Elite and the army and the security,” Aden Lang, July 18, 2019,

[3] Elizabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 17, 2019,; “AQAP-affiliate Releases 3rd Installment in Video Series Documenting IS' Torture of Own Fighters in Prison,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 18, 2019, English translation available by subscription at

[4] "Agreement on the deployment of liaison officers in al Hudaydah," Al Hurra, July 18, 2019,

[5] “Sudan’s military and protesters sign power-sharing deal, first step toward civilian rule,” Hiiraan, July 18, 2019,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review – July 5, 2019,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, July 5, 2019,

[6] “President Farmajo appoints commission for talks with Somaliland,” Goobjoog, July 18, 2019,

[7] Kumerra Gemechu and Dawit Endeshaw, “Protesters take to streets to declare new Ethiopia region,” July 18, 2019, Reuters,; and Addis Standard, Twitter, July 18, 2019,

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