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. trains Hadi government forces in Riyadh; STC calls for protests against Hadi government; UN envoy to Yemen to meet southern Yemeni secessionists in Abu Dhabi; president Hadi meets with U.S. ambassador to Yemen in Riyadh; al Houthi movement release two sons of former president Saleh from prison; Doctors without Borders suspend work in al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: Somaliland agrees to talks with Somalia; Mozambique prosecutes 180 suspected Salafi-jihadi militants; possible U.S. aircraft conduct airstrike against al Shabaab in Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia; Somali senate calls on Galmudug state parliament to de-escalate tensions

Yemen Security Brief

U.S. officials trained 28 Yemeni Border Guard troops loyal to the Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from September 16 to 27, according to an U.S. press release October 1. The training aimed to improve Hadi government troops’ ability to intercept and seize smuggled weapons, explosives, ballistic missile components, and Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, and Nuclear (CBRN) materials. U.S. Central Command commander General Joseph Votel met with Hadi Government Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Aqili on September 6 to discuss border protection and counterterrorism cooperation. U.S. defense officials also met with Hadi government Vice President Ali Mohsen al Ahmar in August to discuss resuming U.S. military cooperation and training for Yemeni troops.[1]

The Transitional Political Council of the South (STC) called for a peaceful uprising against the Hadi government in an October 3 statement.  The STC press release criticized the Hadi’s government inability to address Yemen’s financial crisis and accused the Hadi government of corruption. The STC restated its objective to form a sovereign state along the pre-1990 People's Democratic Republic of Yemen border in the October 3 statement. The STC also blamed the Hadi government on October 1 for the deteriorating economic and social situation in Yemen.[2]

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths announced that he will meet with STC leadership and Emirati officials in Abu Dhabi on October 3 to discuss confidence-building measures and resuming the peace process. Griffiths announced a plan to restart peace talks between the al Houthi movement and the Hadi government on September 28.[3]

President Hadi met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller on October 3 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation in Yemen and the collapse of the Yemeni rial. President Hadi blamed the current financial crisis on al Houthi currency manipulation while the Central Bank was based in Sana’a. The Hadi government moved the Central Bank from al Houthi-controlled Sana’a to Aden in September 2016. Ambassador Tueller expressed America’s continued support of the internationally recognized Yemeni government, according to a Hadi government press release.[4]

The al Houthi movement released two of the sons of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh from a prison in Sana’a after detaining them for ten months.  Al Houthi forces detained Salah Saleh and Madian Saleh after al Houthi forces killed the former president in December 2017. Omani officials and UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths facilitated the release. Al Houthi forces have not yet released Saleh’s brother.[5]

Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) withdrew its staff from al Dhaleh governorate, southern Yemen in response to two explosive attacks targeting the MSF staff house in al Dhaleh in the past week. MSF warned it was one of the only medical organizations delivering humanitarian assistance in the area and that this decision leaves thousands of Yemenis without humanitarian aid and medical care. MSF continues to operate 15 hospitals and health centers in Yemen, and provides support to more than 16 others.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somalia’s Senate called on rival factions in the Galmudug state parliament to deescalate an ongoing political dispute on October 2. Galmudug MPs allied with Galmudug Speaker of Parliament Ali Asir attempt to impeach Galmudug state President Ahmed Haaf in September. MPs allied to Haaf attempted to impeach Asir shortly thereafter. Galmudug is one of the five Federal Member States that suspended ties with the Somali Federal Government on September 8. Only Hirshabelle state has restored ties.[7]

Somaliland agreed to talks with Somalia after the Danish and Dutch ambassadors to Kenya encouraged leaders from the two countries to improve relations on October 3. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo announced a proposal to fly to Somaliland to begin discussions on October 1. The Danish and Dutch envoys offered to host the talks in Nairobi. Somaliland claimed independence from Somalia in 1991 at the outbreak of the Somali civil war, but Somalia has refused to recognize its independence.[8]

Mozambique began a trial on October 3 for 180 Mozambican and foreign Salafi-jihadi suspects accused of attacks in the northern Cabo Delgado province. Suspected Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama militants have killed more than 50 people in knife, gun, and grenade attacks in Cabo Delgado since October 2017. This is the first trial of Salafi-jihadist suspects since the attacks began. Fifty Tanzanians are among the defendants. Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama has not formally claimed any of the attacks in the region.[9]

Unidentified aircraft conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab positions near Basra village, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on October 2. Local media suggested that U.S. aircraft conducted the strikes, but U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has not claimed responsibility.[10]

[1] “U.S. Completes Second Iteration of Training to Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) Border Guards,” U.S. Embassy in Yemen, October 1, 2018,
View Citations

[2] “Southern Transitional Council issues political statement,” Southern Transitional Council, October 3, 2018,; and “Yemen separatists call for Southern uprising,” France 24, October 3, 2018,

[3] Twitter, October 3, 2018,

[4] “The president praises the strong relations between our country and the United States of America,” President Hadi - Gov, October 3, 2018,; and “‘Hadi’ begging for U.S. support and declares ‘rial crisis’,” Aden al Hadath October 3, 2018,

[5] “Yemen rebels free former president’s sons,” Anadolu Agency, October 3, 2018,; “Salah and Moudein Ali Abdullah Saleh freed from prison,” Saba Net, October 3, 2018,; and “Yemeni officials: Houthi militias release slain-ex-president’s sons,” Arab News, October 3, 2018,  

[6] “Yemen: MSF Suspends Activities in Ad Dhale Following Attacks,” Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres, October 2, 2018,

[7] “Senate warns political row in Galmudug damaging institutions, urges restraint,” Goobjoog, October 2, 2018,; Mohamed Olad Hassan, “Somali regional states suspend ties with federal government,” Voice of America, September 8, 2018,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review: September 19, 2018,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 19, 2018,

[8] “International community calls for end to Hergeisa and Mogadishu hostilities,” Hiiraan, October 3 2018,

[9] “Mozambique to put 180 Islamist suspects on trial,” Agence France Presse, October 3 2018,

[10] “An intense airstrike reported in Al-Shabab-held area in southern Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, October 3 2018,; and “US suspected drone hit Al-Shabaab bases in Middle Shabelle,” Halbeeg, October 3 2018,

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