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: Thousands of southern Yemenis join pro-STC and pro-UAE demonstrations; Saudi-brokered talks in Jeddah stall; US announces direct talks with al Houthi movement; al Houthi movement claims attacks on airport and airbase in southwestern Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: SFG announces beginning of reconciliation conference with Sufi militia in Galmudug State

Yemen Security Brief

Thousands of Yemenis rallied in support of the Transitional Political Council for the South (STC), a southern Yemeni secessionist group, in multiple locations in southern Yemen on September 5. STC supporters demonstrated in Yemen’s de facto capital, Aden, as well as al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate and the island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden. The demonstrators waved Southern Yemeni flags alongside Emirati flags. The STC, which is backed by the UAE, seized Aden from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government on August 10. STC-aligned forces have clashed with Hadi government-aligned forces in multiple locations in southern Yemen since then.[1]

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to broker talks in Jeddah between the STC and Hadi government have stalled and both sides are preparing for further conflict, according to Hadi government officials who spoke to Reuters. Delegates from both parties are in Jeddah, but they have refused to meet each other. Saudi Arabia reiterated its support for the Hadi government and called on the STC to withdraw from Aden on September 5. Saudi Arabia suggested that the Saudi-led coalition administer Aden.[2]

US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker announced on September 5 that the US has begun engaging in talks with the al Houthi movement to bring an end to the war in Yemen. Schenker, who is on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, stated that the US seeks a “mutually accepted negotiated solution” to end the conflict. The al Houthi movement did not confirm or deny the reports, but al Houthi official Abdul Qodus al Shahari stated that the fact that the US said it was talking to the al Houthis was itself a “great victory” for the group.[3]

The al Houthi movement claimed to attack Najran regional airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia with a Badr-1 missile on September 6. The Saudi-led coalition claimed that the missile fell in Yemeni airspace. The al Houthi movement separately claimed to conduct a drone attack on King Khaled Air Base near Khamis Mushayt city in southwestern Saudi Arabia on September 6. The Saudi-led coalition did not comment on this claim.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the Sufi militia Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) announced the beginning of a reconciliation conference in Dhusamareb, the capital of Galmudug State in north-central Somalia, on September 5. ASWJ recently accused the SFG of not abiding by a reconciliation agreement that the groups signed in July. The agreement stipulated that ASWJ forces would integrate into SFG security forces.[5]

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[1] Marwa Rashad and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Saudi Arabia defends Yemen government against UAE-backed separatists,” Reuters, September 5, 2019,; “Millions of loyalty to the coalition and the Emirates,” Sky News Arabic, September 5, 2019,; and Mohammed al Janaydi, “Millions of loyalty..The South reiterates its confidence in the UAE and rejects the Brotherhood militias and al Qaeda,” News Yemen, September 6, 2019,

[2] “Saudi Arabia: Yemen separatists should hand over military bases to government in Aden,” Reuters, September 5, 2019,; “Saudi Arabia follows up latest developments in Aden, stresses any attempt destabilize Yemen is a threat to security and stability,” Saudi Press Agency, September 5, 2019,; and “Talks to end violent south Yemen power struggle stall: officials,” Reuters, September 6, 2019,

[3] “When dialogue with Ansar Allah has become an urgent American need,” al Alam, September 6, 2019,; “US 'in talks with Houthis' in bid to end Yemen war: Official,” Al Jazeera, September 5, 2019,; and Anuj Chopra, “Washington in talks with Iran-backed Yemeni rebels, US official says,” Agence France Presse, September 6, 2019,

[4] “A Second Ballistic Missile hits in 24 hours.. Badr-1 missile hits Najran regional airport,” al Masirah, September 6, 2019,; “Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen: Houthi Terrorist Militia Fires A Ballistic Missile from Amran Governorate,” Saudi Press Agency, September 6, 2019,; and “The Air Force drone bombs a military target in Khamis Mushayt,” al Masirah, September 6, 2019,

[5] “Galmudug reconciliation conference to kick-off, as Hobyo conference concludes,” Goobjoog, September 5, 2019,; and Mayer Tuuryare, “Somalia's president Crisis: A Blueprint for sustainable settlement- Heritage Institute,” Mareeg Media, September 5, 2019,

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