Gulf of Aden Security Review - April 14, 2011

Yemen: Over ten thousand soldiers reportedly defect to the opposition; the EU urges Saleh to take steps towards transition; clashes between security forces and protestors injure at least 15 demonstrators in Ibb; JMP rejects GCC-mediated negotiations

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims responsibility for attack in Gedo and describes execution of convicted murderer in Banadir; clashes in Mogadishu kill at least ten people; 15 al Shabaab militants reportedly surrender to Ras Kamboni forces; FBI arrests alleged pirate; Puntland bans weapons trading; TFG president accuses al Shabaab of misleading and corrupting the youth; TFG ambassador to Syria denounces UN special representative; UNPOS issues statement on consultative meeting

Yemen Security Brief

  • An estimated ten thousand Republican Guard, Central Security Force, and Air Force officers and soldiers reportedly defected to the opposition, according to Xinhua. An official said, “They declared in front of commander al-Ahmar their defection from Saleh's government and the joining to the youth-led protesters, vowing to support and protect the peaceful revolution of the youths.”[1]
  • The European Union Foreign Affairs Council released a press statement urging President Saleh to refrain from violence and endorsing the GCC-mediated negotiations. The statement reads: “...the Council welcomes the initiative of the GCC and fully recognises the role the GCC can play as a mediator. The Council urges President Saleh to take without delay concrete steps to enable a credible and peaceful political transition in Yemen.”[2]
  • Clashes between security forces and protestors injured at least 15 people from the local university in Ibb. Local sources report that security forces fired live rounds at demonstrators.[3]
  • Yemen’s opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), rejected returning to the GCC-mediated negotiations. An opposition leader, Mohammed al Mutawakkil, said, “We have renewed our emphasis on the need for speeding the process of (Saleh) standing down to within two weeks. Therefore we will not go to Riyadh.”[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • On April 11, al Shabaab released two communiqués to jihadist forums. The first described an attack by an al Shabaab explosives unit in Gedo region that reportedly killed 11 Ethiopian and Somali soldiers. The second described the execution of Abdul Rahman Othman Ahmad, convicted of killing two people in an al Shabaab-run court in the Banadir region.[5]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops, backed by AMISOM, fought with al Shabaab militants in Bakara Market in Mogadishu. Ten people were killed and 17 others wounded.[6]
  • Shabelle Media Networks reported that 15 al Shabaab fighters surrendered to Ras Kamboni forces. A Ras Kamboni military leader, Abdifatah Farah, said the 15 fighters were young boys who were misled into joining al Shabaab, and were not radical Islamists.[7]
  • FBI agents arrested Mohammad Shibin in Somalia in a joint operation with Somali authorities. He was indicted in early March for three counts, including piracy and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and detained in early April. Shibin is allegedly connected to the Quest hijacking that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. He is said to have researched the hostages to set an appropriate ransom demand. Shibin may also have been the lead negotiator for the release of the chemical tanker M/V Marida Marguerite, for which he might have been paid $30,000.[8]
  • Puntland banned the sale or purchase of firearms and ammunitions within its borders following a spate of assassinations attempts against Puntland officials.[9]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accused al Shabaab of misleading and corrupting Somalia’s youth. Ahmed urged al Shabaab militants to join the TFG to repair a nation exhausted from twenty years of civil strife. Ahmed also took the opportunity to praise AMISOM troops.[10]
  • TFG Ambassador to Syria Bashir Ibrahim Hajji reproached the UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga for hosting the UN-sponsored consultative summit outside of Somalia. Hajji said that Mahiga had brought “humiliation and disgrace” on Somali sovereignty.[11]
  • The UN-hosted consultative summit in Nairobi, Kenya closing statement called for an immediate transition towards a permanent, official government, including the adoption of a constitution.[12]

[1] “10,000 Yemeni forces defect from government, join protesters: official,” Xinhua, April 14, 2011. Available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-04/13/c_13827610.htm
[2] “Press Release 3082nd Council meeting,” Council of the European Union, April 13, 2011. Available: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/EN/foraff/121506.pdf
[3] “Die in Yemen as Opposition Awaits GCC Details,” The National, April 14, 2011. Available: http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/seven-die-in-yemen-as-opposition-awaits-gcc-details
[4] “Yemen opposition spurns talks, sets Saleh deadline,” Reuters, April 14, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/14/us-yemen-talks-idUSTRE73D1SG20110414
[5] “Shabaab Claims Bombing a Hilux Vehicle, Sentencing Murder,” SITE Intel Group, April 11, 2011. Available at SITE.
[6] “10 die in Somalia clashes,” Garowe Online, April 12, 2011. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/10_die_in_Somalia_clashes.shtml
[7] “Somalia: Raskamboni fighters say al Shabaab fighters give in,” Shabelle Media Networks, April 14, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=5533
[8] Keith Johnson, “FBI Snatches Alleged Pirate Inside Somalia,” The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2011. Available: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704547804576261301548767880.html
[9] “Somalia: Puntland bans weapons trading inside its territories,” Shabelle Media Network, April 13, 2011. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=5518
[10] “Somali president charges al Shabaab with misguiding youths,” Shabelle Media Network, April 13, 2011. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=5511
[11] “Somali ambassador to Syria condemns Mahiga’s recent steps,” Shabelle Media Networks, April 14, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=5532