Gulf of Aden Security Review - April 26, 2012
Yemen: White House approves expansion of CIA drone program in Yemen; American experts training Yemeni Coast Guard; Yemen’s Military Committee preparing proposals for military restructuring; armed tribesmen arrest Ansar al Sharia suspects in Lahij; militants attack Republican Guard patrol in Rada’a; Yemeni military shells Lawder; Yemeni security forces uncover explosive device in Aden
Horn of Africa: Ethiopian troops backed by Ahlu Sunna clash with al Shabaab militants in Galgudud region; several al Shabaab militants reportedly defect to TFG; police arrest man in Galkayo for possessing explosives; U.S. to provide $120 million in humanitarian aid to Horn of Africa; al Shabaab claims April 17 suicide bombing in Baidoa in Bay region; Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister allegedly visits Kenya
Yemen Security Brief
- President Barack Obama has approved an expansion of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen this month to include the use of strikes that would target individuals with suspicious patterns of behavior in addition to clearly-defined, named individuals with known terrorist ties, according to reports. Yemeni officials announced the same day that, while they want more counterterrorism training and drone strikes from the United States, they do not approve of "signature strikes", which the United States currently uses in Pakistan. This is a wider approach that targets even low-level operatives.
- American experts are training the Yemeni Coast Guard in telecommunication devices, provided by the U.S. government, to help secure Yemeni shores from drug trafficking, piracy, and illegal immigration.
- Yemen’s Military Committee is preparing a proposal for restructuring the military and security services, Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed said on April 25. He emphasized that the armed forces would withdraw from Sana’a and reopen roads. Ahmed also promised to increase living standards for members of the Yemeni military.
- Armed tribesmen arrested eight individuals suspected of being linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Lahij governorate. Four of the suspects are Yemeni, two are Saudi, and two are Syrian. Local sources noted that Ansar al Sharia militants had increasingly threatened to attack Yafa’a in Lahij.
- Militants attacked a Republican Guard patrol in Rada’a in al Bayda governorate, killing one soldier and wounding another. One of the militants was arrested.
- Military sources reported on April 25 that the 111th Infantry Brigade fired artillery at Ansar al Sharia sites in Omhidan, an area in Lawder district in Abyan governorate, killing eight militants.
- Yemeni security agents in Aden were able to defuse a 400-kilogram improvised explosive device (IED) on April 25. They reported that the blast was intended to target important facilities in the city.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Witnesses said that overnight clashes between Ethiopian troops, backed by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, and al Shabaab militants killed six people in Elbur in Galgudud region. Residents stated that the town is still under Ethiopian control.
- Somali military officials reported that several al Shabaab militants defected to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Qoqani in Lower Jubba region. The militants reportedly crossed the frontlines of Qoqani overnight, carrying small arms and riding technical vehicles.
- Chief of police in Mudug region Colonel Jama Mohamed Ahmed reported on April 25 that a man was arrested for the possession of a “large amount of explosives” in Galkayo. Col. Ahmed did not explicitly state that the man had connections with al Shabaab, but said that he was originally from southern Somalia.
- In a statement released by the White House, the U.S. announced that it will provide an additional $120 million in aid to the Horn of Africa. The White House announced that the aid serves to prevent the escalation of a food crisis in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia following a severe drought last year.
- Al Shabaab released twelve communiqués on jihadist forums through its media wing al Kata’ib Media Foundation on April 24. In the statement, al Shabaab claims several attacks against Ethiopian and Somali targets. Most notably, al Shabaab claims responsibility for the April 17 suicide bombing in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region. In addition, al Shabaab reported that they burned a large quantity of expired food allegedly provided by Turkey in Lower Shabelle region.
- Iran’s Press TV reported that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein-Amir Abdollahian visited Kenya to discuss multimillion-dollar projects, expanding tourism, and coordinating efforts to combat terrorism in the region. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Secretary allegedly reiterated support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. Abdollahian is reportedly set to visit Djibouti and Somalia as well.