Gulf of Aden Security Review - August 30, 2010

Yemen: President Saleh says al Qaeda is biggest threat; al Qaeda claims credit for attack in Abyan governorate; oil companies close due to threat of al Qaeda; Yemeni official denies presence of U.S., British forces; security forces clash with protestors in Sana’a; U.S. military aid to provide Hummers, helicopters, to Yemeni security forces

Horn of Africa: TFG appeals for assistance; mortar strike kills four Ugandans inside Villa Somalia; AMISOM, al Shabaab close strategic street in Mogadishu as government forces lose ground; al Shabaab developing media capability, overtakes Somali radio station, according to TFG; Danish navy helicopter foils pirate attack off Somali coast; Ethiopian government denies reports of Somali intervention; TFG security forces reportedly retake control of military base seized by militants; six civilians killed in Mogadishu as fighting enters second week

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said that al Qaeda is the biggest threat to the state.  He added, “The citizens should stand by the side of the state.  These terrorists . . . are harming the nation’s and the citizens’ interests.”[1]

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed credit for an attack on a Yemeni checkpoint outside of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate.  Militants targeted the army post at sunset and attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.  Eleven soldiers and a civilian were killed.[2]

  • Yemeni-based oil companies shut down operations on Friday after receiving threats from al Qaeda. Several companies informed employees that they would remain closed until further notice.[3]

  • A Yemeni official denied reports Saturday the presence of U.S. and British forces in Yemen. The official said that “Yemen doesn’t accept any foreign military existence on its land” and that cooperation is restricted only to information exchange. This comes after British officials said Thursday that twenty members of the Royal Navy were based in Yemen.[4]

  • Security forces clashed with approximately fifty protestors in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, Saturday. The protestors were reportedly demanding previously promised compensation for injuries sustain in the conflict in northern Sa’ada.[5]

  • The U.S. Department of Defense said that the $155 million in military aid will be spent by the end of September of equipment to help the Yemeni government fight al Qaeda, which is a significant increase from the $67 million provide to Yemen in 2009. The Pentagon plans to equip Yemeni security forces with Hummers, combat radio systems and night vision goggles, and it also plans to purchase four Huey helicopters. A Pentagon spokesman said that the helicopters will allow security forces to “transport small counter-terror units for day or nighttime operations at high altitudes.”[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Transitional Federal Government appealed for help following last week’s violence in Mogadishu.  President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said that the world ought to give the violence executed by al Shabaab in Somalia the same consideration that it gives to al Qaeda attacks against governments in Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan.[7]

  • An al Shabaab-fired mortar hit inside the grounds of the presidential palace, killing four Ugandan peacekeepers and injuring eight other people.[8]

  • AMISOM forces and al Shabaab militants clashed Saturday along the Makka al Mukarama, the main road that connects Villa Somalia and government ministries with the airport. This comes as militants have pushed back the front lines, decreasing the area the government currently controls.[9]

  • Al Shabaab militants took control of a Mogadishu radio station and is developing its media capability, government officials announced. Minister of Information, Abdirahman Omar Osman, said Saturday that the militants “want to silence independent media with brutality and intolerance. We know that they are desperate to develop their own media capability so that they can start to impose their will over an even wider population.”[10]

  • A Danish helicopter foiled a pirate attack Saturday on a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, a Danish navy spokesman said. The Danish ship Esbern Snare, which is under NATO operational control, launched a helicopter in response to a distress call from the merchant vessel. The spokesman said that when “the helicopter went over there . . . the pirates aborted their attack and tried to head for Somalia.”[11]

  • Ethiopia denied reports Saturday that it has sent troops into Somalia and says that it has no plans to “intervene at this point.” Various reports surfaced Saturday that about 1,000 Ethiopian soldiers had crossed into Somali and were heading toward Beledehawa and Elwak.[12]

  • Officials say that TFG forces have retaken control of an Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a military base, which was seized by al Shabaab militants Sunday. Three people were reportedly killed and five others were wounded as fighting continued Sunday.[13]

  • Fighting in Mogadishu between government forces and al Shabaab militants entered a second week.  Six civilians have been killed thus far.[14]



[1] “Yemen Says al-Qaida is Government’s Main Challenge,” AP, August 29, 2010.  Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jyZ4yhVqAu5yqaNFXVY9748IMsNwD9HT47880
[2] “Qaeda says Responsible for Killing 8 Yemen Troops,” Reuters, August 28, 2010.  Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67R1GK20100828
“Death Toll Rises to 12 in Yemen Army Post Attack,” AFP, August 28, 2010.  Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hp-LwqUtGRO0TzYluaSQ_ft0AZ7w
[3] “Oil companies in Yemen close over al Qaeda threats,” News Yemen, August 28, 2010. Available: http://www.newsyemen.net/en/view_news.asp?sub_no=3_2010_08_28_40126
[4] “Official source denies US, British forces in Yemen,” News Yemen, August 29, 2010. Available: http://www.newsyemen.net/en/view_news.asp?sub_no=3_2010_08_29_40128
[5] “Security clashes with former pro-government warriors,” News Yemen, August 29, 2010. Available: http://www.newsyemen.net/en/view_news.asp?sub_no=3_2010_08_29_40127
[6] “Military Aid to Yemen Doubles as U.S. Aims to Boost Fight Against Al-Qaeda,” August 25, 2010. Available: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-25/military-aid-to-yemen-doubles-as-u-s-aims-to-boost-fight-against-al-qaeda.html
[7] “Somali Gov’t Appeals for Help to Fight Militants,” AP, August 30, 2010.  Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g7OaI4_kjeHA-o4UhlmP7vlWmrrwD9HTO4KG0
[8] “Mortar Hits Somalia Pres. Palace, Kills 4 Ugandans,” AP, August 30, 2010.  Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/30/AR2010083001197.html
[9] “A capital on edge after hotel attack during Ramadan,” The Washington Post, August 28, 2010. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/27/AR2010082705287.html
[10] “al Shabaab developing own media capability, warns TFG,” Hiiraan Online, August 29, 2010. Available: http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2010/Aug/somalia_al_shabab_developing_own_media_capability_warns_tfg.aspx
[11] “Danish navy helicopter foils pirate attack off Somali coast,” Shabelle Media Network, August 29, 2010. Available: http://shabelle.net/news-in-english/41-news-in-english-content/1901-danish-navy-helicopter-foils-pirate-attack-off-somali-coast
[12] “Ethiopian Government Denies Plans to Intervene in Somalia ‘At This Point,” Garowe Online, August 28, 2010. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Africa_22/Ethiopian_Government_Denies_Plans_to_Intervene_in_Somalia_At_This_Point.shtml
[13] “Somali government says it took over control of military base from al Shabaab,” Shabelle Media Network, August 29, 2010. Available: http://shabelle.net/news-in-english/41-news-in-english-content/1912-somali-government-says-it-took-over-control-of-military-base-from-al-shabab-
[14] “6 Somali civilians killed in violence in Mogadishu,” AP, August 30, 2010. Available: http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2010/Aug/6_somali_civilians_killed_in_violence_in_mogadishu.aspx