Gulf of Aden Security Review - August 9, 2011
Yemen: Gunmen attack security patrol; security forces target al Qaeda-linked militants; U.S. says transition process can move forward without Saleh; Republican Guard forces clash with tribesmen; protestors march in Ibb; Yemeni Foreign Minister gives statement; ceasefire holds in Taiz
Horn of Africa: TFG troops arrest al Shabaab fighters; al Shabaab fighters clash with TFG and AMISOM troops; al Shabaab members die in vehicular explosion; Somali TFG offers amnesty to al Shabaab in Mogadishu; AMISOM releases statement; President Obama approves additional aid
Yemen Security Brief
- Two unidentified gunmen attacked a security patrol in Khormaksar district in Aden governorate, killing one soldier and injuring another. In a separate incident two unidentified men threw two explosive devices at a government building in al Mualla. The perpetrators succeeding in fleeing. No casualties were reported due to the attack.
- Yemeni security forces clashed with al Qaeda-linked militants in control of Zinjibar on August 8. A security official reported that the 25th mechanized brigade conducted multiple operations near Zinjibar targeting militants. At least three militants were killed and five others wounded during Monday’s operations. The official added that multiple were airstrikes were carried out during the operations throughout Abyan governorate, though they failed to produce any casualties.
- U.S. State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner commented on the political situation in Yemen following President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s release from a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Toner commented, “We’ve called for an immediate, peaceful, and orderly transition...we’ve also said that this is something that cannot wait until a decision is made regarding President Saleh’s future.” Toner continued by noting that Yemen had an acting President already in place. When asked if Saleh was essential to progress in Yemen, Toner responded, “it can move forward without him.”
- Clashes between Republican Guard forces and tribesmen continued in Arhab, north of Sana’a, on August 8. At least one civilian was killed by shelling from Republican Guard forces. Republican Guard soldiers shot and injured two tribesmen when they passed close by the military base in Sama’e.
- Large numbers of Yemenis protested in Ibb governorate on August 8. The protestors called for the international community to support the popular revolution against President Saleh’s regime. They also condemned various military operations conducted in Sana’a, Taiz, and Abyan. Protestors also reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful revolution.
- Yemeni Foreign Minister al Qirbi commented on the political crisis in Yemen. In a television interview, al Qirbi stated that “Those who think the solution to our problem will not be a political one are wrong because the Yemeni society is divided to two groups: pro and anti-regime… if I ask half of the Yemeni people to go out to change the regime, I am sure the second half will seek changing the new regime in six months.” He continued, “The current crisis requires us to reconsider the GCC plan and put it in a practical framework to start a constitutional and orderly transfer of power.”
- Tribal elders in Taiz agreed to reenact a ceasefire agreement on August 8. The agreement was put into effect on August 9. Locals report that since the agreement has been signed Taiz has been “relatively peaceful,” noting that no clashes have broken out thus far. Local sources claimed that the head of the Republican Guard signed off on the current ceasefire agreement, fully aware of the terms imposed by local armed tribesmen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) police arrested multiple al Shabaab-linked suspects in Mogadishu on August 8. Police searched neighborhoods from which al Shabaab has recently withdrawn, including in Hamar Bile neighborhood. Police arrested four individuals suspected of affiliation with al Shabaab and transferred them to the central government to stand trial.
- Al Shabaab fighters clashed with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM troops overnight in Mogadishu. At least one person was killed and some others wounded by shelling in Dharkenley district. Light and heavy clashes continued in northern Mogadishu near Kax-Shiqal neighborhood. The majority of Mogadishu city is now under the control of Somali forces. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab claimed that al Shabaab was in the process of mounting an offensive in Mogadishu. He claimed the group attacked TFG- and AMISOM-controlled bases, inflicting “heavy losses.” Somali national army General Abdikarim Yusuf Adam denied the claim, noting al Shabaab “completely failed” to mount an offensive.
- Al Shabaab chairman in the Banadir region Sheikh Mohammed Abu Abdurrahman reported that an al Shabaab fighter’s car exploded in KM-13, south of Mogadishu. The car was completely destroyed and at least three al Shabaab members were killed as a result. Some reports indicate the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb though others claim the explosion resulted from explosives already on board the vehicle to be used in a suicide attack.
- The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) offered amnesty to al Shabaab fighters willing to lay down their weapons in Mogadishu. The government released a statement in which it offered “amnesty to insurgent fighters remaining in Mogadishu who give themselves up and renounce violence.” The offer of amnesty was not extended to al Shabaab fighters outside of Mogadishu.
- African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) released a statement regarding extremists. AMISOM force commander Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha stated al Qaeda-linked extremists' retreat from Mogadishu was a result of the pressure of the Somali national army and AMISOM troops. He noted, “They did not abandon Mogadishu of their own free will.” The commander also clarified that al Shabaab fighters have “not withdrawn completely” from the city.
- The White House press secretary released a statement announcing the U.S. president’s approval for an additional $105 million for humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The statement described that “the President has approved an additional $105 million for urgent humanitarian relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, including funds from his Emergency Relief and Migration Assistance Fund. This year alone, the U.S. has provided approximately $565 million in humanitarian assistance. U.S. assistance will continue funding the urgently needed food, health, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to those who desperately need help.”