Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 15, 2013

Yemen: Three Westerners kidnapped in Sana’a now in AQAP custody; Yemeni authorities prosecuting 19 suspected Iranian spies according to Kuwaiti news source; military units charged with presidential protection deployed in south Sana’a while former First Armored Division soldiers withdraw; commander of 29th Mechanized Brigade reinstated; President Hadi refuses MG al Ahmar’s proposed appointment for Western Military District; military police in Taiz assault protesters; President Hadi affirms commitment to restructuring interior ministry; Houthi representatives boycott meeting with Hadi due to presence of U.S. ambassador; GPC rejects 2013 budget proposal

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab decides fate of French hostage, tweets pictures of dead French soldier; Somali Defense Minister says the Somali government was not informed about the French rescue mission; Somali police conduct security operations in Mogadishu; Somali military court sentences seven people to prison; Somali president to meet with Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C.; AU Peace and Security council issues a press release after 350th meeting; UK to hold international conference on Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Tribesmen have sold three foreign hostages captured on December 21, 2012 in Sana’a to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who subsequently transferred them to al Bayda governorate in southern Yemen, a Yemeni Interior Ministry official told Reuters on January 14. Negotiations are in progress to free the hostages.[1]
  • The Yemeni security apparatus is handing over 19 individuals accused of being Iranian spies to Yemeni legal authorities for prosecution according to a January 15 article in Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah. An unnamed senior security source claimed on January 15 that among the suspects, eight are Iranian Revolutionary Guard members who were living undercover in Yemen, three are Lebanese, one is Syrian, and the rest are Yemenis. A number of them reportedly worked for the now-closed Iranian Hospital in Sana’a, from which they passed tens of thousands of dollars to Iranian agents in Yemen. The source accused the defendants of inciting discord in a conspiracy to split Yemen into three parts, and claimed that they had received training from Hezbollah in south Lebanon.[2]
  • Military units charged with presidential protection were deployed widely throughout southern Sana’a and in the vicinity of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s home, coinciding with the surprise withdrawal of troops of the dissolved First Armored Division from positions guarding the Presidential Palace.[3]
  • Southern Military District commanders ordered the arrest of members of the 15th Infantry Brigade, who stand accused of attacking the central prison in Zinjibar district, Abyan and releasing  its inmates on January 14.[4]
  • Brigadier General Hafezullah al Sadmi resumed command of the 29th Mechanized Brigade on January 15 after a mutiny and counter-protest by troops under his command.[5]
  • President Hadi refused to appoint Brigadier General Hamid al Qushaybi, a military leader loyal to Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, as commander of Yemen’s Western Military District. Unnamed sources reported on January 15 that Major General al Ahmar had proposed this, in exchange for renouncing his personal command of the Western Military District and agreeing to the proposed split between the Western and Northern Military Districts.[6]
  • Military police in Taiz assaulted protesters at the gate of the governorate on January 13. Families of those killed in the 2011 Yemen uprising have staged a sit-in, protesting provisions in the proposed transitional justice law that they perceive to be unfair.[7]
  • President Hadi stated his commitment to restructuring the Yemeni Interior Ministry to reflect recent technological and organizational developments, in a meeting with the EU Ambassador to Yemen Bettina Muscheidt and Jordanian Ambassador to Yemen Sulayman al Ghweiri on January 15. President Hadi also received a draft of the proposed restructuring from the Interior Ministry, and stated that final decision-making on the specifics would take place within the next few weeks.[8]
  • Houthi representatives boycotted a meeting with President Hadi on January 14 because of the presence of U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein.[9]
  • Yemeni politician Sultan al Burkani announced the General People’s Congress’s (GPC) rejection of the 2013 budget proposal in the Yemeni parliament on January 15, claiming that the current proposal violated the Yemeni constitution, and would raise the national debt to 13 billion Riyals.[10]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab posted a message on its Twitter feed on January 14, saying that they have decided the fate of French hostage Denis Allex. The French government says they believe Allex to have died in the raid, however, al Shabaab asserts he is still alive. Al Shabaab also posted a photo of a French soldier who died during the operation with a cross on his chest.[11]
  • Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Mohamud Fiqi told the press that the Somali government was not informed of the French rescue mission and that France acted unilaterally.[12]
  • Somali police and security forces conducted security operation in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu on January 14 and the Wadajir district of Mogadishu on January 15. In the Heliwa district 447 were arrested and 137 are still in custody. In the Wadajir district nearly 2,000 were arrested and 114 are still in custody.[13]
  • A Somali military court sentenced seven soldiers and civilians to 10 years in jail on January 15. The seven people incarcerated pled guilty to charges of rape and abductions.[14]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on January 17. President Mohamud landed in Washington, D.C. on January 14 and will be staying for several days.[15]
  • The Peace and Security Council of the African Union issued a press release following its 350th meeting on January 14.The press release welcomed the advances made against al Shabaab but reiterated all member states must continue to help in order to stabilize Somalia.[16]
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Britain will hold another international conference concerning the future of Somalia on May 7. The purpose of the conference is to raise money and increase support for the progress being made in Somalia.[17]    

[1]  "Yemen Says al Qaeda Holding Western Hostages," Reuters, January 15, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/15/us-yemen-hostages-idUSBRE90E0AB20130115
[2] “Yemen Tracking Elements of an Iranian Spy Cell Through Interpol,”  al Seyassah, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.al-seyassah.com/AtricleView/tabid/59/smid/438/ArticleID/226183/reftab/36/Default.aspx
[3] “Hadi Refuses to Appoint al Qushaybi Leader of the Western District, and the Division is Excused from Protecting his Home,” Barakish Net, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=42928
[4] “Soldiers of the 15th Infantry Brigade in Abyan raid the central prison in Zinjibar and free the prisoners,” Aden Press, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://sahafah.net/show960908.html
[5] “Military Source in Harf Sufyan: ‘Giants’ Brigade Commander Resumes Work,” Barakish Net, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=42911
[6] “Hadi Refuses to Appoint al Qushaybi Leader of the Western District, and the Division is Excused from Protecting his Home,” Barakish Net, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=42928
[7] “Military Police in Taiz Storm Martyr’s Families Camp in Front of the Province, and Use Batons to Break Up the Sit-In,” News Yemen, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://newsyemen.net/subject.asp?sub_no=News/2013/141/9430.asp&sub_ano=1&sub_gno=
[8] “President of the Republic Will Pay Maximum Attention to Structuring the Interior Ministry,” Saba Net, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/ar/news295074.htm
“President Hadi receives first draft of plan to restructure Ministry of the Interior,” al Masdar Online, Janaury 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/40457
[9] “Houthis Cut Off Meeting with Hadi Because of American Ambassador’s Presence,” Barakish Net, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=42926#stv_content_2
[10] “The Conference Announces its Refusal of the Budget and Considers it Disastrous,” Barakish Net, January 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=42949
[11] “Somali Militants Say ‘Fate’ of French Hostage Decided,” Daily Nation, January 14, 2013. Available: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/1665966/-/15bs3kn/-/index.html
“Al Shabaab Militants in Somalia Post Alleged Photo of French Commando Killed in Botched Raid,” CBS News, January 14, 2013. Available: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57563817/al-shabab-militants-in-somalia-post-alleged-photo-of-french-commando-killed-in-botched-raid/
“Al Shabaab Tweet,” HSM Press Office, January 14, 2013. Available: https://twitter.com/HSMPress/status/290812010076188672
“Shabaab Says French Commander Died in it Custody,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 14, 2013. Available at SITE.
[12] “Somalia Government ‘Uninformed’ of French Raid: Defense Minister,” Garowe, January 14, 2013. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_govt_uninformed_of_French_raid_Defense_Minister.shtml
[13] “Security Operations Underway in Wadajir District in the Capital,” Shabelle, January 15, 2013. Available: http://shabelle.net/security-operations-underway-in-wadajir-district-in-the-capital/
“Thousand Arrested in Mogadishu Sweep,” Bar Kulan, January 15, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/15/thousands-arrested-in-mogadishu-swoop
[14] “Somali Military Court Jails Seven on Various Charges,” Bar Kulan, January 15, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/january-15-2013-daily-monitoring-report/
[15] “President Mohamud to Meet Hillary Clinton Thursday,” December 15, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/15/president-mohamud-to-meet-hillary-clinton-thursday/
[16] “Communiqué” AMISOM, January 14, 2013. Available: http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/psc-com-350-somali14-01-2013.pdf