Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 20, 2011
Yemen: Students rally at Sana’a University; Southern Movement supporters riot in Aden; Fadhli stages demonstration in Zinjibar; man sets fire to himself in protest; UNDP head arrives in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Four people killed in Mogadishu skirmishes; hundreds protest in Mogadishu against al Shabaab; al Shabaab arrests fifty after protest in Middle Shabelle region; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a spokesman says al Shabaab kidnaps Muslim clerics and scholars; Shabelle Media Network targeted by al Shabaab; three people escape from al Shabaab jail; al Shabaab fighters create checkpoint in Afgoi corridor; TFG returns stolen armored vehicle to UNICEF
Yemen Security Brief
- Hundreds of student demonstrators gathered at Sana’a University, but were prevented from taking their rally to the streets after police surrounded the campus. Four students associated with the Islah party were accused of leading the protest, with the aid of the Joint Meeting Parties, and were arrested. The students expressed their support for the Tunisian people and rallied against the current administration in Yemen, chanting “Revolution, revolution, the youth are against the corrupt regime. The President should leave, the situation should be straightened out.” Eyewitnesses reported that security forces beat multiple protestors and smashed the windows of a parked car.
- Skirmishes between security forces and Southern Movement supporters in Aden left seven injured. The demonstrators burned tires and attacked police with rocks before the police responded with tear gas. Witnesses reported dozens were arrested, and security officials said that firefights occurred in al Saada neighborhood. Earlier this week, Southern Movement leaders Ali Salem al Beidh and Hassan Baoum had proclaimed Tuesday a “day of rage” and incited anti-government protests.
- Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee reported that Tariq al Fadhli burned the American flag, the Yemeni flag, the flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the green flag of the separatist movement on January 19, along with the pictures of former southern leaders Ali Salem al Beidh, Ali Nasser Mohammed, and Haidar Abu Bakr al Attas. Fadhli held a rally at his house in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate and said, “Our tan arms will remain (to fight) and our foreheads will be our flags.” Fadhli accused the U.S., Yemen, and Yemeni leaders of ignoring Yemeni civilians’ rights.
- A man in Rada’a, in Baidha province, doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze in protest against the Yemeni government before being rushed to a hospital in Sana’a.
- Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Program, met with Yemeni Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Hisham Sharaf to discuss potential future cooperation in the development field.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Four people were killed in Mogadishu when AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces clashed with al Shabaab militants following raids on AMISOM bases in Hodan, Hawl Wadag and Bondhere districts in Mogadishu.
- Hundreds of civilians took to the streets in Mogadishu to protest against al Shabaab, chanting and waving signs reading, “We don’t want the mad and cruel militants” and “Stop harassing and intimidating people and open access for the needy Somalis to get assistance.” Warsame Mohammed Jodah, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, assured the crowd that his administration is committed to removing all obstacles preventing aid from reaching drought-affected civilians. 
- On Tuesday approximately fifty civilians were taken into custody by al Shabaab during a protest in el Arfid in the Middle Shabelle region after al Shabaab militants destroyed several bags of maize. Locals report that al Shabaab has imposed a 9:30pm to dawn curfew, and that at least eight people have already been arrested for being out after hours.
- Mohammed Ahmed Shuriye, spokesman of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, told Shabelle Media Network that al Shabaab fighters have been arresting dissenting clerics and religious scholars in Elasha Biya and Lafole and imprisoning them in the Lower and Middle Shabelle and Lower Jubba regions. Shuriye said that “Ahlu Sunna fighters play a crucial role in the battles that are going on in Mogadishu,” and pledged to redouble efforts against al Shabaab.
- Shabelle Media Network announced that al Shabaab’s latest “idiotic tactic” in their “war” against the network involves broadcasting Qur’an verses on the same frequency as Shabelle radio. Using radios captured in raids on Shabelle offices, al Shabaab programming has replaced Shabelle in Suqa Holaha, Bakara Market, Elasha Biya, Lafole, and other areas. Shabelle, which had been chased out of its Bakara Market headquarters in mid-2010 by al Shabaab, prides itself on being “the only impartial radio station in Somalia” and pledged not to fold under the pressure.
- Three prisoners escaped from an al Shabaab jail in Galad, in the Galgudud region, accompanied by an al Shabaab official who aided the fugitives and fled with them. Locals report that one of the escapees had been sentenced to death as punishment for making videos mocking al Shabaab officials.
- Al Shabaab militants in the Afgoi corridor created a new checkpoint along a busy road and have begun taxing public buses 10,000 Somali shillings for the right to travel between Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle region.
- Ali Jowhar, the TFG Commissioner for the Middle Shabelle region, announced that the TFG has returned a bullet proof vehicle to UNICEF officials following its recovery from al Shabaab militants who originally captured it, along with another armored UNICEF vehicle, after occupying the town of Jowhar in 2009.