Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 20, 2012
Yemen: Gunmen kill three Yemeni soldiers at Aden checkpoint; Obama administration seeking to facilitate Saleh’s departure; record number of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa leave their home countries for Yemen in 2011
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and TFG forces launch offensive, seizing northern Mogadishu and its outskirts from al Shabaab; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a kills at least ten al Shabaab fighters and one leader; landmine hits Ethiopian military vehicle in Beledweyne
Yemen Security Brief
- A Yemeni security official reported that three Yemeni soldiers were killed and a police vehicle set on a fire in an attack on a checkpoint in Aden. The identity of the gunmen was not mentioned, but al Qaeda-linked militants have carried out several attacks against government forces in southern Yemen.
- Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan is leading diplomatic efforts to facilitate Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s permanent departure from Yemen. On January 17, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. regrets “that [President Saleh] has thus far failed to comply with his own commitments to leave the country and to permit elections to go forward, that could give the people a chance to be heard and represented.”
- According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a record 103,000 refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa traveled to Yemen in 2011, nearly double the 53,000 figure for 2010. The vast majority of the 103,000 (76,000) are Ethiopians who cite economic hardship as a motivating factor. The total figure also includes Somali refugees fleeing the deteriorating security situation in Somalia.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces launched a major offensive, securing areas of northern Mogadishu and taking control of a strategic road linking Mogadishu with Afgoi. An AMISOM spokesman said,"This is the first time Amisom has been able to secure an area outside the parameters of the city allowing them to defend greater Mogadishu." The 1,000-strong AMISOM and TFG force, backed by 20 tanks, took three al Shabaab bases during the operation. Two AMISOM soldiers were injured; three civilians were killed and two injured. Al Shabaab has admitted that it lost the areas. TFG Colonel Abdullahi Ali Anod said, “I can confirm that we have reached Daynille district and Suqa Hoolaha [northern neighborhoods of Mogadishu], which were their strongholds.”
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a announced that its fighters killed at least ten al Shabaab militants and one of the militant group’s leaders in a battle just outside of Dhusamereb in central Somalia.
- An Ethiopian military vehicle was hit by a remotely-detonated landmine on January 19 in Beledweyne, in central Somalia. None of the targeted soldiers were killed, but two civilians died in the blast and five more were injured. Ethiopian soldiers arrested ten suspects, but no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.