Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 28, 2011
Yemen: President Saleh calls Emir of Qatar to protest al Jazeera coverage; State Department supports peaceful protest in Yemen; UN and Yemeni officials meet to discuss al Qaeda and Taliban resolutions; Yemen Post reports rally of 100,000 opposition supporters; Yemeni official says country faces “perfect storm” of problems
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab leader urges fighters to show justice to civilians; TFG ends contract with Saracen International; TFG soldier kills one civilian following argument; al Shabaab publicly lashes nine civilians; African Development Bank announces $655,000 in relief aid; Puntland agrees to allow foreign aid agencies to operate
Yemen Security Brief
- President Saleh telephoned Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, asking him to pressure al Jazeera Satellite Channel to revise its coverage of protests in Yemen. According to SABA Net, Yemen’s News Agency, Saleh said that “What the channel is doing only serves the Zionist entity and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda as well as the enemies of the Arab seeking to ignite dissent and threatening the future of the next generations.”
- State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, speaking during his daily press briefing, told reporters that “we’re aware that there are protests in Sana’a and other Yemeni cities…We support the right of the Yemeni people to express themselves and assemble freely,” adding that “part of the solution to combating violent extremism in Yemen is political and economic reform.”
- Yemeni deputy foreign minister Ali Muthana met with Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN al Qaeda-Taliban monitoring team, to discuss Yemen’s progress in implementing UN Security Council resolutions regarding al Qaeda and the Taliban and to review the security situation in Yemen.
- The Yemen Post reported that over 100,000 protestors rallied against the ruling party, chanting anti-government phrases while demonstrating peacefully. Joint Meeting Parties official Zaid al Shami praised the police and security forces saying, “It is not like Egypt, we protest peacefully and security forces are wise enough to understand that we are not here to cause problems, but rather to express our concerns for the better of the country.”
- Deputy finance minister Jalal Yaqoub told Reuters that Yemen currently faces of “perfect storm” of challenges and that “change must come from within” and “the government should listen to the people and enact substantial reforms.” Yaqoub expressed support for President Saleh, saying “I believe that President Saleh remains the only one who can maintain the stability of this country,” and cautioned that “I fear that if the majority of people go down to the street neither we nor opposition will be able to control the situation. It could get ugly very quickly.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, a leading official in al Shabaab, issued an audio message urging his followers to show justice in areas the group controls. The message follows protests against al Shabaab in regions of southern Somalia where the group has refused to allow foreign aid agencies to operate.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced that the TFG cabinet had voted unanimously to terminate its contract with UK based security contractor Saracen International and had banned the group from operating inside Somalia.
- A disagreement between a group of civilians and a TFG soldier in Mogadishu turned violent when a soldier killed a woman who tried to grab his rifle. The incident occurred in the Waberi district of Mogadishu.
- Al Shabaab militants publicly lashed nine people, two of whom were accused of theft while the other seven reportedly viewed pornographic videos on their phones, in the village of Lafole.
- The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank agreed to contribute $655,000 in emergency relief to Somalia, to be administered through Africa Humanitarian Action under the auspices of the TFG. The fund is earmarked for improving health and nutrition, water quality, sanitation and community activism.
- Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, speaking following a meeting with UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mike Bowden, announced that foreign relief agencies, including the UN, will now be allowed to operate in Puntland.