Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 30, 2013

Yemen: Fighting between Yemeni Army forces and Ansar al Sharia near Rada’a ceases after tribal negotiation, and car bomb explodes near army checkpoint in Ahram mountain; car bomb explodes near Yemeni Central Security camp in al Bayda city; Benomar meets with former President Saleh and Ahmed Saleh; President Hadi orders Ahmed Saleh to command of Republican Guard units; former President Saleh responsible for 2011 sacking of Yemen TV headquarters; gunman opens fire in qat market in Aden; al Houthi militants in Harf Sufyan, Amran governorate halt work of reconstruction committees; motorcycle gunman kills and wounds Central Security officers in al Dhaleh city; rescue police clash with armed tribesmen in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Kenya launches airstrikes on an al Shabaab base in Gadondhawe, Gedo region; al Shabaab releases 11 communiqués; al Shabaab claims responsibility for the suicide bombing at Villa Somalia, Mogadishu; Somali prime minister meets with UN officials in Mogadishu; South African president pledges support to new Somali government; Somali foreign minister hails Somali-Chinese relations; Kenyan defense minister says hostages taken by al Shabaab are government employees, not combatants

Yemen Security Brief

  • Fighting between Yemeni Army forces and Ansar al Sharia militants in Rada’a, al Bayda governorate ceased on January 29, after mediators from the Murad tribe in Ma’rib, led by Sheikh Mohammad Ahmad al Qarda’ai and Ma’rib Sheikh Nasser Ahmad al ‘Aji were successful in negotiating a cease-fire between the two parties. Previously, the military operation was divided into two fronts: the first, near the Khabza area and Tha’alib mountain, and the other, toward an area known as “Hama Sarar” and the town of al Manaseh, involving four conventional Yemeni brigades and two special operations battalions. At least 15 Ansar al Sharia militants were reported killed in the operation, and security sources claimed that hundreds of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters had traveled from Abyan to al Bayda to combat Yemeni armed forces. It was also reported that the kidnappers of the three foreign hostages seized on December 21 are demanding a payment of $5 million U.S. In a related incident, a car bomb exploded near an army checkpoint in nearby Ahram mountain, killing 14 soldiers and two civilians, and wounding 17 soldiers and five civilians.[1]
  • A car bomb exploded in the city of al Bayda near a Yemeni Central Security camp on January 29. No casualties were reported.[2]
  • UN Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar reportedly met with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Saleh, former head of the Republican Guard, on January 29 in Sana’a.[3]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reportedly held an unannounced meeting with Brigadier General Ahmed Saleh in the Presidential Palace in Sana’a on January 30. A source reported to al Jamhour Net that Hadi charged Ali to take command of the Republican Guard units that had not yet been part of the December 19 military restructuring.[4]
  • Sources reported that former President Saleh was responsible for the destruction of equipment, media, and nearly 10,000 documentary tapes that were destroyed or stolen from Yemen TV during the 2011 Yemen Uprising, in a January 29 article in al Masdar Online.[5]
  • A gunman opened fire in the qat market in Khormaksar, Aden, killing one and injuring at least five on January 30.[6]
  • Al Houthi militants in Harf Sufyan, Amran governorate halted the work of reconstruction committees on January 28.[7]
  • A gunman on a motorcycle fired on Central Security officers on Jamarek Street in al Dhaleh city, killing one and wounding two on January 30. Central Security officers chased and later clashed with militants in the city.[8]
  • Rescue police clashed with armed tribesmen behind the ‘Adhban building in Sana’a on January 30. Casualty statistics have not been reported.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenya launched airstrikes against an al Shabaab base in Gadondhawe, Gedo region on January 30. Three Kenyan warplanes targeted al Shabaab locations for 30 minutes. Exact casualties from the incident are not known.[10]
  • Al Shabaab released 11 communiqués on January 22 claiming 18 attacks between January 7 and 17 in Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers in Bay, Bakool, Banadir, Jubba and Lower Shabelle regions. It also commented on the failed French rescue attempt during which, al Shabaab claims, French troops killed many civilians.[11]
  • Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the January 29 suicide attack on Villa Somalia, Mogadishu on the same day via local broadcast. Al Shabaab says its bomber killed seven government soldiers in the attack.[12]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met with UN officials in Mogadishu on January 30, to discuss UN support for Somali political and economic stabilization.[13]
  • South African President Jacob Zuma pledged his country’s support to the new Somali government during a speech to the new ambassadors in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 29.[14]
  • Somali Foreign Minister Fowzia Yussuf Haji Aden hailed the relationship between Somalia and China when speaking to the press after the Africa Union Summit in Addis Ababa on January 28.[15]
  • Kenya Defense Minister Yusuf Haji said that the two Kenyan hostages whom al Shabaab threatened to kill on January 23 are not prisoners of war as al Shabaab claims, in an interview published on January 29. He said that the two hostages are government employees, not military combatants.[16]               

[1]“Tribal Mediation from Murad Sheikhs Halt Battle Between Yemeni Army and Al Qaeda Militants in al Bayda,” al Masdar Online, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/41063
“Hundreds of Qaeda-linked Militants Reinforce South Yemen Bastion,” Reuters, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/29/us-yemen-violence-idUSBRE90S0PU20130129
[2] “Tribal Mediation from Murad Sheikhs Halt Battle Between Yemeni Army and Al Qaeda Militants in al Bayda,” al Masdar Online, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/41063
[3] “Meeting between President Saleh and his son Ahmed and Jamal Benomar,” Barakish Net, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43938
[4] “Unannounced Meeting Between President Hadi and Ahmad Ali in Presidential House,” al Jumhor, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.aljumhor.net/portal/news-13848.htm
[5] “Largest Destruction Operation in Yemeni Television,” al Masdar Online, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/41049
[6] “One Killed and Others Injured in Qat Market in Khormaksar,” Aden Post, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://aden-post.com/news/5075/
[7] “Teachers Refuse to Return to Sa’ada and the Houthis Stop Work of Reconstruction Committees in Sufian,” YASPR Net, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.yaspr.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=7088
[8] “After the Killing and Wounding of 3 Central Security Officers, Clashes Between Central Security Forces and Gunmen in the Middle of Dhaleh City,” Mareb Press, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=51613
[9] “Breaking: Dead and Wounded in Clashes in Sana’a,” al Omaana, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://alomanaa.net/news/3601/
[10] “Bombardment in Gedo,” Kulmiye News, January 30, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=11947
[11] “Shabaab al Mujahideen Claim 18 Attacks, Report on Activities,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 25, 2013. Available at SITE.
[12] “Al Shabaab ‘On Course of Today’s Attack We Have Killed Several Officials Wanted,’” Kulmiye News, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=11932
[13] “PM Shirdon meets UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, January 30, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/30/pm-shirdon-meets-un-under-secretary-general-for-political-affairs-in-mogadishu/
[14] “President Zuma Commits to Helping Rebuild Somalia,” Bar Kulan, January 30, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/30/president-zuma-commits-to-helping-rebuild-somalia/
[15] “Somali Foreign Minister Hails Somalia-China Relations,” Hiiraan Online, January 30, 2013. Available: http://hiiraan.com/news4/2013/Jan/27910/somali_foreign_minister_hails_somalia_china_relations.aspx
[16] “Al Shabaab Misrepresents Capture of Kenyan Hostages,” Sabahi Online, January 29, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/features/2013/01/29/feature-01