Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 31, 2013

Yemen: President Hadi approves Interior Ministry restructuring plan; fighting between Ansar al Sharia and Yemeni troops with popular committees near Shaqra in Abyan governorate; reports that weapons seized aboard ship on January 23 were bound for southern secessionists; negotiations ongoing for release of Western hostages in Walad Rabi’a, al Bayda; call for AQAP to threaten and attack UAE posted on jihadi forums; Global Islamic Media Front discusses Ansar al Sharia in Echo of Jihad online magazine; police deserters found fighting with AQAP; clashes between security forces and gunmen in al Dhaleh city; gunfight in Mukayras district, al Bayda governorate; riot in al Bayda central prison suppressed; clashes between security forces and gunmen in Taiz city; improvised explosive device defused in al Bayda city

Horn of Africa: Somali National Army soldier kills colleague in Garbaharey, Gedo region; Somali interior minister says defected al Shabaab militants should not be allowed in the armed forces; Somali prime minister travels to Marka, Lower Shabelle; Somali president meets with EU foreign policy chief in Brussels, Belgium; Somali government charges alleged rape victim in Mogadishu; Ethiopia and Somalia to form joint ministerial commission

Yemen Security Brief

  • President Abu Rabbu Mansour Hadi approved a plan to restructure the Interior Ministry on January 31. As a part of this plan, he introduced a position which would oversee the security of six governorates—Sana’a, Taiz, Aden, al Hudaydah, Hadramawt, and Ibb—which would be filled by a Major General, with the title of Undersecretary of the Ministry.[1]
  • Yemeni troops from the 111th and 115th Brigades and popular committee members clashed with Ansar al Sharia militants in the Khabr al Muraqisha area of Abyan governorate, north of the city of Shaqra on January 31, after an assassination attempt on the 115th Brigade commander, Mohammad Abdullah al Shamba, by militants linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). At least seven have been killed in fighting, including six from the Yemeni Army and popular committees. Airstrikes on Ansar al Sharia positions were also reported as part of the operation.[2]
  • Weapons seized aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea on January 23 were bound for an armed faction of the Yemeni Southern Mobility Movement, according to Yemeni security sources in an article in Barakish Net on January 31. Interviews with the ship’s eight crew members revealed that the ship was bound for the port of Aden, and that this was the second time that the crew had smuggled weapons into Yemen.[3]
  • Negotiations between the government of Yemen and Ansar al Sharia through tribal mediators are ongoing regarding the cessation of hostilities in Walad Rabi’a district, al Bayda governorate as of January 30. Mediators are attempting to implement an earlier agreement, involving the release of three kidnapped Westerners for ransom, and the withdrawal of Yemeni forces from the region, which had earlier been rejected by Yemeni officials. In a related incident, clashes broke out briefly between militants and Yemeni government forces in Khabza and Tha’alib mountain on January 30.[4]
  • A jihadist posted a statement in jihadi web forums Hanein and Shumukh al Islam, on January 28 and 29, respectively, calling on AQAP to “first advise, then threaten, and eventually launch strikes” against targets in the UAE, in retaliation for the UAE’s support for French military intervention in Mali.[5]
  • The Global Islamic Media Front published the 38th issue of its online magazine, Echo of Jihad, on jihadi forums on January 29. The issue discusses both Ansar al Sharia in Yemen in particular, as well as the general proliferation of groups calling themselves “Ansar al Sharia” across Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.[6]
  • Two rescue police deserters were found to be fighting alongside AQAP during operations in Walad Rabi’a district, al Bayda governorate in the last three days. The deserters, Muhammed Abdulkareem al Hadi and Hamood Ahmed al Hadi, were discovered after checking into a hospital for non-critical wounds sustained in the battle.[7]
  • Three soldiers were killed and 15 soldiers and civilians were wounded in clashes between unidentified gunmen and security services in al Dhaleh city, al Dhaleh governorate on January 30.[8]
  • One civilian was killed and two wounded in an exchange of fire in Mukayras district, al Bayda governorate on January 30, after a dispute regarding ownership of a building. The fighting stopped after the intervention of sheikhs from the Audhali tribe in al Bayda.[9]
  • Central security forces were deployed to the central prison in al Bayda governorate, after a prison riot on January 31. Eighteen prisoners were arrested trying to escape from the compound.[10]
  • Two were injured, including Deputy Police Section Leader Major Mohammad Hamoud Zarad, in clashes between security forces and an armed gang in Taiz city on January 29. The gang was reported to have thrown a grenade at and opened fire on the city’s police station.[11]
  • Security services in the Muthalith area of al Bayda city defused an improvised explosive device (IED) found near a security patrol position on January 31.[12]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Somali National Army (SNA) soldier shot and killed another SNA soldier in Garbaharey, Gedo region on January 30. The shooter was able to flee the scene. The reason behind the attack is not known.[13]
  • Somali Interior and National Security Minister Abdikarin Hussein Guled warned against accepting defected al Shabaab militants into the Somali armed forces. After a suspected National Intelligence and Security Agency employee detonated a suicide vest outside Villa Somalia in Mogadishu on January 29, Minister Guled says any defected militants need to be thoroughly vetted.[14] 
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon traveled to Marka, Lower Shabelle region on January 31 to assess the security situation.[15]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels, Belgium on January 31. During a joint press conference, President Mohamud thanked the EU for its assistance to his country.[16]
  • The Somali government charged an alleged rape victim for giving false evidence, insulting the government and making a false accusation in Mogadishu on January 29. A journalist who interviewed the woman was also charged.[17]
  • Somali Foreign Minister Fowzia Yusuf Haji Aden and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on January 29 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the two countries would set up a joint ministerial commission.[18]        

[1] “President Approves Restructuring Plan for Interior Ministry,” Saba News, January 31, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/ar/news296916.htm 
"President Approves Restructuring Plan for Interior Ministry," Saba News, January 31, 2013. Available: http://sabanews.net/en/news296949.htm
[2] “Dead and Wounded in Battles Between the Army and al Qaeda in Yemen,” CNN Arabic, January 31, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://arabic.cnn.com/2013/middle_east/1/31/yemen.violence/index.html
“Seven Soldiers Killed and Others Wounded in Clash Between Army and al Qaeda in Muraqisha, Abyan,” Barakish Net, January 31, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=44022
[3] “Security Sources: Seized Weapons Ship Was on Its Way to Armed Herak Faction,” Barakish Net, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43992
[4] “Tribal Mediation to End Fighting in Qayfa,” Barakish Net, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43976
[5] “Jihadist Asks AQAP to Strike UAE for Supporting French in Mali,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 30, 2013. Available at SITE.
[6] “GIMF Releases 38th Issue of ‘Echo of Jihad’ Magazine,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 30, 2013. Available at SITE.
[7] “Yemen Police Arrested Fighting Alongside al Qaeda Militants,” Yemen Observer, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.yobserver.com/front-page/10022405.html
[8] “Mareb Press Publishes the Names of Some of the Wounded; 3 Killed and 15 Wounded Including Civilians in Clashes Between Gunmen and Security Officers,” Mareb Press, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=51633
[9] “Dead and Wounded in Armed Clashes in Mukayras Governorate,” Barakish Net, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43984
[10] “Al Bayda: 18 Prisoners Arrested Rioting Inside Central Prison,” Mareb Press, January 31, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=51657
[11] “Taiz: Two Injured in Violent Clashes Between Armed Gang and Security Forces,” Mareb Press, January 30, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=51632&lng=arabic
[12] “IED Defused in al Bayda City and Security Reveals Names of Citizens Killed at Ahram Point,” News Yemen, January 31, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://newsyemen.net/subject.asp?sub_no=News/2013/311/9739.asp&sub_ano=1&sub_gno
[13] “Garbaharey Administration Talks About a Dead Soldier in the District,” Kulmiye News, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=11971
[14] “Young People Running Away from Al Shabaab Warned,” Kulmiye News, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=11970
[15] “PM Shirdon Travels to Marka,” Bar Kulan, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/31/pm-shirdon-travels-to-merca/
[16] “President Mohamud Meets EU Foreign Policy Chief in Brussels,” Bar Kulan, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/31/president-mohamud-meets-eu-foreign-policy-chief-in-brussels/
“Somali President Praises EU Development Aid,” Bar Kulan, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/31/somali-president-praises-eu-development-aid/
[17] Abdi Guled, “Somalia: Government Charges Woman Who Says She Was Raped by Security Forces,” Associated Press, January 31, 2013. Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/somalia-rape-victim-charged_n_2588519.html
“Somalia Moves to Prosecute Woman Who Accused Soldiers of Rape,” New York Times, January 30, 2013. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/world/africa/somalia-moves-to-prosecute-woman-who-accused-soldiers-of-rape.html?_r=0
[18] “Ethiopia, Somalia to Form Joint Ministerial Commission,” Sabahi, January 30, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/newsbriefs/2013/01/30/newsbrief-06