Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 3, 2011

Yemen: AQAP-linked militants kill at least two soldiers in Zinjibar; Saleh injured in attack on palace; fighting continues in Sana'a; Republican Guard soldiers clash with protestors in Taiz

Horn of Africa: AMISOM troops capture major position around Bakara Market; al Shabaab and AMISOM troops clash in Mogadishu, killing 15 people; landmine explodes beneath military truck in Kenya; AMISOM spokesman warns AMISOM to expect heavy losses; Ugandan and TFG presidents urge TFG mandate extension; Puntland president outlines interests and challenges

Yemen Security Brief

  • Islamist militants linked with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continued to clash with loyalist troops in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. At least two loyalist soldiers were killed and 15 others were injured. The Islamist militants reportedly remain largely in control of Zinjibar.[1]
  • Two rockets were fired at the presidential palace in Sana’a, hitting a mosque inside. President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly suffered minor injuries. Yemen’s prime minister, deputy prime minister, parliament speaker, and Sana’a’s governor, among others, were wounded in the attack. Four guards were killed.[2]
  • Clashes between tribesmen and loyalist troops continued in and around Sana'a. Elite Yemeni forces attacked buildings occupied by tribesmen. At least one fighter jet reportedly flew over Hashid tribal lader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar's hometown of Khamr, eighty kilometers north of Sana'a. State news reported tribesmen set ablaze the headquarters of Yemenia Airways, the national airlines; al Jazeera reported that the headquarters caught fire when loyalist soldiers attacked the residence of a nearby tribal leader. Loyalist troops set fire to an opposition television building. At least six people were injured in Tagheer (Change) Square, the primary site of the protests in Sana’a. First Armored Division troops reportedly stood behind the protestors and fired on security forces.[3]
  • Republican Guard troops clashed with protestors in Taiz. Protestors reportedly used firearms. At least four Republican Guard soldiers were wounded in the clash. Two policemen were reportedly killed by a rocket-propelled grenade attack.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • AMISOM troops pushed al Shabaab out of Damanyo military camp, also known as Shirkole Ofishiale. This is reportedly "the last remaining outpost of Al Qaida-linked extremist insurgents in the western part" of Mogadishu. Colonel Innocent Oula, the AMISOM chief of staff, said that the capture of the Damanyo military camp, "gives the Somali government full control over Terebunka road, a major city artery which leads north from the bustling K4 junction to Industrial road, as well as western access routes to the famous Bakara Market, the city’s commercial hub." Oula added that AMISOM troops would reopen the road to civilians shortly.[5]
  • AMISOM troops clashed with al Shabaab in Mogadishu's Warshadaha Road near the former defense ministry building and in parts of Hodan district. At least 15 people were killed in the clash and dozens more were wounded. Al Shabaab militants reportedly attacked AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) positions.[6]
  • A landmine exploded near a Kenyan army vehicle in Mandera, Kenya, wounding at least 11 soldiers. Officials accused al Shabaab of placing the landmine.[7]
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, warned AMISOM troops to be prepared for heavy losses. Rage said, "We have a lot of Mujahideen, who are ready to devote their precious lives for sake of the Allaah and defending his sacred religion of Islam." Rage also urged civilians in TFG- and AMISOM-controlled areas to avoid military positions, saying that al Shabaab seeks to avoid civilian casualties.[8]
  • Ugandan president Yuweri Museveni, speaking at the International Contact Group (ICG) summit in Kampala, Uganda, said that the Transitional Federal Government's (TFG) mandate should be extended for one year. Museveni said, "It seems to us that the win-win situation for all parties seems to be an extension of the Transitional Federal Institutions for a period not exceeding one year." Elections would likely throw the polity into turmoil, gifting "extremists time to organise and cause problems and undermine the battlefield gains so far obtained." Museveni also threatened to withdraw Ugandan troops from Somalia if the international community pushed the TFG to dissolve after its mandate expires on August 20. TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, speaking at the same ICG summit, said, "If we have an option to deal with the security situation then why should we stop now and lose momentum...The best option is to give parliament and government a 12-month extension."[9]
  • Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole spoke at the ICG meeting in Kampala, Uganda, and outlined Puntland's interests and challenges. Farole said, "The Puntland Government is deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Yemen, which will impact Somalia and especially Puntland. Already, thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and insecurity in Yemen are returning to Puntland...Al Shabaab terrorist group has regrouped in the Golis Mountains that stretch along the northern coast of Somalia...Puntland government forces are in full-scale preparation to confront and defeat the terrorists in the mountains...The Puntland Government requests urgent and long-term security assistance from the international community, as Puntland has been denied its legitimate share of security assistance provided to Somalia...The underlying cause of piracy should be identified and addressed properly as a phenomenon that emerged from the last 20 years of lawlessness on land in Somalia...Elections for the positions of Speaker of Parliament and President of Somalia should be held before August 20, 2011, prior to the expiration of the mandate for the Transitional Federal Institutions."[10]

[1] Hammoud Mounassar, "Thousands flee fighting in Yemen capital," AFP, June 2, 2011. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110603/ts_afp/yemenpoliticsunrest
[2] “Yemen: President Saleh ‘Injured’ in Attack on Palace,” BBC, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13638787
“Yemeni Prime Minister, Six Top Officials Hurt in Shelling at Presidential Palace,” CNN, June 3, 2011. Available: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/03/tribal-fighters-in-missile-battle-at-yemen-presidential-palace/
"Yemen President Saleh killed: opposition TV says," Reuters, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/03/us-yemen-idUSTRE73L1PP20110603
[3] Hammoud Mounassar, "Thousands flee fighting in Yemen capital," AFP, June 2, 2011. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110603/ts_afp/yemenpoliticsunrest
Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari, "Yemen fighting intensifies, envoy Brennan in talks," Reuters, June 2, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/03/us-yemen-idUSTRE73L1PP20110603
Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari, "Yemen fighting intensifies, envoy Brennan in talks," Reuters, June 2, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/02/us-yemen-idUSTRE73L1PP20110602
Ahmed al Haj, "Mass funeral in Yemen for 50 killed in violence," AP, June 3, 2011. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110603/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen
Mohammed Hatem and Donna Abu-Nasr, "Heavy Fighting in Yemen’s Capital," Bloomberg, June 2, 2011. Available: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-02/yemen-fighting-spreads-to-taiz-after-gunfights-in-capital-kill-15-people.html
[4] Hammoud Mounassar, "Thousands flee fighting in Yemen capital," AFP, June 2, 2011. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110603/ts_afp/yemenpoliticsunrest
Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari, "Yemen fighting intensifies, envoy Brennan in talks," Reuters, June 2, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/03/us-yemen-idUSTRE73L1PP20110603
[5] "Press Release: AMISOM, TFG Forces Capture Crucial Road," AMISOM, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.amisom-au.org/read-21130_AMISOM-Press-Release-03-06-2011.pdf
[6] "15 civilians killed in Mogadishu fighting, shelling," Shabelle Media Network, June 2, 2011. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=7152
[7] "Al Shabaab Attacks Kenya," Nairobi Star, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.nairobistar.com/classicnews/26783-alshabaab-attacks-kenya
[8] Abdi Hajji Hussein, "Al Shabaab vows further suicide attacks against Somali govt, AMISOM," All Headline News, June 2, 2011. Available: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90050312?Al%20Shabaab%20vows%20further%20suicide%20attacks%20against%20Somali%20govt%2C%20AMISOM
Malyun Ali, "SOMALIA: President Sharif says the country was too unstable for vote," Raxanreeb, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=98306
[10] "President of Puntland State of Somalia Abdirahman Mohamed Farole speech at 19th ICG meeting in Kampala," Communication Office of Puntland President, June 3, 2011. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=98287