Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 18, 2013

Yemen: National Dialogue begins in Sana’a; AQAP releases biography of slain fighter; Hamid al Ahmar boycotting National Dialogue; motorcycle gunman fires on car of Yemeni finance minister in Sana’a; Southern Movement leaders boycott National Dialogue; Tawakul Karman boycotts National Dialogue; Southern Movement separatists protest in Aden; youth demonstrate in Sana’a and Taiz; al Houthi gunmen clash with Salafists in Jahmaliyya, Taiz governorate; militants attempt to storm 22nd Infantry Brigade camp in Taiz; gunmen clash with members of 35th Brigade in Taiz; 113th Brigade members throw Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Mahdi out of camp in Sa’ada; unknown gunmen fire on Political Security building in Aden; riots in al Hudaydah Central Prison; former First Armored Division soldiers fire on al Houthi protesters at Sana’a University; Yemeni Ba’ath party and JMP leader Naif Ahmed al Qanis resigns

Horn of Africa: Suicide car bomb kills at least ten people in Mogadishu; al Shabaab retakes Hudur, Bakool region; al Shabaab retakes Awdiinle, Bay region; weapons are stolen and smuggled from presidential palace in Mogadishu; gunmen shoot and kill taxi driver in Mogadishu; Ethiopian authorities arrest four al Shabaab militants in Moyale, Ethiopia; authorities arrest nine in Galgudud region for carrying unlicensed firearms; Raila Odinga files petition challenging election outcome, public gatherings are banned in Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Yemeni Comprehensive National Dialogue conference began on March 18 in the presidential palace in Sana’a, Yemen. Security forces established dozens of checkpoints in Sana’a on March 17 in preparation for the conference.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a biography of slain fighter Furqan al Sana’ani, who was killed in Abyan governorate, on jihadist forums on March 12. The publication is the twelfth in AQAP’s “Martyrs of the Peninsula” series.[2]
  • Prominent Joint Meetings Party (JMP) and Islah Party leader Hamid al Ahmar said on March 17 that he will not participate in the National Dialogue conference, citing multiple concerns, including a lack of representation of those from Sa’ada governorate, and the inclusion of representatives in the dialogue who do not meet previously established criteria. In related news, Islah Party member Mohsen Ali Basra also withdrew from the Dialogue.[3]
  • A motorcycle gunman fired on the car of the director of finance in the Yemeni Parliament, Adnan Abdu Ahmed al Hamli, in front of the Presidential Palace in Sana’a on March 17.[4]
  • A number of prominent Southern Movement members withdrew from the National Dialogue on March 17, including Saleh Taher Sayeed Ali al ‘Aysa’i, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Hamid al Maflahi, Dr. Asmahan al ‘Als, Sheikh Tareq Mohammed Abdullah, Khalid Abu Bakr Ali Baras, Mustafa Zein al ‘Aydroos, and Ahmed Sayif Hashid.[5]
  • Yemeni 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tawakul Karman withdrew from the National Dialogue on March 17.[6]
  • Thousands of Southern Movement separatists demonstrated in Aden and Muwakala, Shabwah governorate against the National Dialogue conference on March 17. Protesters carried signs saying “No dialogue under occupation! Independence is our choice!” Yemeni security forces were deployed in Aden to protect government buildings and foreign consulates.[7]
  • Thousands of demonstrators protested in Sana’a and Taiz cities on March 17, to commemorate the second anniversary of the “Friday of Dignity” shooting of protesters during the 2011 Yemeni Uprising.[8]
  • Al Houthi gunmen, led by a man named Akram al Junayd, clashed with Salafists in al Jahmaliyya, Taiz governorate on March 15. No one was wounded in the incident.[9]
  • Nearly 300 militants from al Hudaa’ attempted to storm the 22nd Infantry Brigade camp in Taiz on March 16, after the brigade commander, Mohammad al Bukhaiti, was ousted by soldiers of the brigade last week.[10]
  • Gunmen clashed with members of the 35th Brigade on March 15 near the airport in Taiz.[11]
  • Soldiers of the 133rd Infantry and Artillery Brigade expelled Yemeni Army Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Mehdi Makwala from their camp in Sa’ada on March 17, after Makwala delivered a speech about the National Dialogue conference.[12]
  • Unknown gunmen fired on the Political Security building in al Tawahi, Aden on March 18.[13]
  • Riots broke out in the al Hudaydah Central Prison on March 17. Three were killed and others wounded in the incident.[14]
  • Soldiers formerly belonging to the dissolved First Armored Division clashed with and fired on al Houthi protesters in the courtyard of Sana’a University on March 18. Five of the protesters were wounded in the incident.[15]
  • Yemeni Ba’ath party and JMP leader Naif Ahmed al Qanis resigned on March 18.[16]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A suicide car bomb detonated near the presidential palace in Mogadishu on March 18. The bomber was targeting Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency Chief Khalif Ahmed Ileg, who was in a car close to the bomb. Ileg was unharmed in the explosion but a nearby minibus and several tea shops exploded from the blast, killing seven civilians and three national security officers. The terrorist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[17]
  • Al Shabaab militants retook the Bakool region capital, Hudur, on March 17 after Ethiopian troops abandoned the town for unknown reasons. Somali and AMISOM troops are now gathering outside the town.[18]
  • Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Awdiinle, Bay region on March 17. The militants were able to retake the town after several days of fighting with Somali troops. Casualty numbers from the battle are not known.[19]
  • A large number of weapons were stolen from a weapons cache in Villa Somalia, Mogadishu. Security officials said that they caught several people trying to smuggle out 11 mortar rounds on March 15. When officials went to investigate the arms stores, more weapons were discovered to be missing. A security captain is reportedly behind the smuggling operation.[20]
  • A taxi driver was shot and killed in the Howlwadag district of Mogadishu on March 17. Police later arrested ten people in connection with the killing. The reason behind the attack is not yet known.[21]
  • Ethiopian authorities arrested four al Shabaab militants in Moyale, Ethiopia, near the border with Somalia on March 15. The four men are believed to have been planning a terrorist attack in Ethiopia.[22]
  • Nine people were arrested throughout Galgudud region on March 18 for being in possession of unlicensed guns.[23]
  • Former Kenyan presidential nominee Raila Odinga formally filed a petition challenging the election outcome on March 16. That same day Kenyan police issued a statement banning all public gatherings in order to avoid post-election violence.[24]     

[1] “Beginning of the Comprehensive National Dialogue in Sana’a,” al Masdar Online, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42982
“President Opens National Dialogue Conference,” SABA News, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://sabanews.net/en/news302514.htm
“New Checkpoints Established in Sana’a Streets Ahead of National Dialogue Conference,” Barakish Net, March 17, 2013 [Arabic[. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46722
[2] “AQAP Releases Biography of Slain Fighter Furqan al-Sana'ani,” SITE Intel Group, March 15, 2013. Available at SITE.
[3] “Hamid al Ahmar Boycotting Dialogue Conference, Protesting Against ‘Violations’ and Objecting to the Lack of Representation of Those from Sa’ada, the Inclusion of Those From Outside the Areas, and Deprivation of Wounded and Families of Martyrs,” Mareb Press, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=53265
“Names of the People Who Withdrew From the National Dialogue Conference,” Barakish Net, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46757
[4] “Breaking: Assassination Attempt in Front of the Gate of the Presidential Palace in Sana’a,” Barakish Net, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=46721
[5] “Names of the People Who Withdrew From the National Dialogue Conference,” Barakish Net, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46757
[6] “Tawakul Karman withdraws from the National Dialogue and Munir al Maouri arrives in Sana’a 15 years after his departure,” Yemen Press, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://yemen-press.com/news17921.html
[7] “Strike hits Yemen ahead of national dialogue,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2013. Available: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/03/2013317174716611403.html
[8] “Thousands Protest in Sana’a and Taiz to Mark the Second Anniversary of the Friday of Dignity Massacre,” al Masdar Online, March17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42964
[9] “Clashes Between al Houthis and Salafists in al Jahmiliya, Taiz,” al Masdar Online, March 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42880
[10] “Around 300 Gunmen from al Hudaa’ Try to Storm Military Headquarters After Clashes in Taiz,” al Masdar Online, March 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42919
[11] “Around 300 Gunmen from al Hudaa’ Try to Storm Military Headquarters After Clashes in Taiz,” al Masdar Online, March 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42919
[12] “Soldiers in Sa’ada Expelled Major General Mahdi After He Conveyed Saleh’s Greetings to Them” al Masdar Online, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42947
[13] “Breaking: Heavy Fire in the Political Security Building in Aden,” Barakish Net, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46780
[14] “Breaking: Riot and Three Killed in al Hudaydah Central Prison,” Barakish Net, March 17, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46728
[15] “Casualties in Fierce Clashes Between al Houthis and Division Soldiers in University Courtyard,” Barakish Net, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46781
[16] “Prominent Leader in the JMP Announces His Resignation,” Barakish Net, March 18, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=46787
[17] “Car Bomb Kills at Least 10 in Somali Capital,” Reuters, March 18, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/18/us-somalia-blast-idUSBRE92H09920130318
“Somali Car Bomb Leaves 10 Dead,” The Guardian, March 18, 2013. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/18/somali-officials-car-bomb
[18] “Al Shabaab retakes Hudur Town,” Bar Kulan, March 17, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/03/17/al-shabaab-retakes-hudur-town/
[19] “Al Shabaab Retakes Awdinle,” Bar Kulan, March 18, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/03/18/al-shabaab-retakes-awdinle/
[20] “Cache of Weapons Stolen from Somali Presidential Palace,” Shabelle, March 16, 2013. Available: http://shabelle.net/cache-of-weapons-stolen-from-somali-presidential-palace/
[21] “Ten Arrested Over the Death of Taxi Man,” Bar Kulan, March 17, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/03/17/ten-arrested-over-the-death-of-taxi-man/
[22] “Ethiopia Arrests Four al Qaeda Allied Suspects,” Bar Kulan, March 17, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/03/17/ethiopia-arrests-four-al-qaeda-allied-suspects/
[23] “Unauthorized Gun Owners Arrested in Parts of Galgudud,” Bar Kulan, March 18, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/03/18/unauthorised-gun-owners-arrested-in-parts-of-galgadud/
[24] “Odinga Files Petition Contesting Election Results,” Sabahi Online, March 17, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/newsbriefs/2013/03/17/newsbrief-01
“Police Ban Public Gatherings in Kenya,” Sabahi Online, March 17, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/newsbriefs/2013/03/17/newsbrief-04