Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 20, 2011

Yemen: Obama urges Saleh to sign transition deal; Saleh proposes early elections; unidentified gunmen attack power station in Ma’rib

Horn of Africa: New Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia reaffirms support for TFG; TFG commanders designate Bakara Market “no fire zone,” urge businessmen not to support al Shabaab; UN Security Council mission to visit Kenya; TFG deputy defense minister says TFG troops to capture Bardhere and Bu’aale

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. President Barack Obama addressed President Ali Abdullah Saleh in his speech, entitled “A Moment of Opportunity,” saying, "at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change –  with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today.  That’s true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power."[1]
  • President Saleh proposed holding early presidential elections in an address to a pro-government rally in Sana'a. Saleh did not mention the GCC’s transition plan or propose a date for elections. Sultan Barakani, the assistant secretary general of the General People's Congress (GPC) said that Saleh will sign the GCC's transition plan on May 22. An unidentified opposition official confirmed Barakani's statement.[2]
  • Yemen Post reports that unidentified gunmen attacked a power station in Ma'rib. The attack severed the power station from the national grid, causing rolling blackouts in Sana'a and other major cities.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Abdiaziz Ahmed Adam, the new Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia, reaffirmed Ethiopia's commitment to supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) saying, “I want to assure that my government still assists the Transitional government of Somalia in the field of security and will continue that support." Adam also called for the TFG to mend the political rifts between the cabinet and parliament.[4]
  • TFG commanders warned businessmen in Bakara Market from supporting al Shabaab. AMISOM spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda added that, "AMISOM has designated Bakara market a ‘no fire zone’ and does not fire artillery or mortars into the market. We know that the extremists, who extort money from the businesses, have established a stronghold in the market and deliberately shield their reign of terror behind the civilians and business community who make their living there." This comes during a major offensive by the TFG and AMISOM troops to recapture Bakara Market and the surrounding areas.[5]
  • Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a released statement that a Security Council Mission will stop in Nairobi to discuss “broad issues relating to Somalia. “It is envisaged that the mission will meet with senior Kenyan government officials.”[6]
  • Abdirashid Mohammed Hidig, the TFG deputy defense minister, said that TFG troops plan to capture Bardhere in Gedo region and Bu'aale in Middle Jubba region. He added that al Shabaab is insufficiently equipped to resist the TFG offensive.[7]

[1] "Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa," The White House, May 19, 2011. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/19/remarks-president-middle-east-and-north-africa
[2] "Yemeni president calls for early elections," AP, May 20, 2011. Available: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110520/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen
Hammoud Mounassar, "Gulf accord on Yemen to be inked Sunday: officials," AFP, May 19, 2011. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5il3uzSojdaSfFkDc0OmhGwx3CEvg?docId=CNG.f8148c8abc3025f9a5141c0aa5463b7b.7a1
[3] "Hour-Long Outages in Yemen Cities after Circuits Come under Attack," Yemen Post, May 19, 2011. Available: http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=100&SubID=3576&MainCat=3
[4] Malyun Ali, "SOMALIA: Ethiopian ambassador- We will continue to provide security support to TFG," Raxanreeb, May 19, 2011. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/?p=96748
"Diplomat: Ethiopia will help bring peace back to Somalia," Shabelle Media Network, May 19, 2011. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=6725
[5] "Somali govt: Bakaara businessmen should not take part in the battles," Shabelle Media Network, May 19, 2011. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=6728
"Press Release," AU, May 29, 2011. Available: http://www.amisom-au.org/read-AMISOM-Press-Release-20-5-2011.pdf
[6] Martin Nesirky, "Highlights of the Noon Briefing," UN, May 19, 2011. Available: http://www.un.org/News/ossg/hilites.htm
[7] "Somali Minister: We can eradicate Al shabaab at will as moral is low," Mareeg Online, May 20, 2011. Available: http://mareeg.com/fidsan.php?sid=19733&tirsan=3