Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 24, 2012
Yemen: Clinton announces that State Department has been hacking al Qaeda’s websites in Yemen; further details emerge from May 23 fighting in Abyan; three members of the Southern Movement injured during demonstration in Shabwah; Yemen LNG resumes operations after it fixes sabotaged pipeline
Horn of Africa: AMISOM reportedly four kilometers outside of Afgoi, residents flee amid continued fighting; participants of Somalia’s roadmap conference in Addis Ababa agree to stay on track to end transitional phase; four-front offensive to capture Kismayo will reportedly begin in June; Somali journalist assassinated in Mogadishu; two gunmen open fire on Turkish man in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a May 23 speech at U.S. Special Operations Command that the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications countered an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) advertising campaign on Yemeni tribal websites by posting “altered versions” of AQAP’s advertisements detailing the carnage the group has inflicted on Yemenis. AQAP’s original advertisements “bragged about killing Americans.” Clinton reported on the success of the campaign, saying that “[e]xtremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet.”
- Further details have emerged with regards to the May 23 clashes in Abyan governorate. Yemeni government troops recaptured the northeastern outskirts of Zinjibar, the governorate’s capital. Al Qaeda-linked militants had attempted to storm the positions of the 25th Mechanized Brigade and the 201st Armored Brigade, but were repelled. A local military official reported that many militants were fleeing and that the army had captured “three pick-up trucks full of ammunition and two anti-aircraft guns.” Yemeni warplanes bombarded Ansar al Sharia weapon stocks and positions near Jaar, as well as Shaqra and Wadi Jar, which is near Lawder. Military sources indicated their hope that they would recapture all of Zinjibar by May 25.
- Three Southern Movement members were injured when their demonstration was broken up by Yemeni police in Ataq, the capital of Shabwah governorate.
- Yemen LNG Company resumed operations on May 23 after pipeline repairs. The pipeline, running from Ma’rib governorate to the southern port of Belhaf, was attacked in late April, just days after the pipeline had been repaired from a previous attack.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Local residents reported that fighting near Afgoi persisted for the third day as Operation Free Shabelle continues. Thousands of people were reportedly seen fleeing the city in trucks and with pulling carts. One resident reported that anti-aircraft missiles were slamming into homes. Somali military officials said that African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces along with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops have been bolstering their presence on the outskirts of Afgoi and plan to recapture the agricultural city soon. AMISOM spokesman Paddy Ankunda stated that “The idea is to set free the displaced people in Afgoye so that they can access humanitarian aid,” adding that AMISOM troops were only four kilometers outside of the city. Additionally, al Shabaab reportedly relocated its radio station, al Andalus, to an unknown location due to ongoing fighting in Afgoi. Residents stated that the radio went off air on May 23.
- The Somali roadmap conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has come to an end after three days of tense deliberations. The participants agreed to stay on the proposed August timeline to end the political transitional process. Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali attributed the conference’s success to the collective desire to end Somalia’s failed state reputation. The signed deal requires that a National Constituent Assembly (NCA) be formed by June 20. A new Somali parliament will be elected no later than July 15. Finally, a new president will be elected by August 20 to end the transitional period.
- The Kenya Defense Force (KDF) is reportedly prepared to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between May 26 and 28 to formally join AMISOM. Once acting under the AMISOM umbrella, the KDF is set to join the second and final stage to eradicate al Shabaab in Lower Jubba and capture Kismayo, al Shabaab’s main stronghold and financial hub, with Sierra Leonean troops. Deputy AMISOM spokesman Captain Gilbert Nitunga said that the offensive would be launched in June on four fronts. Nitunga explained that Ugandan and Burundian troops will be responsible for coastal offensives in Balcad, Marka, and Barawe, and Bay, Bakool, and parts of Gedo region. The Djiboutian contingent will secure Hiraan region and set up a base in Beledweyne.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that four unknown gunmen assassinated Somali journalist Ahmed Adow Anshur in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district. The assailants allegedly shot Anshur in the head and chest with pistols. Anshur is the fifth journalist to be killed in Somalia this year.
- Somali officials and witnesses said that two gunmen shot and killed a Turkish man near his hotel in Bakara Market in Mogadishu’s Hodan district.