Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 15, 2012

Yemen: Member of Yemeni National Dialogue technical committee says dialogue will likely be postponed until early 2013; President Hadi meets with UN Special Envoy Jamal Benomar in Sana’a; security forces seize large stockpile of weapons in al Hudaydah governorate; armed tribesmen set up roadblock between Sana’a and al Hudaydah city; armed tribesmen set up roadblocks between Sana’a and Taiz governorate; al Houthi rebels continue blockade of al Jayshi tribesmen in al Jawf governorate; Yemeni Interior Ministry deploys tanks to secure roads connected to oil fields in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: FBI adds Alabama man to “most wanted terrorists” list for joining al Shabaab; hand grenade explodes in Nairobi, Kenya; al Shabaab militants increase taxes in Buulobarde, Hiraan region; a military court in Galkayo , Mudug region sentences 25 people to prison; President Mohamud reverses stance on charcoal exports in Kismayo; Iran to open embassy in Somalia and pledges to support to the country; Ethiopian prime minister seeks to strengthen ties with Somalia; Chinese delegation meets with President Mohamud in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yasser Abdullah Ali al Raini, member of the technical committee tasked with organizing the Yemeni National Dialogue, reported on November 14 that the dialogue will likely be postponed until early 2013. Raini stated that a lack of adequate preparation will delay the conference. Raini added that the technical committee is expected to submit its final report to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the end of November 2012.[1]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with Jamal Benomar, UN Special Envoy to Yemen, in Sana’a on November 15. Both parties discussed recent political developments in Yemen and the upcoming Yemeni National Dialogue.[2]
  • Security forces seized a vehicle carrying a large stockpile of weapons at a checkpoint in Haiz district of al Hudaydah governorate on November 15. Local sources reported that roughly 75 handguns and 900 rounds of automatic rifle ammunition were seized during a routine search.[3]
  • Armed tribesmen set up a roadblock on a road between Sana’a and al Hudaydah city on November 15. Local sources reported that the armed tribesmen seized 30 transportation vehicles carrying oil products. Local sources added that the armed tribesmen allowed smaller vehicles to pass through the roadblock.[4]
  • Local sources reported that armed tribesmen set up several roadblocks on a road that connects Sana’a and Taiz governorate on November 15. The roadblocks were reportedly set up in Ibb governorate, which is located between Sana’a and Taiz governorate. It is currently unclear why the armed tribesmen set up the roadblocks.[5]
  • Al Houthi rebels continued their blockade of al Jayshi tribesmen in al Zahir district in al Jawf governorate on November 15.  Local sources reported that the al Houthi rebels also blockaded the home of the director of al Jawf governorate.[6]
  • The Yemeni Interior of Ministry deployed tanks to secure roads connected to oil fields in Ma’rib governorate on November 15. Local sources reported that the tanks will be used to remove roadblocks set up by armed tribesmen. Local sources added that roughly 20 armored vehicles and seven tanks in total will be deployed. The security campaign will be carried out by the Middle Military Zone.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The FBI has added U.S. native Omar Shafik Hammami to its “most wanted terrorists” list on November 14. Hammami was indicted in Alabama in 2007 on terrorism charges, and was indicted again in 2009 for leaving the country to join the Somali terrorist organization al Shabaab. Hammami is wanted for supplying material support to al Shabaab and is suspected of providing material support to the organization since 2006.[8]
  • A hand grenade detonated outside a supermarket in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi, Kenya on November 14. The three attackers arrived outside the store via motorbike but detonated the grenade before reaching the store. A crowd of civilians were able to tackle one of the attackers who is now in police custody, but his accomplices were able to flee the scene. Exact casualty numbers are not yet known but injuries are reported.[9]
  • Business was halted at the market in the Halgan village of Buulobarde, Hiraan region, after al Shabaab militants increased taxes on November 15. Now, traders selling their products at the market have to pay double their original tax, a financial impossibility for most.[10]
  • A military court in Galkayo, Mudug region sentenced 25 people to three-to-ten years in jail on November 14. Nineteen of the suspects are convicted al Shabaab militants and six are Puntland soldiers. The court has been prosecuting suspected militants for the last ten days. So far, 16 have been found innocent and three are still awaiting trial.[11]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has reversed his stance on exporting the millions of sacks of charcoal sitting in Kismayo on November 15. Three weeks ago Mohamud supported a UN ban on exporting charcoal because it was once al Shabaab’s major source of revenue. Mohamud said he changed his mind after speaking to Somali citizens and hearing their logistical and financial concerns. Sacks of charcoal are already being loaded onto ships in the port.[12]
  • Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi flew into Mogadishu on November 14 and pledged his support to help Somalia rebuild. Salehi also announced that Iran would be setting up an embassy in the country. Iran’s promise to help Somalia rebuild occurred on the same day Turkish ambassador Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Somalia and said Turkey would help Somalia, beginning with the construction of a new Somali Parliament building.[13]
  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailmariam Dessalegn in a letter to Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon congratulated Shirdon on the selection of his cabinet and expressed his hope that the two countries could strengthen relations.[14]
  • A Chinese delegation arrived in Mogadishu on November 14 and met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The delegation was headed by Lee Woo, a construction company representative who said 49 Chinese construction companies were hoping to come to Somalia in order to start new projects.[15]   

[1] “Technical Committee Member Says NDC Delay Expected, Cites a Lack of Preparation,” Yemen Times, November 14, 2012. Available: http://www.yementimes.com/en/1625/news/1612/Technical-Committee-member-says-NDC-delay-expected-cites-lack-of-preparation.htm
[2] “President Receives UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar,” SABA, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news287869.htm
[3] “Haiz Security Seizes 24 Handguns and 929 Rounds of Ammunition in a Transport Vehicle,” SABA, November 15, 2012 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/ar/news287885.htm
[4] “Block along Sana’a-Hudaydah and 30 Transportation Vehicles Seized,” Barakish, November 15, 2012 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=39495
[5] “Strategic Sana’a-Taiz Road is Cut Off by 6 Tribal Roadblocks in Taiz,” Barakish, November 15, 2012 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=39490
[6] “At a Time When the National Dialogue Is Being Initiated… al Houthi Rebels Continue Their Armed Blockade of al Jayshi in al Jawf and Strike Homes with Heavy Weaponry,”  YASPR, November 15, 2012 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.yaspr.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=5946
[7] “Military Tanks to Confront Saboteurs in Ma’rib,” YASPR, November 15, 2012 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.yaspr.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=5950
[8] “Most Wanted Terrorists: Omar Shafik Hammami,” FBI, November 14, 2012. Available: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists/omar-shafik-hammami “Alabama Man Added to FBI’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ List,” CNN, November 14, 2012. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/14/us/most-wanted-terrorists/index.html
[9] “Police Arrest Nairobi Blast Suspect,” Digital Standard, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000070657&story_title=Kenya-Police-arrest-Nairobi-blast-suspect-
“Explosion Rocks Eastleigh, Kenya,” Shabelle, November 15, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/explosion-rocks-eastleighkenya/
[10] “Business Paralysed in Halgan Village Following Militant’s Tax Increase,” Bar Kulan, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/11/15/business-paralysed-in-halgan-village-following-militants-tax-increase/
[11] “Galkayo Military Court Jails 25 Suspects,” Bar Kulan, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/11/15/galkayo-military-court-jails-25-suspects/
[12] “Somali President In U-Turn Over UN Charcoal Ban,” Reuters, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/15/us-somalia-charcoal-idUSBRE8AE0K920121115
[13] “Iran Turkey Compete on Rebuilding Somalia,” Middle East Online, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=55517
“Turks to Give Mogadishu Major Facelift,” Africa Review, November 14, 2012. Available: http://www.africareview.com/News/Turkey-to-rebuild-Somali-parliament/-/979180/1619882/-/12noiau/-/index.html
[14] “Ethiopia Seeks to ‘Further Strengthen’ Fraternal Relations with Somalia,” Bar Kulan, November 15, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/11/15/ethiopia-seeks-to-further-strengthen-fraternal-relations-with-somalia/
[15] “Somali President Receives Delegation From China,” Radio Mogadishu, November 15, 2012. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/november-15-2012-daily-monitoring-report/