Gulf of Aden Security Review - November 21, 2011

Yemen: Opposition tribesmen raid military base in Sana’a; unidentified gunmen kill senior security police officer in Hadramawt governorate; oil refinery stops production in Aden; hundreds of troops defect from Yemeni military in Sana’a; UN Security Council meeting postponed one week; Madad News Agency releases second issue highlighting AQAP activities; AQAP official criticizes decision allowing political participation of women in Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims to have attacked Kenyan naval forces; Kenya conducts air strikes in Lower Jubba region; Ethiopian troops reportedly enter southern Somalia; al Shabaab launches attack against TFG and AMISOM positions in Karan district in Mogadishu; TFG and al Shabaab fight near Afmadow; al Shabaab ambushed Kenyan convoy in Hawino in Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab confiscates food from Jowhar businesswomen; al Shabaab flogs women in Bardhere; al Shabaab militants kill three herders in Busar; al Shabaab lifts qat ban in Baidoa; al Shabaab selling land to raise money; fighting breaks out between al Shabaab and resident in Jowhar

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni opposition tribesmen overran military barracks controlled by the Republican Guard's 63rd Mountaineer Infantry Brigade killing dozens of people in Beit Dahrah in Nihm district, northeast of Sana’a. Tribal leader Hameed Asim said that clashes erupted between Republican Guard troops and opposition tribesmen killing several troops and seven tribesmen before tribal fighters withdrew from the base. Yemen’s Defense Ministry reported that head of operations of the 3rd brigade Colonel Abdulsalam al Sufyani was killed in clashes in Arhab. A local sheikh said the death of a child killed by government shelling on November 20 sparked the attacks.[1]
  • Unidentified gunmen on motorbikes shot and killed senior security police officer Said al Radhi in al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate on November 19. Another police officer was injured in the attack.[2]
  • Aden’s oil refinery stopped production due to crude shortages in Yemen. The shortages were caused by repeated attacks on Yemen’s oil infrastructure, including an attack in Serwah district in Ma’rib governorate on November 18.[3]
  • Over 400 troops, many of whom were from the Republican Guard or Central Security Forces, announced their  defection from Yemen’s military saying that they would no longer launch attacks against protesters, in Tagheer (Change) Square, in Sana’a on November 19.[4]
  • United Nations (UN) envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar announced that the UN Security Council meeting scheduled for November 21 has been postponed to November 28 . He said the postponement was “at the request of the protagonists.” Despite the delay, an opposition official said that progress has been made in negotiations toward ending the conflict in Yemen. The official added that "The differences now focus on the president's military authorities. The opposition wants these powers to be transferred to a committee that will be responsible for the armed forces until a new president is elected."[5]
  • A Yemeni jihadist media group, Madad News Agency, published its second issue reporting on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) and the al Qaeda-linked militant group Ansar al Sharia’s activities, on jihadist forums, on November 20. The issue features previously unreleased photos of slain radical Yemeni- American Islamist cleric Anwar al Awlaki and Samir Khan as well as pictures of the others killed with them in the U.S. drone strike on September 30. The issue also features a news report on the suicide bombing assassination of Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmed in Aden on September 27 and the release of captured Yemeni soldiers by Ansar al Sharia fighters. The issue also states that AQAP will continue to fight against “United States aggression” and confirms AQAP’s responsibility for assassinating a “spy” accused of belonging to Yemen’s political security in Hadramawt governorate.[6]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) media arm, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics), published an audio recording, titled "In the Footsteps of the West," on jihadist forums on November 17. AQAP spiritual leader Ibrahim al Rubaish criticizes the decision of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to allow women to participate in municipal elections and become members of the Shura Council citing that this decision does not fall in line with shari’a law. He criticizes the concept of Shura councils in Saudi Arabia and accuses them of sending funding to “Yemeni forces, who kill Muslims in Yemen and make them destitute.” He also called on women to remain faithful to Allah and encouraged them to not leave their houses or “to wear makeup.”[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab released a statement detailing a night raid on two Kenyan Navy boats traveling between the islands of Kudha and Madhawo south of Kismayo. Militants hit one of the Kenyan boats with a rocket-propelled grenade. According to al Shabaab, its “Mujahideen Naval Forces” acted to protect local fishermen from the Kenyan Navy. The statement also claimed that al Shabaab militants recently ambushed a Kenyan convoy between Taabta and Dhobley, destroying two vehicles and killing eight soldiers on.[8]
  • Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said that the Kenyan Air Force had targeted two al Shabaab training camps in Hola Wajeer in Badhadhe district in Lower Jubba region on November 20.[9]
  • Somalis reported that Ethiopian military convoys crossed the border in Galgudud, Hiraan, and Gedo regions on November 19. An elder in Guriel in Galgudud region reported that there were at least 28 trucks and armored vehicles in the area. Residents near Mandera, near the Kenyan-Somalia-Ethiopian border, sighted ten trucks and several armored vehicles. The Ethiopian government has denied the presence of its troops, but Somali defense minister Hussein Arab Issa confirmed that Ethiopian troops had crossed the border and said that they would work with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and would share intelligence. Al Shabaab’s officials warned Ethiopia against invading Somalia.[10]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) positions in Karan district in Mogadishu on November 18. TFG troops, backed by AMISOM, repelled the attack and counter-attacked, claiming to have killed “many extremist fighters.”[11]
  • Al Shabaab militants and TFG forces clashed in Heyn village outside of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. The hostilities broke out when a TFG patrol came across the militants. Four people were killed during the fighting.[12]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed a TFG convoy traveling from Qoqani to Dhobley outside of Hawino village in Lower Jubba region. Local sources reported that six people were killed and nine others wounded on November 20.[13]
  • Al Shabaab confiscated 75 bags of maize marked with the World Food Program (WFP) logo from a business woman in Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region). Al Shabaab has prohibited from selling or eating food provided by the WFP.[14]
  • Al Shabaab militants in Bardhere district in Gedo region flogged three women eighty times each for allegedly insulting the group. Abaas Abudulahi, the al Shabaab commander for Gedo region, warned others not to insult the group.[15]
  • Al Shabaab militants killed three herders in Busar in Gedo region after the herders refused to give up some of their livestock to the militants for slaughter.[16]
  • Al Shabaab deputy leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, also known as Abu Mansur, lifted the ban on the sale of qat in Baidoa market in Bay region. Following a meeting with local elders and qat vendors, Robow ordered al Shabaab militants in Baidoa “not to interfere with miraa vendors and consumers.”[17]
  • Al Shabaab demolished a prison in Jowhar in Middle Jubba region and is selling the land to residents for $600. Residents say that the militant group has been selling former government property to raise money.[18]
  • Four people, one of whom was an al Shabaab militant, were killed in fighting between al Shabaab militants and residents near Jowhar in Middle Shabelle Region. The fighting broke out when militants began beating a woman who did not go to the mosque. Al Shabaab conducted a show of force and dispersed the crowds who were protesting the group’s treatment of the woman.[19]

[1] Mohammed Ghobari, “Yemen tribes hit base near capital, take weapons,” Reuters, November 21, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL5E7ML1SW20111121
“Yemeni colonel killed as tribesmen overrun base,” AFP, November 21, 2011. Available: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=334448
“Dozens killed as tribal forces seize military barracks north of Yemeni capital,” Xinhua, November 21, 2011. Available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-11/21/c_131260809.htm
Isabel Coles, Mohammed Ghobari, and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “UPDATE 1-Progress seen in talks on power transfer in Yemen,” Reuters, November 20, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL5E7MK0IA20111120
“63rd Republican Guard Base Falls to the Revolution,” Yemen Post, November 21, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4365
[2]Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Army colonel killed in south Yemen attack – official,” Reuters, November 20, 2011. Available: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/11/20/idINIndia-60622220111120
[3] “Attack in Marib,” Yemen Post, November 19, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4349
Hakim AlMasmari, “Oil refinery in Yemen stops operation; lack of raw materials cited,” CNN, November 20, 2011. Available: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/20/world/meast/yemen-refinery/?hpt=hp_bn1
[4] Hakim AlMasmari, “Hundreds defect from Yemen's military,” CNN, November 19, 2011. Available: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-11-19/middleeast/world_meast_yemen-unrest_1_unarmed-youth-protests-government-troops?_s=PM:MIDDLEEAST
[5] Isabel Coles, Mohammed Ghobari, and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “UPDATE 1-Progress seen in talks on power transfer in Yemen,” Reuters, November 20, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL5E7MK0IA20111120?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0
“UN Yemen meeting put off at rivals' request: envoy,” AFP, November 20, 2011. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ivAUVGuBbQlNNAX_Sbae9IukIdwg?docId=CNG.ee6a64b6d6a50645a5e894c820292a98.2e1
[6] Aaron Y. Zelin, “Madad News Agency presents a new newsletter from Anṣār al-Sharī’ah in Yemen: ‘News Report, Issue #2,’” Jihadology, November 20, 2011. Available: http://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ane1b9a3c481r-al-sharc4ab_ah-in-yemen-e2809cnews-report-issue-222.pdf
“Madad News Agency Publishes Unreleased Pictures of Awlaki, Khan,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 20, 2011. Available at SITE.
[7] “AQAP Official Criticizes Political Participation of Saudi Women,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 18, 2011. Available at SITE.
[8] “Shabaab Claims Strike on Kenyan Forces at Sea,” SITE Intelligence Group, November 20, 2011. Available at SITE.
[9] Patrick Mayoyo, “Al-Qaeda Camp Hit by Kenya Jets and Ships,” Daily Nation, November 20, 2011. Available: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Al+Qaeda+camp+hit+by+Kenya+jets+and+ships/-/1056/1276582/-/sm9f1dz/-/index.html
[10] “Somalia Confirms Ethiopian Troop Presence,” VOA, November 20, 2011. Available: http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/11/20/somalia-confirms-ethiopian-troop-presence
Jeffrey Gettleman, “Ethiopian Troops Said to Enter Somalia, Opening New Front Against Militants,” New York Times, November 20, 2011. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/world/africa/ethiopian-troops-enter-somalia-witnesses-say.html?_r=1
Will Ross, “Ethiopian troops 'cross border into Somalia,'” BBC, November 19, 2011. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15807215
Abdi Sheikh, “Update 2-Ethiopian Troops Move into Somalia - Witnesses,” Reuters, November 19, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E7MJ0Z320111119
“Somalia’s Shabaab Vow to Defeat Ethiopian Forces,” AFP, November 20, 2011. Available: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/11/20/178218.html
[11] “Government forces repel Al-Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu’s Karaan district,” SONNA, November 19, 2011. Available: http://www.sonnanews.net/en/read.php?title=government-forces-repel-al-shabaab-attacks-in-mogadishu%92s-karaan-district&id=791
[12] “Shabab, government soldiers fight in southern Somalia,” Mareeg Online, November 21, 2011. Available: http://mareeg.com/fidsan.php?sid=21921&tirsan=3
[13] “Shabaab miltiants [sic] attack TFG convoy in Hawina,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 21, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/21/clash-between-tfg-and-shabaab-militias-erupted-in-hawina
[14] “Shabaab militias loot 75 sacks of maize from businesswoman in Jowhar,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 19, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/19/shabaab-militias-loot-75-sacks-of-maize-from-businesswoman-in-jowhar
[15] “Shabaab militia flog three women in Barderee for insulting them,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 19, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/19/shabaab-militia-flog-three-women-in-barderee-for-insulting-them
[16] “Shabaab militias kill three innocent pastoralists in Busar area,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 20, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/20/shabaab-militias-kill-three-innocent-pastoralists-in-busar-area
[17] “Shabaab militias switch-off ban on Miraa in Baidabo,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 21, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/21/shabaab-militias-switch-off-ban-on-miraa-in-baidabo
[18] “Shabaab militias demolished Jowhar’s main detention camp,” Radio Bar-Kulan, November 21, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/11/21/shabaab-militias-demolished-jowhar-detention-camp
[19] “4 killed as Al-shabab,residents clash in Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, November 21, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=12766