Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 24, 2009
Yemen: Officials announce capture of two al-Houthi rebel leaders and rebels release video of captured Yemeni soldiers; the United States calls for ceasefire and pledges additional $3 million in humanitarian assistance; the World Food Program releases report saying that one in three Yemenis face extreme hunger; Yemeni press members protest most recent arrest of a journalist
Horn of Africa: Hizb al-Islam denounces creation of new administration in Kismayo appointed by al-Shabaab; al-Shabaab and Hizb al-Islam disagree over administration of Gedo region; governor of Beledweyne announces that he is joining Hizb al-Islam; al-Shabaab militants execute Christians under Shari’a law
Yemen Security Brief
- Officials say they have twenty al-Houthi militants in custody, including two leaders, while the rebels claim on their website to have ninety captured soldiers. The rebels have posted a video of the soldiers giving their names and military position standing in front of a poster that reads, “God is great, death to America, death to Israel.”
- Calling for an immediate ceasefire to allow for the deliverance of aid, the United States has pledged an additional $3 million in financial assistance to Yemen. The aid would go towards assisting internally displaced persons. Earlier this month, the U.S. announced $2.5 million in aid to be distributed through USAID and Food-for-Peace after saying that the Yemeni government is responsible for maintaining peace.
- The World Food Program released a report that says that one in three Yemeni people currently suffer from extreme hunger. The report noted that the lack of food security is of great concern, among other issues, and that because of a shift in growing cash-crops such as qat, Yemen now imports over 80 percent of its food.
- Yemeni journalists staged a sit-in to protest the arrest of Mohammed al-Maqaleh, editor of the Socialist Party’s website. The site had published reports on civilian deaths in the north and had criticized the government’s actions. Fuad Rashed, editor of Mukalla Press website, and Salah al-Saqladi, editor of Aden News website, were arrested earlier this year and are still being held. Authorities say that they had published articles in favor of the southern secessionists.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Sheikh Hassan “Turki” Abdullahi, a prominent member of Hizb al-Islam, said that he would not accept the new administration in Kismayo, an important port-city. Al-Shabaab announced the city’s new administration under the name of the Islamic Walayah of Jubbah. According to Sheikh Hassan Turki, al-Shabaab violated a promise to Hizb al-Islam that the two groups would jointly administer the city of Kismayo.
- The dispute between Hizb al-Islam and al-Shabaab over the division of authority is not limited to Kismayo, but extends north to the entire Gedo region. Hizb al-Islam established a new administration for the region that includes a governor, security chief, and a treasurer. Sources say that the new appointments were made after the defection of former Hizb al-Islam representatives to al-Shabaab. An al-Shabaab commander noted that al-Shabaab will not accept the new administration.
- Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma’ow, governor of the town of Beledweyne, the capital of Hiraan region in central Somalia, has shifted his loyalty from the TFG to Hizb al-Islam. The forces under his control are now part of Hizb al-Islam. Beledweyne had previously been divided between government forces and Hizb al-Islam and al-Shabaab militants; however, the government forces withdrew following last month’s declaration by Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma’ow that he had no confidence in Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s government.
- Al-Shabaab militants executed Omar Khalafe, an underground Christian, at a checkpoint outside of Merca, a port city in the south. The militants had discovered 25 bibles in his luggage, which he was trying to deliver to an underground church. Al-Shabaab enforces Shari’a law in the areas that they control, and converts to Christianity, as well as proselytizers, face death.