Gulf of Aden Security Review
A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.
Yemen:Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrate in over 14 of Yemen’s governorates; forty people wounded in clashes between anti-government protesters, pro-government demonstrators, and security forces; the British government urges its citizens to leave Yemen as soon as possible; the head of Hashid tribe vows not to seek power after Saleh
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab announced road repair project in Mogadishu; al Shabaab threatened to attack and control central Somalia; ten people killed in Somalia; Mogadishu gunfight leaves four people injured; UN opens the first of three anti-piracy centers in Kenya; Kenya warns al Shabaab against expanding into its territory; AMISOM reopens Mogadishu’s busiest, largest market; Somali forces attack al Shabaab-controlled town in the Lower Jubba region; Somali prime minister insists al Shabaab will be defeated in one year
Yemen Security Brief
- Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters held demonstrations in Sana’a and 14 other governorates across the country including Aden, Taiz, and Hadramawt. Military units that defected from the regime established a protective perimeter around the anti-government demonstrations. Protestors chanted, “Out traitor!” and, “the Yemeni people are in revolt. We, the army and the police are united under oppression.” Concurrently, ten thousand pro-government supporters held their own rally outside the presidential palace in Sana’a. President Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke to the rally, saying, “I swear to you that I will sacrifice my blood and soul and everything precious for the sake of this great people.” There are reports that people were paid between $250 and $350 to attend the pro-Saleh rally. Anti-government protestors called April 1 a “Friday of enough;” pro-government demonstrators named today “Friday of brotherhood.”
- More than 230 people were wounded in clashes between pro-government demonstrators, anti-government protesters, and security forces in Yemen’s northwestern governorate of Hajjah. Medical sources added that 80 were in critical condition after being wounded by gunfire and exposed to gas.
- The UK’s Foreign Office issued a travel warning for British citizens in Yemen: “In light of the volatile political situation in Yemen and a high possibility of violent protests on Friday 1 April, we strongly urge all British nationals to leave the country now while commercial airlines are still flying…If you do not leave the country now, it is highly unlikely that the British Government will be able to evacuate British nationals or provide consular assistance in the event of a further breakdown of law and order and increased violent civil disorder.” The Russian government issued a similar travel warning.
- Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar, the head of Yemen’s powerful Hashid tribe, vowed before demonstrators that he would not seek office when Saleh resigns. In an effort to stress that his motivations were not selfish, Ahmar said, “I stand here to vow to the clean hearted youth that we are not supporting you for our personal gains and that is why I now vow that neither me nor my brothers want to rule you or take control of Yemen…”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab’s governor of Banadir region Sheikh Abdul Rahman announced on March 30 that it was launching a repair project on the road running between Qorisbali and al Masani Street near Bakara Market in Mogadishu. The announcement, made on a jihadist forum, included pictures showing the work that was being done.
- Al Shabaab militants threatened to attack and take control of the central Somali region of Galgudud. Al Shabaab’s military spokesman Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab said that it intends to capitalize on the power vacuum in the region following the disintegration of the Ahlu Sunna government in the region.
- The Council of Imams and Preachers in Kenya (CIPK) said that ten youths from the Kenyan town of Ukunda that al Shabaab had recruited had been killed in a gunfight between al Shabaab and Somali forces. The CIPK said that al Shabaab posed the greatest national security threat to Kenya, adding that they were actively recruiting young men in Kenya and training them.
- Four people were injured when AMISOM troops engaged al Shabaab militants in heavy gunfights throughout Mogadishu today. The clashes began when al Shabaab launched coordinated attacks on several AMISOM military bases; AMISOM forces retaliated and the two sides exchanged heavy artillery and machine gunfire.
- The UN opened the first of three anti-piracy information centers in Mombasa, Kenya. These anti-piracy centers are designed to streamline the flow of information between those calling for assistance and naval units responding to alerts. The other anti-pirate information sharing centers will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Sana’a, Yemen. There will also be a training center for anti-piracy units in Djibouti.
- In the aftermath of the al Shabaab incursion at Liboi, a town along the Somali-Kenyan border, the Kenyan government warned al Shabaab that the Kenyan military is ready to respond in force if more al Shabaab incursions occur. “Leave Kenya alone,” warned Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia, “if you try again we shall fight you to the end.”
- AMISOM announced that it would reopen the Bakara Market, Mogadishu’s largest and busiest market. Major Barigye Bahoku, AMISOM’s spokesperson, added that they were looking into ways of reopening the streets that lead into the Bakara Market. Bahoku further denied accusations by locals that AMISOM troops are attempting to close several important streets in Mogadishu.
- Somali forces shelled Dhobley, a border town in the Lower Jubba region controlled by al Shabaab, with mortars. Witnesses report that the shelling destroyed a few houses and water wells. Although casualties are expected due to the heavy reliance on artillery, none were reported.
- Somalia’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, insisted in an interview that he needed one more year to defeat al Shabaab. “With AMISOM’s help we’re gaining ground every day,” Mohamed said. This comes as the UN has upped the pressure on Mohamed’s government to end its transitional phase and form a new, official government.