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: AQAP assassinates intelligence officer in Abyan; Yemeni army shells Jaar; violence at protests in Taiz, Aden, and Sana’a; GCC releases initiative; JMP does not accept GCC transition plan, Saleh welcomes initiative; U.S. welcomes GCC mediation
Horn of Africa: Seven people killed when al Shabaab attempts to retake town; lull in fighting in the Bakool region; TFG Speaker of Parliament attends UN summit in Nairobi; AMISOM hosts conference asking for more AU support; Iranian Red Crescent Society donates sixty tons of food to Somalia; al Shabaab beheads four on allegations of espionage and crimes against Islam; TFG hires lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.
Yemen Security Brief
- Suspected AQAP militants assassinated Yemeni intelligence officer Colonel Hussein Gharma in Lawder in Abyan governorate. Witnesses report that the two men, whom they suspect to be AQAP gunmen, drove a motorcycle past Gharma’s house and opened fire while the intelligence officer and his son were outside.
- Yemeni army units shelled sites in Jaar in Abyan governorate, according an officer from the 25th mechanized brigade. The army attempted to regain control of the city from Islamists, who had taken control. Residents report that they had been asked to leave ahead of the operation. Xinhua reports that Islamists spoke on the local radio and warned Yemeni military forces to leave, or “suicide squads” would “kill then all.”
- Yemeni security forces suppressed demonstrators in Taiz and Sana'a as thousands of protestors simultaneously demonstrated in Aden, Hudaydah and Hadramawt. On April 9, security forces injured at least 580 demonstrators when soldiers fired tear gas and live rounds at protestors attempting to take over a government building in Taiz. On April 10, security forces surrounded Taiz with tanks to prevent more protestors from joining the demonstration as clashes between security personnel and demonstrators killed at least four people and wounded over one hundred. In Sana'a, a simultaneous crackdown by security personnel on April 10 reportedly killed one protestor and injured over 15 others when over four hundred protestors attempted to march on the presidential palace or the UN mission. Thousands of protestors continued to demonstrate in Aden as a general strike paralyzed the day-to-day operations of the city.
- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) released a statement calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer executive power to the vice president and for a national unity government to be established.
- Yemen’s foreign press office released a statement welcoming the GCC’s initiative. The statement reads: “H.E. President Ali AbdulAllah Saleh reiterated his commitment and willingness to the peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the Yemeni constitution. Therefore, The Republic of Yemen will positively embrace the GCC Foreign Ministerial statement dated 10th of April 2011 as a foundation for future dialogue.” The JMP did not immediately accept the GCC transition plan.
- The U.S. State Department welcomed the GCC’s mediation and encouraged Saleh to begin transitioning power. The statement reads: “The United States welcomes the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to address the challenging political situation in Yemen...President Saleh has publicly expressed his willingness to engage in a peaceful transition of power; the timing and form of this transition should be identified through negotiation and begin soon. To succeed, all parties must participate in a process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people, including their political and economic aspirations.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab attempted to retake Luq, a town on the Somali-Kenyan border. Witnesses report that seven fighters were killed, but did not identify which side incurred the losses. Al Shabaab military spokesman Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab said, “We successfully took over their bases for a while. We inflicted heavy losses on them.” A spokesperson for the Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a said, “Al-shabaab [sic] attempted to capture Luuq district last night but they have failed.”
- Al Shabaab and pro-government forces engaged in fighting on April 9 in Ato, a town in the southern Bakool region. On April 10, witnesses reported a lull in fighting between al Shabaab and pro-government Somali forces. Neither side has commented on casualties.
- The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan flew to attend the UN summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The TFG Prime Minister’s advisor for information Abdurrahman Omar Osman Yarisow warned that the summit’s objective was to dismantle the TFG and sow division between all of Somalia’s political factions. Yarisow said that the summit should have been held in Somalia. The presidents of Puntland and Galmudug, two semi-autonomous Somali regions, have also flown to Nairobi to participate in the UN summit.
- AMISOM hosted a conference in Mombasa, Kenya to explain its peacekeeping role in Somalia. The African Union Deputy Special Envoy to Somalia Wafula Wamunyinyi warned the conference that the growing rift within the TFG and the uncertainty surrounding the TFG’s mandate, which expires on August 20, threaten the viability of the AMISOM mission. Wamunyinyi also urged AU member-states to increase their troop contributions to the AMISOM mission, saying, “Nigeria promised to send troops in 2007 but we still do not have troops from Nigeria and Ghana has also promised to send troops.” Wamunyinyi ended by calling for AU states to devote more attention to “our brothers and sisters in Somalia and help create a lasting peace in the country.”
- The Iranian Red Crescent Society donated sixty tons of food to Somalia. TFG minister for women and family affairs Maryam Qasim Ahmed said, “A friend indeed is a friend in need, so who ever remembers us while in this hard situation will always remain in our hearts. The Iranian Red Crescent pledged that it will continue assisting the Somali people and we are welcoming this brotherly offer — I am calling on the international community to redouble its assistance to the Somali people who are undergoing a very difficulty [sic] period.”
- Al Shabaab beheaded four men accused of espionage and crimes against Islam in Kismayo, the capital of southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region. Sheikh Mohamed al Iraqi, an al Shabaab spokesman, said, “Yes we have beheaded them and we are telling with a loud voice that every one who is found of guilt against Islam will be punished.” Al Iraqi added that 23 other people were arrested on similar allegations of espionage and “other crimes.”
- American-born senior al Shabaab military commander Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, released a rap-song in English mocking TFG reports of his death. The rap includes passages like, “It’s been decreed no matter what they try / Islam can’t be martyred, defeated and it can’t die...You’ve been promised two possibilities in life / It ain’t do or die, it’s do or paradise / Victory in this life or forever delight / You think we die but no it’s a lie / In the bellies of green birds soaring through paradise / Our killed are in the highest place / While yours are in disgrace...You can’t find someone more happy than a shaheed / He got everything but one thing he requests and pleads / To come back and fight and fight and be killed / And keep coming back and getting killed if only Allah willed / But we don’t need that, the youth are coming and bold / Every martyr being replaced by 100 fold.”
- The TFG hired Park Strategies, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., to increase support for the TFG’s one year self-extension. The lobbying firm’s primary argument will be that TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed deserves more time because he brings “honesty and transparency” to TFG operations and “offers a better chance that U.S. money won’t go down a rat hole of corruption.”