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: Seven al Qaeda-linked militants killed in fighting with Yemeni military in Lawder; Yemen Air Force launches airstrikes on Lawder and Jaar; CIA seeks to expand drone campaign in Yemen; Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar continues to refuse to relinquish power; UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar arrives to Sana’a and urges former president Saleh and his relatives to commit to President Hadi’s latest official decrees
Horn of Africa: TFG announces $500 reward for the killing or capture of al Shabaab militants; al Shabaab militants attack Ethiopian and Ahlu Sunna base in Galgudud region; businessmen arrested by al Shabaab for alleged ties to TFG; German cabinet approves expansion of EU anti-piracy mission; Puntland adopts state constitution
Yemen Security Brief
- A local official reported that at least seven al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in clashes with Yemeni soldiers in Lawder in Abyan. The Yemen Defense Ministry received a text message that four of the seven militants were Somali. Separately, late on April 18, the Yemen Air Force conducted air raids in southern Lawder city and Jaar. Six militants were reportedly killed in Lawder and four militants in Jaar. The attacks come amid the Yemeni Interior Ministry’s announcement that it has decided to expand the war on insurgents in southern Yemen.
- American officials stated that the CIA is seeking to expand its drone campaign in Yemen to include strikes against terrorist suspects whose identities are unknown. Targeting would be based on suspicious patterns of behavior. A senior administration official added that, “there is still a very firm emphasis on being surgical and targeting only those who have a direct interest in attacking the United States.”
- Dismissed commander of the Yemen Air Force Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar is refusing to leave his office according to a source in the air force. President Hadi issued a decree on April 6 formally removing him from his position. In addition, President Hadi gave al Ahmar 48 hours on April 15 to step down. Yemen Air Force press secretary Abdurrahman al Helali claimed, “Al-Ahmar had been convinced to step down, but the ousted president [Ali Abdullah Saleh] and his relatives are forcing him not to do so.”
- The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, arrived to Sana’a on April 18 to meet with top officials and to discuss obstacles to the Gulf Cooperation Council-sponsored power transfer. Benomar is reportedly expected to meet with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, commander of the Republican Guard. On April 19, Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej reported that Benomar warned former president Ali Abdullah Saleh that he and his relatives would be sanctioned if they do not abide by President Hadi’s official decrees.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Mogadishu mayor Mohamud Ahmed Nur announced that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will reward $500 to anyone who captures or kills an al Shabaab militant. "Now, consider that every al Shabaab is just like a commodity that will earn you cash," Nur said.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked an Ethiopian and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a base in Wabho in Galgudud region’s Elbur district. An Ahlu Sunna officer reported that al Shabaab was pushed back and suffered heavy casualties.
- Two businessmen were arrested by al Shabaab militants in Jowhar, accused of having ties with the TFG as well as smuggling weapons and ammunition.
- The German cabinet approved the expansion of the European Union’s anti-piracy mission, which was decided upon last month by EU foreign ministers. German troops will be able to strike pirate equipment up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) inland through May 31, 2013. Parliament must approve the decision and is expected to do so next month. Three hundred and forty German military personnel serve in Operation Atalanta, the EU’s anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia.
- Puntland adopted a state constitution on April 18 after a four-day convention in Garowe. Out of 480 delegates, 472 approved the document. Abdiwahab Ugas Khalif, the TFG Minister of Commerce and Trade, attended the final ceremony, as did UN officials, the Italian Ambassador to Somalia, the Slovakian Ambassador to Kenya, the EU’s chief of political section, and representatives from Interpeace. Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole announced, “I hereby declare […] that Puntland has moved on towards political parties and fair elections.”