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: Security forces injured over four hundred protestors in Hudaydah; security forces injured hundreds of protestors in Taiz; security forces deployed tanks against over ten thousand protestors in Aden; rival tribes reconciled differences to stand in solidarity against government; local tribes have begun to police and defend governorates; separatists attack military targets in Lahij and Dhaleh
Horn of Africa: New autonomous state created in Somalia, opposed by the TFG; pro-government Somali militia push al Shabaab out of a town on the Somali-Kenyan border; clashes occur in Mogadishu; the TFG boycotts UN summit tasked with discussing dissolving the TFG in favor of an official, permanent government; Aweys says TFG and AMISOM troops more powerful than al Shabaab militias; Galmudug removed militia checkpoints along major roads; the head of the al Shabaab charity foundation released an exclusive interview
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at protestors in the port city of Hudaydah, injuring over four hundred anti-government protestors. Medical sources report that nine people had gunshot wounds, 350 suffered from inhaling tear gas, and fifty were wounded by police hurling rocks. Thousands of demonstrators were marching on a presidential palace in the port city in solidarity with the protestors in Taiz.
- On April 3, Yemeni police shot live rounds and tear gas at demonstrators in the southern city of Taiz, injuring hundreds and killing at least one person. Clashes erupted when angry male protestors attacked police who were assaulting women calling for Saleh’s resignation. On April 4, security forces opened fire on demonstrators who had left the main square and were marching on government buildings. Initial reports suggested that over 15 people had been killed and hundreds more were injured.
- Security forces deployed tanks to face-down protestors in Aden. Protestors set fire to tires and erected barricades along main roads to block tanks from moving closer to demonstrations. Anti-government demonstrators threw stones at riot police and tens of thousands remained in the streets. A general strike had been called for in the city, which was generally observed. Local sources report that residents of Sheikh Othman, Mansora, Crater, Mualla, and other districts of Aden were on strike and all public and private offices had been closed.
- Yemeni tribes have put aside differences to stand in solidarity against the government. Local sources report that the governorate of Ma’rib’s two rival tribes, the Murad and the Abeeda tribes, reconciled their differences and put aside almost three decades of revenge killings in the spirit of uniting to force President Saleh out of office. “[Saleh’s] best way to rule us was by creating crises among us,” said one tribal leader. In the governorate of al Jawf, the rival al Jawf and al Otmi tribes also put aside their history of revenge killings to unite in their anti-Saleh protests.
- Yemen’s central government has lost control of al Jawf, Ma’rib, and Shabwah governorates to local tribes, according to reports. Sheikh Snan al Iraqi, a senior tribal leader in al Jawf, said, "Governmental foundations are working normally. The revolutionaries that control the governorate and the government buildings they took over peacefully." In Ma’rib, tribal youth have formed public committees to protect public buildings and the tribal regime have instituted a ban on weapons possession. "We are protecting the governorate after the security withdrew," said protest leader Hussein al Qadhi. 
- Southern separatists stormed military checkpoints in the southern governorate of Lahij. The clashes left one soldier dead and five soldiers wounded. Southern separatist casualties are unknown. In another southern governorate, al Dhaleh, southern separatists ambushed a police patrol, injuring four.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali politicians in Kenya announced the establishment of an autonomous state near the Kenyan border called Azania. This is the latest of at least ten new autonomous states in Somalia. The Kenyan government announced support for Azania, which will serve as a buffer zone between Kenya and Somalia. The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Minister of Information, Abdulkareem Jama, opposed the move, saying “Taking that move is a disaster. The idea that every region and every group of people has to form their own government without consultation of the national government will only create more differences among communities and encourage Somalis not to come together.”
- A pro-government militia captured Dhobley, a town on the Somali-Kenyan border, from al Shabaab militants. The capture of Dhobley is part of an offensive campaign to drive al Shabaab out of southern and central Somalia. A government official said that pro-government forces had killed seven al Shabaab gunmen, three of whom were foreign extremists.
- AMISOM forces clashed with al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu’s Bondhere district. A TFG official, Afrah Ali Afrah, claimed victory over clashes in Hawl Wadag and Hodan districts, saying that TFG troops killed 15 al Shabaab militants.
- The TFG boycotted a UN summit tasked with exploring the possibility of dissolving the TFG in favor of a permanent, official government. The TFG argued that the meeting was an “obstacle to the government’s efforts and developments, and to bring together Somali federal states.” AMISOM force commander General Nathan Mugisha said that he saw no alternative to extending the TFG mandate until al Shabaab was defeated and pushed out of the country. “There is no other option [than to extend the TFG mandate], unfortunately. We cannot interrupt the efforts toward pacification...AMISOM cannot do this job alone without the TFG.”
- Radio Garowe reports that Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, now a senior official in al Shabaab and formerly the leader of Hizb al Islam, said that TFG and AMISOM troops were more than a match for al Shabaab militias. Aweys confirmed that the Somali government had regained control of several districts in Mogadishu and areas of southern Somalia from al Shabaab in recent months.
- The Galmudug and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a administrations in the central Galgudud and Mudug regions deployed troops to remove militia checkpoints along major roads. Militias had been illegally collecting tolls from big trucks and small private cars that passed along the roads.
- Al Shabaab’s charity foundation released an exclusive interview with the head of its charity foundation, Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad al Muhammad. The interview begins by describing the ways al Shabaab has provided for local Somalis listing “more than 30,000 sacks of grain; 70,000 heads of cattle; to more than 30,000 Somali families.” Al Muhammad rejected foreign aid agencies, saying that Allah had granted Somalis massive amounts of fertile land and should be able to produce more than enough food for all of Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Interviewed farmers explained that World Food Program (WFP) food aid drove farmers out of business and into poverty, praising al Shabaab for putting a stop to the WFP’s aid. Other scenes in the interview show al Shabaab charity workers giving out money, food, and tents, saying, “This is Zakat money for you and your family. May Allah bless you and help you against the disbelievers.”