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: Gates says Yemen unrest has affected operations against on AQAP; anti-government protestors demonstrate in Taiz and Aden; EU Parliament passes resolution urging a reassessment of bilateral ties with Yemen; the JMP accepts GCC offer for transition talks
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack a TFG checkpoint in Afgoi; armed gunmen assassinate an NGO official and three others; TFG Prime Minister repeats that Somali forces and AMISOM can retake Mogadishu by year’s end; hundreds demonstrate in support of the TFG across Somalia; government officials in Somalia’s Shabelle Valley report 15 al Shabaab militants defected
Yemen Security Brief
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed concern that the unrest in Yemen has affected counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Gates said, “Well, a good example of that is the unrest in Yemen which has really eased up the pressure on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And it’s also a concern that the internal security services in many of these countries have turned to their internal problems rather than the broader CT [counterterrorism] mission...But we have to keep our eye on it very closely because I think it is a period, while all these changes are taking place, where extremists probably will try and take advantage, including Iran. And we just have to keep our eyes open and continue working closely with our partners here in the region to make sure these guys don’t get a free ride.”
- Protests continued in Taiz and Aden. Witnesses did not report any outbreaks of violence in Taiz, but security forces opened fire on and lobbed tear gas at student demonstrators in Aden who had blocked roads and had demanded the release of detained protestors.
- The European Union (EU) Parliament passed a resolution urging the EU to “reassess its bilateral relations with Syria, Bahrain and Yemen in the light of their violent repression of demonstrators.” The press statement read, “In the case of Yemen, the UN or the International Criminal Court should lead an enquiry into the 18 March attacks, in which 54 people were killed and more than 300 injured, it says. Parliament is deeply worried about the extent of poverty and unemployment in Yemen, and believes that the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council should grant it specific financial and technical support as soon as President Saleh is ready to make way for a democratically-established government.”
- The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) has decided to attend GCC-mediated transition talks in Riyadh next week. JMP spokesman Mohammed Qahtan explained that Saleh’s resignation is “the key solution to the current crisis, and this is there in the GCC initiative.” Sources within the GCC have told Reuters that “the proposal is to have a governing council grouping all the various political parties and tribes for a period that would not exceed three months. The council will set the way for elections...The talks in Saudi Arabia will discuss the modalities and mechanism for transition of power. There are some names being circulated to head a transitional council.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab gunmen attacked the busy Afgoi checkpoint outside of Mogadishu with light and heavy machine guns. Witnesses reported that three people were injured during the thirty-minute firefight. Both al Shabaab and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) declined to comment on casualties.
- In Garowe in Puntland, armed gunmen murdered Mohammed Yasin Isse, an official at the Puntland Development Research Center, an NGO that advocates for peace building. A witness said, “the assailants were onboard luxury 4x4 [sic] as they shot and killed the peace activist while passing through a street which heavily populated [sic].” Three other bystanders were killed and five more were injured in the attack. Puntland’s Home Security Minister, General Yusuf Ahmed Kheyr, named al Shabaab as responsible for the assassination of Isse and other public figures in Puntland.
- TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed asserted again that Somali security forces, working in conjunction with nearly 9,000 AMISOM troops, could retake Mogadishu by year’s end. “We just need one year. Our forces are advancing in the city,” Mohamed said.
- Hundreds of people in Luq, Beled Hawo, and Dolow in Gedo region and in parts of Galgudud region demonstrated in support of the TFG’s boycott of a planned UN-sponsored meeting in Nairobi.
- The Shabelle Valley administrations’s information minister Mohammed Nur Agajof said that at least fifteen al Shabaab militants had defected. Al Shabaab has not commented on the alleged defection; Shabelle Media cannot independently verify Agajof’s claim.