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: Army airstrikes kill at least 15 suspected al Qaeda fighters in Zinjibar; armed tribesmen expel al Qaeda-linked fighters from city of Lawder; Yemeni airstrikes accidentally kill at least 40 pro-government tribesmen; fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in village near Zinjibar kills 16; fighting between Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen kill at least 68 in northern Sana'a; AQAP military commander threatens strikes against Saudi Arabia; tribal leaders form new anti-government coalition in Sana'a; thousands protest through Yemen, President Saleh calls for an end to the protests; al Houthi and Islah party fighters agree to ceasefire in al Jawf governorate
Horn of Africa: Gunmen assassinate Somali lawmaker in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a forces kill five al Shabaab fighters in Gedo region; al Shabaab claims to have killed an American training officer; AU receives intelligence about al Shabaab counteroffensive in Mogadishu during Ramadan; U.S. sanctions two al Shabaab leaders; Somali military commander says combat operations will finish soon in Mogadishu; Kenyan officials calls for "total eradication" of al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni airstrikes "in and around" Zinjibar killed local al Qaeda leader Nader Shadadi and at least 15 other militants. One strike targeted an al Qaeda roadblock near al Wahda (Unity) stadium. Another strike destroyed an armored troop carrier, while two others struck militant positions in Khamila area, five miles south of Zinjibar. Seventeen others were wounded in the strikes.
- Armed tribesmen and residents expelled al Qaeda-linked militants from the city of Lawder in Abyan governorate after two days of heavy fighting. Local resident Jihad Hafeez said residents have "formed community patrols" to provide security in the city. He said al Qaeda fighters fled to militant strongholds in Shabwah governorate.
- Yemeni warplanes targeted Islamist militants in an area east of Zinjibar, accidentally killing at least 40 pro-government tribesmen. Members of the Fadl tribe reportedly killed two Islamist militants and seized control of "a government communications building" before "at least three airstrikes hit the area." Government officials blamed the accident on limited communication between government forces and tribal fighters. Tribal commander Mohammed al Gadani rejected the excuse, saying the government was informed of the tribesmen's location. Al Gadani said, "The current regime and al-Qaeda are a coin with two faces. Both are working together against the stability of Yemen."
- Yemeni security forces clashed with Islamist militants in the village of Wadi Dofas, nine miles south of Zinjibar, leaving two army colonels, nine soldiers, and five militants dead. Nine soldiers and four militants were also wounded. Yemeni troops also arrested four suspected al Qaeda militants, including local leader Saeed Omar Habiyate, near Zinjibar on July 29.
- Fighting between Yemeni soldiers and anti-government tribesmen in northern Sana'a has left at least 40 tribesmen and 28 soldiers dead. A tribe in Arhab district issued a statement on July 29, threatening to launch an attack on Sana'a International Airport. The statement said, "The sons of the Arhab tribe will strike the Sanaa International Airport with all the available means of war in response to the attacks on them by air and the shelling of their villages and homes."
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) military commander Qasim al Raymi, also known as Abu Hurayrah al Sana'ani, released an audio speech on July 29 threatening an attack against Saudi Arabia. Raymi's speech, titled "Martyrdom Protects Honor," used the persecution of women in Saudi Arabia women to justify violent action. The message addressed the Saudi royal family and said that AQAP will continue to plan attacks in the country. He referred to the Saudi royals as apostates that engage in "debauchery and indecency" and "must be killed."
- Over 750 tribal leaders gathered in Sana'a to form the "Alliance of Yemeni Tribes," an anti-government coalition united against the Saleh regime. The assembly named Hashid tribal leader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar as head of the new alliance. In a speech at the meeting, Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar said, "President Saleh will not rule Yemen after today as long as I live." Sheikh Mohammed Nagi Shaef, leader of Yemen's Bakil tribe, said the coalition only represents tribes loyal to the Islah Islamist party and that other "leading tribal figures are not with Ahmar."
- Thousands of pro and anti-government demonstrators marched in cities throughout Yemen on July 29. President Ali Abdullah Saleh released a statement on July 31 calling for an end to the demonstrations. He said, "The change everyone is seeking won't come through violence, spreading hate and envy, the mentality of coups and conspiracies, liquidation of opponents or sowing seeds of sedition...Let's move on... Yemen won't get out of this crisis amid tension, holding ground in protests in the streets of the capital, which is uncivilized...In this religious occasion, we assert our call for all political forces on the scene to take up dialogue as the only exit and the best means to resolve crises and disputes, and differences...There is no alternative to dialogue, stemming from national principles and the constitution."
- Al Houthi and Islah (Reform) party fighters reached a ceasefire agreement in al Jawf governorate on July 30. Yemeni tribal leader Sheikh Ali Qaisi spearheaded negotiations.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Two gunmen assassinated Somali parliamentarian Khalif Jire Warfa as he left a mosque in Hamar Weyne district of Mogadishu.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a forces killed at least five al Shabaab militants and injured dozens of others in Burdhobo district of Gedo region. Spokesman Sheikh Mohamed Hussein said the soldiers secured the areas in which fighting took place. The Ahlu Sunna administration also warned government forces that al Shabaab is planning to conduct suicide attacks in Mogadishu.
- Al Shabaab claimed to have killed an American officer "giving combat instructions" to government soldiers in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab claims that the group has documents verifying his identity.
- African Union intelligence sources said al Shabaab is massing hundreds of fighters in Mogadishu for a massive counteroffensive during the month of Ramadan. The sources revealed that al Shabaab has received arms shipments from "al Shabaab allies in Yemen."
- The Office of Foreign Assets Control added Omar Hammami and Hassan Mahat Omar to the list of Specially Designated Nationals, effectively freezing their assets and tagging them as international terrorists. The Treasury Department's report described Hammami "as one of al Shabaab's key figures and a military tactician, recruitment strategist, and financial manager." He also "commanded guerilla forces in combat, organized attacks and plotted strategy with al Qaeda." Omar, who resides in Nairobi, Kenya, was identified as "a key figure in al Shabaab's efforts to recruit new members and raise funds" and "an ideological leader of al Shabaab. He also "exercises leadership and decision-making authority in al Shabaab's internal political and operational decisions."
- General Abdikarim Yusuf Adam Dagabadan, commander of the Somali government forces, told reporters that combat operations "will be wrapped up soon" in Mogadishu. He said that al Shabaab's military capacity has been "diminishing day by day."
- Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti called on July 28 for the "total eradication" of al Shabaab, saying the group has been responsible for mass murder and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Somali citizens. He said, "The onslaught against the Al Shabaab by the combined forces of the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM Forces should be sustained and accorded full support...We therefore call for urgent international humanitarian assistance to save victims of drought and famine...Furthermore, as we continue to extend technical and humanitarian support to the people of Somalia, the TFG and AMISOM, have to consolidate their efforts to weaken the Al Shabaab which remains the greatest threat to security in Somalia and the region."