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: Tribesmen kill an Ansar al Sharia leader; jihadist describes al Qaeda activity in Abyan; AQAP posts biography of dead military commander; UN Security Council expresses concern over AQAP; Yemeni opposition leaders appeal to the international community; JMP announces meeting to form umbrella council
Horn of Africa: Residents flee areas previously held by al Shabaab; Somali TFG troops clash with al Shabaab in Lower Jubba; AMISOM troops continue expansion north of capital; business leader warns forces against looting in Bakara Market; Special Envoy Mahiga calls for additional troops; Somali president announces determination to pursue al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni tribesmen killed a leader of the al Qaeda-linked militant group Ansar al Sharia, during an operation in southern Yemen conducted in cooperation with Yemeni security forces. An Abyan tribal figure announced that tribesmen killed militant leader Yassir al Shalily overnight in Mudia. Fighting broke out when militants attempted to enter the city and were confronted by tribesmen.
- A Yemeni jihadist posted a message on the Ansar al Mujahideen forum regarding an incident between al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants and tribal militias in Abyan governorate. On August 8, the jihadist posted that militants attacked tribal “mercenaries” near Wadi Hassan. Militants reportedly killed “at least 13 people including a sheikh who had threatened the fighters [AQAP militants] to leave Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan.” The same jihadist had previously posted information regarding AQAP militants disrupting Yemeni attempts to rescue the besieged 25th mechanized brigade and information regarding AQAP militants blockading the “al-‘Ahsal and al-Saleh tribes, which are two tribes constituting a militia.”
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posted a biography of Abu ‘Atta al Wa’ili, also known as Abdullah bin Hadi al Tais al Wa’ili, on August 6 as the eighth issue in a series entitled “Martyrs of the Peninsula.” Al Wa’ili, according to the biography, traveled to Iraq in 2003 before returning to Yemen. Al Wa’ili helped move al Qaeda militants from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, including former Guantanamo detainees. He was killed “during a raid on a central security center.” Al Wa’ili was also noted as brother to Saleh al Tais, “an AQAP fighter believed to have been killed in January 2010, but is still alive.”
- United Nations Security Council released a statement expressing concern for the security situation in Yemen on August 9. The statement indicated that the members of the Security Council “were deeply concerned at the worsening security situation, including the threat from Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.” The Security Council also “called on all parties to move forward urgently an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition that meets the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change. They noted inter-Yemeni efforts in this regard, for which the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] initiative continues to be important.”
- Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the Yemeni opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) stated, “The U.N. and our international friends must make positive and quick steps towards the Yemeni revolution and ensure change in the manner Yemenis see necessary.” Hamid al Ahmar, another key opposition figure, encouraged the international community to “listen to the voice of the people to ensure safety and stability in the region.” He also expressed his satisfaction that the UN, U.S. and EU “are clearly standing with the will of the Yemeni people for change.” Hamid concluded, “This is what we expected from the U.S. and the international community and we hope it continues.”
- The JMP announced that a meeting to be held on August 17 will establish a national assembly, which will then form an umbrella council for opposition groups.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Residents from various areas in Mogadishu, previously controlled by al Shabaab, have begun to flee their homes in the capital. Locals from Towfiq, Jungal, Suq Ba’ad, and Jamhuriyah reportedly fled due to the shelling that occurs during battles between Somali forces and al Shabaab militants.
- Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops clashed with al Shabaab fighters near Afmadow district in Somalia’s Lower Jubba region. Al Shabaab fighters engaged Somali forces as troops attempted to advance from the town of Dhobley into Hawina village of Afmadow. Troops also launched mortars at al Shabaab bases in Takta, drawing mortar fire from al Shabaab in return. At least one person was killed and two more injured.
- AMISOM peacekeeping troops continued their expansion into areas recently abandoned by al Shabaab fighters. Troops set up military bases in northern Mogadishu. Eyewitnesses reported that the troops had established a presence in Shibis, Abdi Aziz, and other neighborhoods nearby those districts. Sources reported that AMISOM troops were planning to continue their expansion into the Karan district. Also, Somali TFG police forces have taken control over police stations in the Bakara and Suq Ba’ad markets in Mogadishu, previously controlled by al Shabaab militants.
- Local business leader Ali Mohammed Siad warned Somali forces against looting and robbing in Bakara Market in Mogadishu. Siad stated that “the soldiers of the transitional federal government are needed to protect the properties in the market.”
- United Nations special envoy to Somalia stated in an interview that he supported additional troop deployments to Somalia. Augustine Mahiga told reporters that in response to al Shabaab fighters’ withdrawal from Mogadishu, “Forces need to be resupplied and resupplied quickly in terms of manpower and equipment to re-establish authority in those areas [surrendered by al Shabaab].”
- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed commented on the recent gains against al Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu during a press conference in Tanzania’s capital. The president said, “We will not stop pursuing them (al Shabaab) …The government’s determination is to clear al Shabaab from all of Somalia.” The president added, “We will never stop battles against al Shabaab, and our forces had the ability to force them run away from Mogadishu. The eradication campaign against the rebel group will certainly continue.”