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 kill militants near Zinjibar; Saleh’s nephew, Central Security Forces’ commander, warns against confrontation; President Saleh indicates proclivity for GCC initiative

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab reportedly appoints a new leader; Somali TFG troops make gains in the south; Puntland Defense Forces clash with Somaliland soldiers; African Union asserts determination to build on Mogadishu gains; UN Special Representative warns of dangers in Mogadishu 

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni military forces killed four suspected al Qaeda-linked militants outside Zinjibar in southern Yemen. The four militants were killed by shells launched by the army at positions in al Khamila and Bajdar near Zinjibar.[1]
  • Commander of the Central Security Force, Brigadier General Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew, stated in an interview that regarding the crisis in Yemen, “There is no solution other than dialogue.” Alluding to tribesmen led by Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar and forces led by defected general Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, Saleh continued, “Some forces are pushing for confrontations. I reassure the Yemenis that this will not happen…concerns about a civil war in Yemen are false, God willing…But if they resort to arms or force, they know we will break their necks. And we will break the neck of anyone who tries to damage or harm the security and stability of the nation.”[2]
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh met with representatives from the Yemeni ruling party’s General People’s Congress (GPC) in Riyadh to discuss the ongoing crisis in Yemen and potential solutions to satisfy the opposition. Saleh indicated that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative was the “appropriate mechanism to be carried out and to ensure peaceful and smooth transfer of power in accordance with the constitution.” Saleh added that the way in which the GCC initiative ought to be implemented has yet to be determined.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Unconfirmed reports suggest that Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, also known as Ibrahim al Afghani, has been appointed as the new leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab militant group. Al Afghani replaced the group’s former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Abu Zubayr. Godane will reportedly be the new head of al Qaeda in East Africa.[4]
  • Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces made major gains in southern Somalia after engaging in heavy battles with al Shabaab fighters. Lt. Colonel Mohamed Farah Dahir reported that troops have successful established bases in Hawina village near Dhobley, close to the Kenyan border. The officer noted that troops had “inflicted heavy losses” on al Shabaab forces. He added that government forces are now “ready to counter and prevent any offensive from the fighters of al Shabaab” in that area.  At least one person was killed and three more injured as a result of the clashes.[5]
  • Puntland forces ambushed a convoy of Somaliland forces, sparking fierce clashes in Sool region’s Taleh district located near Garowe in northern Somalia. Puntland Defense Forces and Somaliland soldiers engaged each other using light and heavy weaponry. At least five people were killed in the clash and ten more wounded. Puntland Defense Forces reported that they have “arrested 19 persons including military commander Mohamed Dhodi and seized three vehicles.”[6]
  • The African Union (AU) released a statement in which Chairperson of the Commission Jean Ping asserted AU’s determination “to build on recent achievements in Mogadishu to further peace and security in Somalia.” Ping commended Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM troops “for their commitment and courage in dealing with Al?Shabab and, ultimately, forcing it to pull out of Mogadishu…He encourages them to pursue and intensify their efforts and… fully exploit this opportunity.” The chairperson urged TFG and AMISOM forces that “defeating the extremist elements holding the Somali people at ransom is within reach.”[7]
  • United Nations Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga commented on the situation in Somalia in a press conference on August 10, following al Shabaab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu. Mahiga told reporters that overall, he thought al Shabaab was weakening citing regional instability and AMISOM ability to disrupt the group’s local funding as primary factors. Mahiga also described al Shabaab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu, saying “In their tactical retreat…al Shabaab seemed to have fragmented into three columns…One column going southwards, another going westwards and another going northwards…they're still on the move.” Mahiga also warned that “Without immediate action to fill this gap, a real danger exists that the warlords and their militia groups will move forward to fill the vacuum created by al Shabaab's departure,” from the capital.[8]

[1] “Four Qaeda militants killed in Yemen: official,” AFP, August 11, 2011. Available:
[2] “Yemen general wants talks but ready to ‘break necks’,” Reuters, August 11, 2011. Available: 
[3] “President Saleh meets GPC officials in Riyadh,” SABA News, August 11, 2011. Available:
“Yemen's Saleh 'positive on power-transfer',” AFP, August 11, 2011. Available:
“Saleh Says He's Studying How to Implement Yemen Transition Plan,” Bloomberg, August 11, 2011. Available:
[4] Paul Richardson, “Somalian Militants Al-Shabaab May Have Replaced Its Leader, Stratfor Says,” Bloomberg, August 11, 2011. Available:
“Somalia's al Shabaab Appoints a New Leader,” STRATFOR Global Intelligence, August 11, 2011. Available through STRATFOR.
[5] “Military officer: Somalia govt soldiers making advances in south,” Shabelle Media Network, August 11, 2011. Available:
[6] “Somaliland, Puntland battle in northern Somalia town,” Shabelle Media Network, August 10, 2011. Available:
“Figting breaks out in Sool region between Somaliland, Puntland administrtatons,” Mareeg Online, August 10, 2011. Available:
[7] “The AU Determined to Build on Recent Achievements in Mogadishu to Further Peace and Security in Somalia,” African Union, August 10, 2011. Available:[1].pdf
[8] “PRESS CONFERENCE BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR SOMALIA,” United Nations Department of Public Information, August 10, 2011. Available:
Louis Charbonneau, “Somalia militants weakened, could regroup, UN says,” Reuters, August 11, 2011. Available:
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