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: Firefights occur outside the Yemeni intelligence headquarters in Aden; suspected al Qaeda operatives strike gas pipeline in Shabwah governorate
Horn of Africa: Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies overnight; TFG Somali President Sharif pardons low-level criminals in celebration of Eid, including a handful of al Shabaab operatives; Aweys speaks at Eid al Fitr celebration in Lower Shabelle; hundreds of newly trained al Shabaab militants appear in Hiraan; Mahiga congratulates TSC and council of elders; al Shabaab release two communiques; al Shabaab announces results of Quranic reciting competition
Yemen Security Brief
- Armed men, suspected to be al Qaeda-linked militants, fired machine guns at the Yemeni intelligence headquarters in Aden the night of August 20. The building had been the target of the August 18 attack that killed at least 14 Yemeni soldiers. Reuters reported that Yemeni guards responded to the attack, but that there were no casualties.
- Suspected al Qaeda operatives bombed a liquefied gas pipeline leading to Belhaf’s export terminal on August 21. Shabwah security chief Brigadier General Ahmed Omeir reported that the explosion occurred in Zahira village at Station 5. No casualties were reported; however, the Yemeni Ministry of Oil has stated that ongoing sabotage attacks have created a loss in revenue reaching 15 million dollars per day.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- State-run television reported that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died overnight in a hospital in Brussels. European Economic Commission spokesman Oliver Bailly reported to Reuters that Prime Minister Zenawi died in Brussels after receiving treatment for the last two months. The acting prime minister will be Hailemariam Desalegn, who served as Prime Minister Zenawi’s Deputy Prime Minister. Given the sudden exit of Zenawi, many Ethiopians fear instability may arise with the absence of an established leader like Meles Zenawi.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed released over 200 criminals in celebration of Eid al Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Minister for Religious Affairs Ahmed Hassan Gaboobe stated inmates with only minor convictions have been pardoned. Sources later reported that several al Shabaab operatives were released from prison, raising questions about the reasons behind this move.
- Al Shabaab leader Hassan Dahir Aweys spoke at an Eid al Fitr celebration in Barawe in Lower Shabelle, encouraging residents to fight against AMISOM and TFG forces on August 19. Aweys stated that al Shabaab will continue to fulfill its mission of recapturing territories lost to AMISOM and TFG forces.
- Local residents reported to Radio Kulmiye that hundreds of newly trained al Shabaab fighters are now operating in Hiraan region. Their mission, according to the source, will be to wage war on government and AMISOM troops in the region.
- Following the inauguration of the new Somali Federal Parliament, Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, offered congratulations to the Traditional Elders and the Technical Selection Committee (TSC) for successfully managing the process. In similar comments, the international community, including AMISOM, EU, UK, Turkey, and the U.S., reaffirmed their support for Somalis and their commitment to creating a permanent government. A total of 215 out of the 275 Members of Parliament were sworn in, easily surpassing the required benchmark of 185.
- Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for killing nearly 70 Kenyan soldiers in Fafadun in Gedo region in two communiqués issued on jihadist forums on August 19. Additionally, al Shabaab took credit for multiple bombings and assassinations targeting Somali forces in the Bakool, Banadir, and Bay regions.
- Al Shabaab announced the results of its Quran-reciting competition held in the al Rahma mosque in the city of Marka in Lower Shabelle. They reported a large audience, including attendance from Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Raji, the official spokesperson, and Sheikh Abu Abdullah, the governor of the province.