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: Yemen says fight against AQAP is responsibility of own forces, not U.S.; suspected al Qaeda militants attack patrol in Abyan, kill three policemen; security official says AQAP’s Adel Saleh Hardaba killed in Lawder battle; Southern Movement calls on Gulf states to withdraw from Gulf Cup; northern-based IDPs suffer from aid delays
Horn of Africa: Hotel bomber identified as former bodyguard of Abu Mansur; Somali president visits Muna Hotel, expresses resolve against al Shabaab; TFG says al Shabaab’s offensive contained; al Shabaab claims control of key road in Mogadishu; AFRICOM prepared to provide additional training and support to TFG; ONLF denounces former leader, says group is committed to signing deal with Ethiopia in October; UN considering piracy court; Ban Ki-moon says more could be done to combat piracy
Yemen Security Brief
- A Yemeni official rejected reports from American media that the rising threats posed by AQAP have the Obama Administration considering escalating military efforts against the terrorist group in Yemen. "The Yemeni security forces have succeeded in addressing terrorist elements and counter-terrorism," he said, emphasizing that the fight against AQAP within Yemen’s borders remain the responsibility of its security forces alone.
- Suspected al Qaeda militants attacked a security patrol in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate Wednesday, killing three policemen and wounding another two. Also, Yemeni security authorities throughout the province tightened their guards around vital buildings and facilities to prevent sabotage.
- Yemeni security forces killed a top AQAP official in its campaign against the militants in Lawder in Abyan province, a security official revealed. He said that AQAP’s second-in-command in the town, Adel Saleh Hardaba, died in Monday’s fighting there. Al Qaeda reportedly took control of the city.
- The Supreme Council of the Southern Movement called on Persian Gulf nations to withdraw from the Gulf Cup, which Yemen is hosting in Aden and Abyan in November. It said that participating countries are supporting Yemen’s government while “the south is bleeding.”
- Thousands of internally displaced persons in the northern Yemeni governorate of Amran have been affected by delays in food aid deliveries, according to aid workers. Aid workers also noted that the last food aid was delivered at the end of June, and that IDPs were still waiting for July rations. Tarek Elguindi, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen, said that the lack of safe access to IDPs and continued clashes between government forces and al Houthi rebels have hampered agency access to IDPs in Amran.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Sources identified one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Muna Hotel on Tuesday as Aden Hussein, a 16-year-old bodyguard of senior al Shabaab official Mukhtar Robow, also known as Abu Mansur. There is speculation that Robow hand-picked the suicide bombers.
- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed visited the Muna Hotel on Wednesday to express resolve in the TFG’s fight against Islamist militants. “Al Shabab’s assault on a hotel filled with fasting, innocent civilians is a proof of not only their evil nature but also their desperation. This terror attack will only redouble the Somali people’s resistance against this transient menace,” he said.
- The Somali government claimed on Thursday that it has contained an offensive by al Shabaab militants that had been launched in Mogadishu earlier in the week. Somalia’s minister of information said Thursday that, “since yesterday afternoon, the fighting has slowed.” He also said that sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city but that it was much less as compared to the previous three days.
- Sporadic gunfire rang out in Mogadishu Thursday after three days of heavy clashes between militants and government forces. According to one government official, “The situation is quiet for the time being.” The official also said that sporadic gunfire could be heard in the Bermuda area of the capital, where the heaviest fighting occurred on Wednesday. Al Shabaab officials said Wednesday that they nearly seized control of Makka al Mukarama road, a key supply route for AU forces. More than seventy civilians have been killed since the fighting erupted on Monday.
- General William Ward, U.S. Africa Command’s top officer, said Wednesday that he is prepared, if called upon, to lend more support to the embattled Somali military. AFRICOM already provides training to some African Union forces that deployed to Somalia, but General Ward is prepared to provide that training directly to Somali troops. “To the degree that the Transitional Federal Government and its military structure requires and asks for that same thing, we are prepared to do that,” Ward said during an interview on Monday. He also added that the final decision would have to be made by the White House, not AFRICOM.
- The Ogaden National Liberation Front issued a statement on Tuesday affirming the group’s commitment to finalizing a peace agreement with Ethiopia in October. The ONLF also denounced Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman, its previous leader, who is continuing an insurgency against the government under the group’s banner. “Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman is not acting like one of the Ogadenian people but he is acting by himself with a few disillusioned followers that happen to be his relatives whom use to spread propaganda on the internet pages by denying the organisations’ peace deal with Ethiopia,” the statement said.
- The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday discussed options for prosecuting piracy suspects captured off the coast of Somalia. The possibilities ranged from strengthening courts in countries currently volunteering to prosecute piracy, to establishing a UN-sanctioned international tribunal.
- In a Security Council debate on Wednesday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that more can be done to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. He noted that in the past seven months there have been 139 piracy-related incidents off the Somali coast. Thirty ships have been hijacked, and seventeen ships are currently being held for ransom. “We can do more,” Mr. Ban said. “In particular, we need to implement the existing legal regime, so the fight against piracy in international waters is effective.” Last week, Mr. Ban released a report identifying several options for implementing the legal regime in the fight against piracy. The report details the advantages and disadvantages of the options, which include supporting existing domestic courts, creating a new chamber within national courts, or establishing entirely new tribunals to try suspects charged with piracy.