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: Government, al Houthi rebels set timetable for implementation of truce; former bin Laden bodyguard says al Qaeda escalating efforts in southern Yemen; security forces arrest suspected AQAP member carrying explosives in Abyan province; explosion in Ma’rib kills two; southern leaders call for investigation into government actions in Lawder; U.S. delegation in Sana’a to discuss relations
Horn of Africa: Fighting continues in Mogadishu for fourth day, death toll at least 115 since Monday; Somali Information Ministry warns of imminent al Shabaab Ramadan offensive; UN appoints special piracy adviser
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni government officials and al Houthi rebels signed an agreement in Doha on Thursday, setting a timetable for the implementation of provisions in previous accords. General Ali bin Ali al Qaysi signed on behalf of the government, while Yusuf Abdullah Hussein al Faishi signed for the rebels. A Yemeni diplomat said the purpose of Qatari mediation was “not to reach a new agreement but to put in place mechanisms to apply previous agreements.”
- A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, Nasser Ahmed al Bahri, said recent al Qaeda attacks throughout Yemen’s south signal a likely escalation of the conflict there. He added that AQAP is too strong for Yemeni security forces to handle alone, and the government may need American support to survive. "I expect that the confrontations will escalate and will reach an open war between the government and al-Qaida fighters," he said. He explained that al Qaeda is targeting southern Yemen because relations between the government and residents in the once-independent region are already poor. "The southerners hate the government ... (so al-Qaida) is fishing in troubled waters. They wanted to instill fear and anxiety in the soldiers and they have succeeded," he said.
- Yemeni security forces arrested a suspected al Qaeda member in possession of an explosive-laden belt in Abyan governorate Thursday. Sources identified the man as Jihad Abdallah al Faqir, and said he was en route to Lawder when security officials stopped him. They also said he confessed that another al Qaeda member, Ali Alwi al Saqqaf, assigned the task of carrying out a suicide attack to him.
- An explosion targeting the Military Economic Corporation, a government building in Ma’rib governorate, killed two people and wounded two others Thursday.
- The former president of South Yemen, Ali Nasser Mohammad, and the former prime minister, Haidar al Attas, have called for an international investigation into recent events in Lawder, a city in Abyan governorate, accusing Yemeni authorities of “killing, corruption and destruction of the south in the name of combating al Qaeda.” They also claim that Yemeni government officials send al Qaeda militants to the south in order to have a pretext to attack the “peaceful Southern Movement.”
- A U.S. congressional delegation led by Senator George LeMieux arrived in Sana’a and met with President Saleh to discuss ways to strengthen both the economic and security ties between Yemen and the United States. Senator LeMieux and the delegation also met with Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi and Finance Minister Noman al Suhaibi.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Fighting between al Shabaab militants and pro-government forces in Mogadishu continued for a fourth consecutive day Thursday, with both sides claiming the upper hand. “Mujahideen fighters made new bases (in) the areas they captured from Uganda, Burundi and stooges including Dabka junction, Whelie hotel and 15 May school which is very close to the palace," said an al Shabaab statement posted on the jihadist forum, al Kataib. Police spokesman Abdulahi Hassan Barise refuted those claims, saying the government had not lost any ground in the fighting. “Government forces have held their defensive positions and over the last three days al Shabaab have suffered heavy casualties. Their bodies lie in the battlefield,” he said. Hundreds of Somalis fled the city in order to escape the violence there, although Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said clashes have subsided. He claimed government forces had killed 25 al Shabaab militants and wounded another 70 since the group launched its latest spate of attacks on Monday. Citing various sources, Garowe reports that at least 115 people have been killed and over 200 have been wounded since Monday.
- The Somali Ministry of Information issued a press release asking Mogadishu residents to remain calm in the event of al Shabaab beginning its Ramadan offensive. The Ministry expects a surge in violence, but tried to assure the population that it would beat back al Shabaab’s offensive, which it believes will commence Friday. “The Government is well prepared and together with AMISOM, has complete confidence in its plans to contain the violence,” it said.
- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Jack Lang to be the organization’s special adviser on piracy Thursday. Lang, a former law professor and French government official, will advise the UN on how to better prosecute suspected pirates and work towards building a better international legal apparatus to deal with them.