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 withdraw from offensive in Zinjibar; AQAP releases biography of slain fighter; protests continue in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab bans TV channels transmitted by satellite dishes in Middle Shabelle region; U.S. eases restrictions on aid in al Shabaab territories; UN agrees to apply sanctions to violators of children’s rights in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Tribesmen have reportedly withdrawn from a military offensive in Zinjibar due to a government airstrike on July 29 that killed 40 pro-government fighters.  Among the dead were four army officers and a prominent tribal sheikh.  Mohammed Gaadani, a survivor of the strike, said the tribesmen demand an apology if they are expected to resume the offensive.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a biography of a fighter named Talut al Sana’ani, also known as Usama Ahmed Hafidhullah al ‘Amrani, who was killed in a raid on central security checkpoint in Shabwah governorate on July 24, 2010.  The biography describes Sana’ani as a “courageous and brave” fighter who participated in two raids against government forces in July 2010, including one in which he killed three soldiers.  The author claims that Sana’ani “thought of joining the mujahideen” since childhood, and was once arrested at a military checkpoint in Yemen after trying to travel to Somalia.[2]
  • Thousands of Yemenis continue anti-government demonstrations in Sana’a, and have promised to intensify their protests.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab banned residents in Jowhar town of Middle Shabelle region from watching channels transmitted by satellite dishes.  Locals think the new restrictions aim to hide al Shabaab’s recent military setbacks from the public.  Al Shabaab threatened to confiscate satellite dishes and other electronic devices from residents who refuse to comply.[4]
  • State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States government will not penalize international aid organizations “in the event [that] their operations may accidentally benefit al Shabaab.” Toner said, “given the scope of the crises right now in the Horn of Africa, what we thought was important was both to send a strong message publicly to these groups that are working in the region that it’s okay for them to bring this kind of humanitarian assistance into areas that are controlled by al-Shabaab – they won’t be held accountable to U.S. laws that previously constrained them – and also to ease some of the licensing requirements on them.”  Another senior State Department official said, “we are seeking to reassure our humanitarian assistance partners, implementing partners, that they need not fear prosecution under OFAC regulations as long as they are engaged in good-faith efforts to deliver food to people in need.”[5]
  • The UN Security Council agreed to apply sanctions “against any individuals or entities that violate children’s rights” in Somalia.   Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said, “Starting today, in Somalia, if you kill, maim, recruit, use or sexually violate children, or if you attack their schools and hospitals, you can be sanctioned… This is one step closer to ending impunity of the worst violators of children in war.”[6]

[1] Ahmed al Haj, “Botched Yemen airstrikes harms anti-militant fight,” AP, August 2, 2011. Available:
[2] “AQAP Released Biography of Fighter Slain in Shabwa,” SITE Intelligence Group, August 2, 2011. Available at SITE.
[3] Mohammed Ghobari, “As bleak Ramadan begins, Yemeni protestors cling to hope,” Reuters, August 3, 2011. Available:
[4] Mohamed Abukar, “Al-Shabaab bans Thaicom-site in Jowhar town,” Suna Times, August 2, 2011. Available:
[5] Mark C. Toner, “Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, August 2, 2011. Available:
“Background Briefing on Somalia and Delivery of Humanitarian Assistance,” U.S. Department of State, August 2, 2011. Available:
Andrew Quinn, “US relaxes limits on Somalia aid as famine looms,” Reuters, August 3, 2011. Available:
[6] “UN envoy welcomes step on sanctions against violators of children in Somalia,” UN News Centre, August 2, 2011. Available:
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