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: Qatar directly contacting al Houthi leader, group denies country influenced decision to release Yemeni soldiers; Yemen to train 500 high school graduates for security of Gulf Cup soccer tournament; gunmen fire on Abyan governorate official’s car, kill two; former defense minister maintains independence, says will not represent JMP in national dialogue panel; security authorities arrest 140 Ethiopians illegally entering country
Horn of Africa: AMISOM sources say Islamist unity talks breaking down, claim 200 kills since Kampala bombing; Uganda commander says 26 Ugandans dead in Somalia fighting in past year, supports troop increase; remote detonated explosive kills three civilians in Mogaidshu; shelling in Bakara Market kills five, wounds 20; Puntland president praises security forces, says deportations the result of al Shabaab; South African official says troops ready if president orders them to Somalia; Botswana will not send troops to Somalia; Ethiopia signs peace agreement with Somali rebel group; Spanish warship thwarts hijacking of Norwegian tanker; Somali minister urges pirates to release Chandlers, asks governments not to pay ransoms
Yemen Security Brief
- Qatar is directly contacting Abdul Malik al Houthi in order to prevent an escalation of conflict between his rebel group and the Yemeni government following an endorsement of such mediation by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, an al Houthi source denied reports that the release of 280 captive Yemeni soldiers was the result of pressure from the Qatari government. The source also said that Qatar would not mediate another ceasefire until the climate is more suitable for talks, in order to avoid the failure of its diplomatic intervention in 2007.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry will train 500 recruited high-school graduates as additional security for the upcoming Gulf Cup soccer tournament, which Yemen is hosting in spite of security concerns. An anonymous security official said, "The most thing that concerns us and our neighboring Gulf countries are al-Qaida. We are not fearing any possible riots from the southern separatists, but a small attack by al-Qaida will be a disaster on the tournament."
- Unidentified gunmen fired on a car carrying the director general of Abyan governorate’s al Mavhad district. Yasslam al Anbori escaped the attack, but two men in his personal detail were killed and another was wounded.
- Yemeni ex-Defense Minister Abdul Malik al Silyani said he will not represent the Joint Meeting Parties in the national dialogue panel, insisting he is independent and not part of the political opposition. “The JMP should have included all those who form the opposition, particularly those who have demands the government should meet,” he said.
- Yemeni security authorities arrested 140 Ethiopians attempting to enter the country illegally on Wednesday in the coastal Thubab district.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- AMISOM spokesman Maj. Barigye Ba-Hoku said that unity talks between Hizb al Islam and al Shabaab continue to falter due to demands by Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is seeking high-profile portfolios for his group, including head of defense and finance, which al Shabaab has rejected. Ba-Hoku claimed AMISOM forces have killed 200 Islamist militants and wounded an additional 300 since the Kampala bombings. "Information provided by the locals here indicates that they could have lost well over 200 fighters and another 300 injured during the month of July alone," he said.
- The commander of Uganda’s Land Forces, General Katumba Wamala, said 26 Ugandan soldiers were killed and 68 were wounded in the past year’s fighting in Somalia. He also supported an increased mission in Somalia, saying, "Last month we encountered a situation of growing concern when we had attacks on the UPDF but we had to take over some positions and fight back. We have serious threats and we can't ignore them. We need more soldiers in Somalia."
- A remotely detonated explosive in Mogadishu’s Bondere district killed three civilians and wounded at least 12 others on Wednesday. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but district commissioner Abdullahi Xersi Wardere said the perpetrator was seen with the detonation device and subsequently captured by security forces.
- Shelling between al Shabaab and AMISOM troops in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market killed five people and wounded at least 20 others on Tuesday.
- Puntland President Mohamed Mahmoud Farole praised his security forces for their efforts against Islamist militants on the 12th anniversary of Puntland’s establishment. "I praise our security forces for their struggle to defend the State and its people against terrorists and their sympathizers," he said. He also said all Somalis were welcome in Puntland, and that the recent deportations were the result of security concerns arising from the activity of al Shabaab.
- South Africa Department of Defense spokesman Simphiwe Dlamini said the country’s army is prepared to deploy to Somalia if President Jacob Zuma orders it.
- Botswana said Tuesday that it will not send troops to Somalia because it has more pressing needs at home, including the protection of wildlife from poachers.
- Ethiopia signed a peace agreement with the United Western Somali Liberation Front, a rebel militant group that has been active in the country’s eastern Ogaden region for 24 years. The official peace deal followed an informal ceasefire that went into effect in April. However, the region’s more active and violent militant group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, rejected the agreement. “The Ethiopian regimes so-called ‘peace deal’ with the Ogaden branch of the now defunct Al-Itihaad Al-Islaami organization known as the United Western Somali Liberation Front has no impact on facts on the ground in Ogaden and represents an attempt by the regime to promote the idea that a non-existent peace process is underway in Ogaden.”
- A Spanish patrol ship thwarted an attack by Somali pirates on the Norwegian chemical tanker MV Bow on Tuesday. The Spanish naval forces captured all seven pirates as they tried to flee following the failed hijacking.
- Somali Rehabilitation and Social Affairs Minister Mohammed Omar Dalha urged pirates to stop hijacking ships and to immediately and unconditionally release their British hostages, Paul and Rachel Chandler. He also said foreign governments should not pay ransom to the pirates because it only encourages their behavior. “By giving ransom money to the pirates by the companies which their vessels are hijacked by them is doubling the inferno situation of Somalia, and will make them (Pirates) more advanced in purchasing world leading speed boats and other materials which can make their operations of hijacking smooth and smart”