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: Saleh discharged from hospital, stays in Saudi Arabia; security forces battle opposition tribesmen in Sana’a; Yemeni Tribes’ Alliance warns against aggression; Republican Guard forces and tribesmen clash in Taiz
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab withdraws from Mogadishu; al Shabaab attacks bases in Gedo; Somali forces clash with al Shabaab in Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district; Somali officials congratulate forces on gains; unidentified gunmen attack civilians; gunmen assassinate Puntland police officer; UNHCR airlifts aid to capital; Somali presidents requests more troops; Jihadists announce western jihadist’s death
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the hospital in Riyadh on August 7 and has been moved to a government residence in Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Mujawar was also released. Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) spokesman Mohammed Qahtan commented on Saleh’s released claiming, “it does not mean anything to us.” Qahtan continued, “There is a revolution against the president, against Ali Abdullah Saleh, and it will continue until his regime ends.”
- Security forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with armed tribesmen in al Hasaba district in Sana’a. Soldiers from the Republican Guard exchanged gunfire with tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar near the Ahmar family compound for two days. Three Republican Guard soldiers were reportedly injured.
- The Yemeni Tribes’ Alliance warned security forces against any “new military aggression” in al Hasaba district in Sana’a. The alliance asserted that the tribes would respond to any further aggression against the tribes or tribesmen involved in the popular revolution. The alliance also urged Republican Guard forces “to leave their positions as they realize that Saleh family is using them, and to avoid legal accountability for what is happening in the country.”
- Republican Guard forces clashed with armed tribesmen supporting peaceful protestors in Taiz. Pro-Saleh security forces killed one protestor and injured three others when they opened fire to disperse an anti-Saleh protest. Two soldiers were also killed in gun battles with armed tribesmen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab fighters announced their withdrawal from Mogadishu on August 6. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage confirmed that “fighters have abandoned Mogadishu.” The spokesman claimed the move was a tactical withdrawal, vowing to launch heavy attacks against AMISOM and Somali forces soon to regain ceded territory. Rage stated, “We aren't leaving you, but we have changed our tactics.” Al Shabaab forces retreated from Bakara Market, Daynile district and other key positions following clashes with Somali government forces, AU troops, and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a overnight Friday August 5. Ten people were killed and dozens more injured in the fighting. Somali and AMISOM forces expanded into areas previously held by al Shabaab, reaching Stadium Mogadishu, Wadnaha road, and Sodonka road. Troops advanced cautiously anticipating explosives left behind by al Shabaab.
- Al Shabaab fighters attacked military bases in Luq district of Gedo region. Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops engaged in a heavy gunfight with al Shabaab fighters. Residents reported four people were killed and a number of others injured as a result.
- Clashes broke out between al Shabaab fighters and TFG and AMISOM forces on August 7 in Yaqshid district in Mogadishu. At least one soldier was killed and two others wounded. Residents reported that four civilians, including a mother and her children, were killed by a mortar shell. At least seven more people were reportedly injured.
- Somali President Sharif and Prime Minister Ali congratulated the national army and AMISOM on removing al Shabaab from the capital. Prime Minister Ali vowed to continue hunting al Shabaab fighters across the country. The Somali cabinet met on Sunday in Mogadishu to discuss ways to ensure security after al Shabaab’s withdrawal from the capital. The cabinet agreed upon the formation of “Special Forces” to combat bandits and looters. Somali government spokesperson Abdurrahman Omar Osman Yarisow called for al Shabaab to put down their weapons and accept peace “while there is yet a time.”
- Unidentified gunmen attacked civilians in the village of Goryalle of Abudwaq in central Somalia on August 7. At least two civilians were killed and one other injured in the attack. The Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a administration deployed forces to the area following the incident.
- Gunmen assassinated a Puntland police officer in Boosaaso port town on August 7. The gunmen used pistols to carry out the attack and fled the scene after killing the officer. Puntland forces have taken custody of at least ten people allegedly in connection with the killing.
- The UNHCR relief agency airlifted aid to Mogadishu for the first time in five years on August 8. Andy Needham from the UNHCR told reporters “We took the unprecedented decision to take the airlift for speed due to the famine”. Roughly 31 metric of tons of emergency supplies were airlifted into Mogadishu on August 8, following al Shabaab’s withdrawal from the city.
- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed flew to Uganda’s capital, Kampala, on August 7. President Sharif requested 3,000 more troops from Uganda to “bolster the precarious peace in Mogadishu.” The TFG also requested additional troops from Burundi, following al Shabaab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu.
- A member of the Ansar al Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF) announced the death of a western jihadist who had joined al Shabaab. Mustafa al Muhajir, reportedly raised in the “land of the kuffar (a non Muslim land),” is believed to be from Canada. Mustafa’s father allegedly worked for the United Nations in Hargeisa. Mustafa, according to AMEF had previously appeared in a video released by al Shabaab in June 2010 entitled, “The African Crusaders: fighting the West’s War.” Mustafa was killed by a tank shell during a clash with forces combating al Shabaab in Somalia.