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: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for two July attacks in Shabwah governorate; security forces arrest four suspected al Qaeda members following attack in Abyan governorate; man arrested in connection with suicide bomb that wounded nine policemen; Yemen wants to end automatic asylum for Somalis amid security, financial concerns; soldiers clash with tribesmen in Ma’rib; dialogue committee meets for first time Saturday

Horn of Africa: Puntland security forces kill 15 militants in major battle, claim to have recaptured Galgala Hills from Islamist rebels; UN relocating Somalia missions back to country; U.K. blocks sanctions on pirates, fears endangering hostages; Somali president says only solution for country is increased foreign presence; Iranian FM says country ready to help Somalia solve its crisis; Puntland arrests seven pirates in raid; al Shabaab bans three Christian aid agencies; Hizb al Islam leader calls for help to needy during Ramadan; U.S. helicopter thwarts pirate attack on merchant ship; Somali pirates abandon MV SYRIA STAR, crew in Gulf of Aden

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a July 25 attack on Yemeni security forces in Shabwah province that killed six soldiers. The statement, published Saturday on Islamist websites, acknowledged that two of its own militants had died in the attack, but promised to continue attacks against the government of the “tyrant,” President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "Until they repent, Ali Abdullah Saleh, his government and his soldiers are a legitimate target for us. We also consider all those who support (Saleh) and the crusader campaign against the Muslim nation a legitimate target," the message said. A second statement claimed responsibility for a July 22 attack in the same region that killed five soldiers.[1]
  • Yemeni security forces arrested four suspected al Qaeda members accused of killing three soldiers in a Thursday raid in Abyan province. The gunmen opened fire on a security patrol before fleeing on motorcycles.[2]
  • Yemeni security forces arrested a man suspected of involvement with a suicide bomber who injured nine policemen in Dhaleh province last Tuesday.[3]
  • Yemen is pushing to strip Somalis of their automatic asylum status, which it has granted them for the past 20 years, because it can no longer cope with the influx of refugees. Essam al Mahbashi, a subcommittee member for Yemen’s national refugee agency, said many of those who come seeking asylum are simply economic migrants attempting to immigrate for better economic opportunities, or even as militants to fight with al Qaeda. “Not all Somalis are fleeing conflict. Many are immigrants who come from safe regions such as Bosasso in search of better economic opportunities," he said.[4]
  • A clash erupted between Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen in Ma’rib province Sunday, according to local sources. The soldiers were attempting to take three tribesmen, who were injured in a clash on Friday, to a local hospital when the gunfight broke out. No casualties were reported.[5]
  • The National Dialogue Committee met for the first time on Saturday to elect leadership and discuss political and electoral reforms in preparation of April 2011 parliamentary elections. The panel includes members of both the ruling and opposition parties.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Puntland security forces attacked a militant base on Sunday, responding to a raid on an army post near Boosaaso. Yusuf Ahmed Kheir, Puntland’s security minister, said his forces killed 15 militants fighting for rebel leader Mohamed Atom. Militant spokesmen Abdullahi Sheikh said his group suffered only seven casualties—no deaths—in the fighting, but claimed civilians were killed. Puntland authorities claim the operation completed a successful operation where its security forces have crushed the rebels and retaken the Galgala Hills.[7]
  • The United Nations has decided to move its Somalia missions back inside the country from Kenya, following a 17-year absence due to security concerns. Augustine Mahiga, the UN envoy to Somalia, said the increased AMISOM troop deployment made the relocation possible, which could happen within 60 days. He also said the UN sought to establish presences in Somaliland and Puntland.[8]
  • The United Kingdom blocked a UN effort to impose sanctions on two suspected Somali pirates, Abshir Abdillahi and Mohamed Abdi Garaad, after a warning that the move could further endanger crews. There is growing concern that paying pirate ransoms is only encouraging and further funding piracy; however, British government contends that criminalizing ransom payments could put sailors in the way of increased harm.[9]
  • Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said the only solution to his country’s instability is an increased foreign military presence. "We are appealing to the world to help Somalia restore peace and stability... we need powerful foreign troops who can defeat the Islamists fighting us,” he said. He added that, without foreign help, al Shabaab will take over the entire country.[10]
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with the Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Mahboub Ma’alim and said Iran is ready to do what it can to resolve Somalia’s crisis.  Mottaki also warned that “only the Somali people can resolve the crisis troubling their homeland.”[11]
  • Puntland security forces arrested seven pirates in a raid on Sunajif, a village 60 kilometers from Garowe, in the second such operation in a week.[12]
  • Al Shabaab banned three Christian aid agencies from operating in territories it controls. In a statement it demanded that World Vision, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and Diakonia leave Somalia immediately because they are propagating Christian beliefs.[13]
  • Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys called on Somali people to help those displaced by conflict during the holy month of Ramadan. He said that these people could not count on aid agencies for support, and needed individuals to step up and help.[14]
  • A helicopter from the USS Kauffman thwarted a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia on Monday, after picking up a distress call from the merchant ship Ice Explorer. The helicopter crew saw pirates in a skiff dumping weapons and other equipment into the water as they approached.[15]
  • Somali pirates abandoned the MV SYRIA STAR, a ship flagged to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, just days after they hijacked the sugar cargo ship. Two members of the ship’s 24-man, mostly Syrian crew suffered non-serious injuries during their captivity.[16]

[1] “Al-Qaeda claims Yemen attack that killed six soldiers,” AFP, August 8, 2010. Available: 
“Al Qaeda claims attacks in Yemen oil province,” Reuters, August 7, 2010. Available:
[2] “Yemen arrests 4 al-Qaeda suspects after killing of 3 soldiers,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), August 7, 2010. Available:
[3] “Yemen arrest man suspected of Dalea blast,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), August 8, 2010.  Available:  
[4] “Yemen-Somalia: Somalis set to lose automatic refugee status ,” IRIN, August 9, 2010.  Available:
[5] “Police Fighting Tribesmen in Marib Province,” Yemen Post, August 8, 2010. Available:
[6] “Yemen political parties start dialogue over reform,” Yemen Observer, August 9, 2010. Available:
[7] “Somalia: Soldiers kill 15 militia members,” AP, August 8, 2010. Available:
“Somalia: Puntland forces conquer militants hideout ‘Galgala,’” Garowe, August 9, 2010. Available:
[8] “U.N. Back to Somalia After 17 Years,” NY Times, August 8, 2010. Available:
[9] “UK blocks UN move to end pirate funding,” Financial Times, August 8, 2010. Available: 
[10] “Military force needed to stabilize Somalia,” Garowe, August 7, 2010. Available:
[11] “’Iran ready to help resolve Somali crisis,’” Press TV, August 8, 2010. Available:
[12] “Somalia: Puntland Security Forces Apprehend More Pirates,” Garowe, August 7, 2010. Available:
[13] “Somali militant group bans 3 aid agencies,” AP, August 9, 2010. Available:
[14] “Hisbul Islam leader calls feeble people to be helped,” Mareeg, August 7, 2010. Available:
[15] “Helicopter from US warship disrupts pirate attack off Somalia's coast,” AP, August 9, 2010. Available:
[16] “Pirates abandon sugar ship near Somalia,” UPI, August 9, 2010. Available:
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