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: Ibrahim al Rubaish blames Muslims for tragedies in audio tape; local residents blockade government building near Zinjibar city; military police clash with tribesmen near Sana’a; unidentified assailants bomb oil pipeline in Shabwah governorate; gunmen storm prosecutor’s office in Sana’a; residents protest in al Dhaleh city; residents protest in Aden governorate; security forces reportedly seize 12,000 weapons in November; President Hadi meets with military restructuring team in Sana’a; military officials come to an agreement with tribal leaders in Ma’rib governorate; fugitive kills three civilians in al Bayda governorate; gunmen kidnap director general of customs in Sana’a; Sa’ada governor Fares Mana’a survives an assassination attempt

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Puntland military base, blow up military vehicle in the Galgala Mountains, Bari region; Somali President meets Turkish President and Prime Minister in Istanbul, Turkey; UN says $1.3 billion needed for humanitarian work in Somalia; Somalia most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index

Yemen Security Brief

  • Ibrahim al Rubaish, the spiritual leader for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released an audio tape on December 3. Rubaish stated in the audio tape that Muslims have invited America’s criminality upon themselves. He added that Muslims are responsible for the tragedies inflicted upon them by America.[1]
  • Local residents reportedly blockaded a government building in the Sheikh Abdullah region near Zinjibar city on December 5. Local sources reported that the building was hosting a secret meeting with senior government officials, by some accounts including Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa.[2]
  • Yemeni military police clashed with tribesmen on the outskirts of Sana’a on December 5. Local sources reported that at least three military policemen were wounded in the clashes. The fighting was sparked after tribesmen attempted to knock down electricity towers in Nihm region near Sana’a.[3]
  • Unidentified assailants reportedly bombed an oil pipeline in Shabwah governorate on December 4. Local sources reported that the assailants placed an improvised explosive device (IED) underneath an oil pipeline in al Rawdha district. The targeted pipeline connects oil fields in Ma’rib governorate with the Belhaf export terminal.[4]
  • Gunmen reportedly affiliated with influential Yemeni businessman Hamid al Ahmar stormed a prosecutor’s office in Hadda neighborhood in Sana’a on December 5. The gunmen were led by an individual identified as Bader al Arjeli, who was once imprisoned by the prosecutor’s office.[5]
  • Local residents in al Dhaleh city protested on December 5 against recent military action in a number of villages. Local sources reported on December 4 that the 33rd Armored Brigade carried out a shelling campaign in al Jalela village and surrounding areas. Two civilians were reportedly killed in the attack. Local sources reported that several schools and a government building were shut down in protest. Unconfirmed reports added that clashes between the 33rd Armored Brigade and citizens have continued on December 5.[6]
  • Civilians in Aden governorate protested by setting tires on fire and blocking roads on December 5. Local sources reported that the protests occurred as European Union officials were visiting Aden city. Local sources added that traffic between Khormaksar and al Tawahi districts was blocked by the protesters.[7]
  • Local sources reported on December 4 that security forces seized roughly 12,000 weapons in several Yemeni governorates during November. The weapons were seized following the implementation of a new campaign to remove weapons from capitals and major cities.[8]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with a team of military restructuring officials on December 4. President Hadi stressed during the meeting that the military restructuring process should focus on impartiality, justice, and equality in order to avoid causing disagreements.[9]
  • Yemeni military officials and tribesmen reached an agreement to end military action in Ma’rib governorate on December 4. Local sources reported that an agreement between senior governorate officials and tribal leaders has halted government military action against tribesmen in the region. Roughly 30 tanks and other armored vehicles took part in the campaign launched on December 2 to prevent tribesmen from targeting oil pipelines. Engineer teams will now be deployed in Ma’rib governorate to repair damaged pipelines.[10]
  • A fugitive who escaped from the central prison in Rada’a district of al Bayda governorate killed three civilians on December 4. The fugitive, identified as Ali Saylan al Dharibi, killed the three civilians following a verbal altercation.[11]
  • Unidentified gunmen from Khawlan district kidnapped the Director General of Sana’a Customs Mohammed al Akwa in Sana’a on December 4. The gunmen reportedly released Akwa hours after the kidnapping.[12]
  • Locally appointed Sa’ada governor Fares Mana’a survived an assassination attempt on December 4. Local sources reported that unidentified gunmen opened fire on Mana’a’s vehicle, resulting in three of his bodyguards being wounded. The assassination attempt occurred in the Harf Sufyan region.[13]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Puntland military base outside Boosaaso, Bari region, near the Galgala Mountains on December 4. At least 11 Puntland soldiers were killed in the attack and seven others were injured. Puntland officials say seven al Shabaab militants were killed during the fighting. Al Shabaab claimed that it killed at least 17 Puntland troops in the raid on Twitter. As the Puntland forces were trying to evacuate the injured, a roadside IED exploded beneath one of their convoys. Reportedly, 12 Puntland soldiers were killed in the explosion and another 15 soldiers were injured.[14]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan on December 5 in Istanbul. This is the first time President Mohamud has traveled out of Africa since taking office. The heads of state talked about strengthening the relationship between their countries, including discussions on security and economic progress.[15]
  • The United Nations officials visiting Mogadishu on December 4 said they would need $1.3 billion dollars to help nearly half of the Somali population in humanitarian crises. Officials said that while much help is needed in the country, progress is finally possible due to stabilizing security, increased food stock, and an improved political atmosphere.[16]
  • According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Somalia ranks first as the most corrupt country in the world. Afghanistan and North Korea are also tied for first. The rankings are a result of surveying citizens in each country to obtain a numeric value for perceived corruption.[17]   

[1] “AQAP Official Says Muslims to Blame for Criminality,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 3, 2012. Available at SITE.
[2] “Breaking: Sons of Zinjibar Blockade Government in Abyan Governorate Building and Basindwa with Three Ministers,” Barakish, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Breaking: Three 3 Soldiers Wounded in Confrontations and Mediation Teams Sent to Repair Electricity Lines,” Barakish, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “New Oil Pipeline Explosion in Shabwah,” Barakish, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Breaking: Gunmen for Hamid al Ahmar Storm Prosecutor’s Office Building in Sana’a,” Barakish, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Protests in al Dhaleh a Day after Government Killings,” Aden al Ghad, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Protests in Aden City in Occurring Simultaneously with the Visit of Government Officials,” Aden al Ghad, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Interior Ministry Seizes Over 12,000 Weapons in November,” SABA, December 4, 2012. Available:
[9] “President Meets Army Restructuring Committee,” SABA, December 4, 2012. Available:
[10] “Yemen Starts Repairing Oil Pipeline after Deal with Tribesmen,” Reuters, December 4, 2012. Available:
[11] “Three Killed and Others Wounded in at the Hand of a Fugitive from the Central Prison in Rada’a,” al Watan, December 5, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[12] “Gunmen from Khawlan Kidnap Director General of Sana’a Customs,” al Watan, December 4, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[13] “Armed Assault Targets Sa’ada Governor,” al Watan, December 4, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[14] “Somali Militants Kill at Least 11 Puntland Soldiers,” Reuters, December 5, 2012. Available:
“Official: Islamist Militants Kill 12 Soldiers in Semiautonomous Puntland Region of Somalia,” Washington Post, December 5, 2012. Available:
“Bomb Attack on Puntland Forces Kills 12, Injures 15,” Shabelle, December 5, 2012. Available:
“Ten Killed as Militants Clash with Puntland Forces in Galgala,” Bar Kulan, December 5, 2012. Available:
“HSM Press Office Tweet: Casualties from Attack,” HSM Press Office, December 5, 2012. Available:
“HSM Press Office Tweet: Casualties from IED,” HSM Press Office, December 5, 2012. Available:
[15] “Somali President Receives a Warm welcome in Turkey,” Shabelle, December 5, 2012. Available:
“President Mohamud Meets His Turkish Counterpart in Ankara,” Bar Kulan, December 5, 2012. Available:
[16] “Somali Aid Crisis ‘Critical’ but Chance for Change,” AFP, December 4, 2012. Available:
[17] “Somalia Tops List of Most Corrupt Countries in the World,” Bar Kulan, December 5, 2012. Available:
“Corruption Perceptions Index,” Transparency International, December 5, 2012. Available:
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