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: 13 injured in explosion in qat market in Sana’a; Saudi funding of Yemeni tribes could be contributing to instability in the country

Horn of Africa: Two members of al Shabaab sentenced to four-year prison terms in Sweden; Puntland authorities kill two al Shabaab assassins in Boosaaso; Puntland forces begin security operations in Galkayo city; second batch of 220 marine recruits begin training in Puntland; Spanish Defense Minister to propose international piracy tribunal to UN

Yemen Security Brief

  • Unknown attackers detonated an explosive device at the entrance to a qat market in Sana’a, injuring 13 people, three critically.[1]
  • Saudi Arabia’s funding of Yemeni tribes could be contributing to instability in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia is Yemen’s largest donor nation, providing funds for the government, the army, and hospitals.  However, it is also giving money to Yemeni tribes.  Saudi officials claim that these tribal aid projects are meant to deprive al Qaeda of popular support, when some officials worry that they are instead draining support for the central government, thus giving al Qaeda more influence.  Political analyst Abdul Ghani al Iryani said, “Saudi support of the tribes has a clear negative impact on state-building and by extension, its ability to fight AQAP.”[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Two members of al Shabaab were sentenced to four year prison terms in Sweden for planning “terrorist crimes.”  The men, aged 23 and 26, are Somali born Swedish citizens and were arrested in May and June.[3]
  • Puntland authorities shot and killed two alleged al Shabaab assassins in Boosaaso after the assassins attacked Finance Ministry employee Ali Osman Buh.  Following the shooting, police chased the men to a house and surrounded it.  The police were forced to open fire when the gunmen exited the house with grenades and guns.[4] 
  • Following recent instability due to clan fighting in Galkayo in Mudug region, Puntland forces have begun security operations.  Police have arrested a number of people accused of causing instability in the region.[5]
  • The second batch of 220 marine recruits began training in Puntland at a ceremony attended by the President, the Vice President, and the Security Minister.  The Vice President told recruits to use their training to protect Puntland from Somali pirates.  While training is being provided by a Ugandan security firm, the Muslim nation that is funding the program is still unknown.[6]
  • Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon plans to propose an international piracy tribunal when she meets with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in New York next week.  Chacon said pirate attacks this year, “have dropped from 170 to 120, we have doubled the number of groups held, but we have a legal problem… We need to close the matter with an international tribunal in the area capable of punishing these pirates, relocate a Somali court or use some of the international cooperation agencies.”[7]

[1] “13 Hurt in Capital Qat Market Blast,” Yemen Post, December 9, 2010. Available:
[2] “Saudi Arabia Plays Yemen Double Game Says Experts,” Reuters, December 8, 2010. Available:
[3] “Al-Shabab Members Jailed for Plotting Somali Blasts,” BBC News, December 9, 2010. Available:
[4] “Somalia: Puntland Police Kill 2 Assassins, Blame al Shabaab,” Garowe Online, December 9, 2010. Available:
[5] “Puntland Forces Carry Out Operations in Galka,o City,” Mareeg Online, December 9, 2010. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Puntland VP Opens Training for Second Batch of 220 Marine Recruits,” Garowe Online, December 8, 2010. Available:
[7] “Spain Proposes International Anti-Piracy Tribunal,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide, December 9, 2010. Available:
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