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: Clapper testifies that al Qaeda affiliates growing in strength; Southern Movement fighters release two captured soldiers; U.S. State Department spokesman warns that budget cuts will hamper fight against AQAP; Yemeni minister of interior meets with Syrian ambassador to discuss security cooperation

Horn of Africa: Over 3,000 people displaced following clashes between Somaliland soldiers and tribal militia; al Shabaab fighters arrest seven accused drug users; TFG ministers to contribute to drought relief; al Shabaab spokesman confirms arrest of 150 people accused of damaging Islam; Somali political parties criticize extension of TFG parliament’s mandate; TFG PM asks soldiers to minimize civilian casualties

Yemen Security Brief

  • National Intelligence director James Clapper testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security that “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) efforts to employ known IED technologies in innovative ways, and their exhortations to followers to conduct small-scale attacks that can still have major impact, all suggest we face a complex defensive challenge.”  He added, “Deterioration of governance will present serious challenges to US and regional interests, including leaving AQAP better positioned to plan and carry out attacks, exacerbating ongoing civil unrest and worsening humanitarian and socio-economic problems.”[1]
  • Southern Movement militants released two Yemeni soldiers captured February 10 in a Habilain market after tribal leaders intervened on their behalf. Three more soldiers, abducted by Southern Movement fighters January 18 on the outskirts of Habilain, remain prisoners.[2]
  • U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley wrote on Twitter that although U.S. intelligence officials told the House of Representatives that AQAP represents the most serious threat to national security, “severe budget cuts to foreign aid contemplated by Congress will constrain our ability to help Yemen reduce this threat.”[3]
  • Yemeni Minister of Interior Mutahar al Masri met with Syrian ambassador to Yemen Abdul Ghafor Sabouni in Sana’a to discuss possibilities for future cooperation in the fields of security and counterterrorism.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Over 3,000 people have been displaced following February 7 clashes in the village of Kalshale between militias loyal to the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) administration and Somaliland soldiers. Local sources told IRIN that the fighting stemmed from disagreements over water and land, and a local journalist warned that many refugees may now be beyond the reach of aid agencies.[5]
  • Al Shabaab fighters in the Lower Shabelle region arrested seven people from Afgoi town on charges of using and distributing drugs. Locals told Shabelle Media Network that they expected that the accused would soon be punished.[6]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) spokesman Abdi Hajji Goobdoon told local media that TFG ministers have decided to donate $500 each from their monthly salaries, a figure equal to approximately five percent of each minister’s monthly wage, to drought relief for needy Somalis.[7]
  • Sheikh Abdulghani Abu Yahi, al Shabaab’s deputy governor in the Lower Shabelle region, spoke to local media and confirmed that al Shabaab fighters took 150 people into custody in the Lower Shabelle region on suspicion of being clerics of takfir, apostasy.[8]
  • A coalition of Somali political parties including the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, the Somali National Party, the Alliance for the Salvation of Somalia and the Somali Democratic and Patriotic Movement issued a statement condemning the TFG parliament’s decision to extend its own mandate by three years and urged “all patriotic and decent Somalis to reject and protest this new conspiracy aimed at extending the term of failed entities in any form or shape.”[9]
  • Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, speaking during a visit to a TFG army base, reminded soldiers of their role as protectors of the Somali people and asked them to exercise greater caution and avoid civilian casualties.[10]


[1] James R. Clapper, “Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community,” House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, February 10, 2011. Available:
[2] “Two Abducted Yemeni Soldiers Freed, Three Still Held,” AFP, February 11, 2011. Available:
[3] Philip J. Crowley, Twitter, February 11, 2011. Available:
[4] “Yemen, Syria Discuss Security Cooperation,” Saba News, February 10, 2011. Available:
[5] “Somaliland Clashes Displace Thousands,” IRIN News, February 10, 2011. Available:
[6] “Al Shabaab Takes 7 People into Custody,” Shabelle Media Network, February 11, 2011. Available:
[7] “Somali Cabinet Say Will Aid Poor Somalis by Paying Their Pensions,” Shabelle Media Network, February 11, 2011. Available:
[8] “Al Shabaab Talks about People Apprehended,” Shabelle Media Network, February 11, 2011. Available:
[9] “Statement by Somali Political Organizations,” Suna Times, February 10, 2011. Available:
[10] “Somali PM Calls for Somali Forces not to Harm Civilians,” Shabelle Media Network, February 11, 2011. Available:
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