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: AQAP spiritual leader Ibrahim al Rubaish releases statement to Saudi cleric Suleiman bin Nasser al ‘Alwan; tribal mediators announce success in ending military campaign in al Bayda governorate; aid groups deploy to Walad Rab’ia to help those displaced from military operation; U.S. ambassador to Yemen says that U.S. takes accusations of Iranian interference in Yemen seriously and supports inclusion of al Houthis, exclusion of al Zindani in National Dialogue; U.S. State Department releases statement encouraging UN Sanctions Committee to investigate Iranian weapons smuggling to Yemen; UN Security Council says al Shabaab receiving weapons via Somali networks in Yemen; Ansar al Sharia clashes with popular committee forces in Zinjibar, Abyan governorate; President Hadi ratifies agreement with Turkish government abolishing entry visa requirements for Yemeni-Turkey travel; Yemeni military forms specialized teams to manage military restructuring; Technical Committee announces lists of representatives for National Dialogue due February 13; BBC correspondent claims that elements of former regime facilitated Iranian weapons smuggling into Yemen; thousands demonstrate in Taiz; oil pipeline in Ma’rib governorate blown up; gunmen aligned with former al Jawf governor clash with soldiers on Sana’a–al Hudaydah road; director-general of Mukayras district, al Bayda governorate escapes assassination attempt
Horn of Africa: Bomb-laden car hits vehicle carrying Puntland Deputy Police Chief in Galkayo, Mudug region; explosion targets military personnel in Kismayo, Lower Jubba; unknown gunmen shoot and kill Somali security officer in Shibis district, Mogadishu; grenade attack targets the home of a Somali minister of parliament in Mogadishu; Ethiopian border guards shoot Somaliland police near Wajaale, Woqooyi Galbeed region; Somaliland president travels to London, England; security meeting held in Boosaaso, Bari region; Burundian ministers arrive in Mogadishu; AMISOM civilian representatives meet with political and civil representatives in Baidoa, Beledweyne, and Kismayo
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) spiritual leader Ibrahim al Rubaish published a message addressed to Saudi cleric Suleiman bin Nasser al ‘Alwan through AQAP’s media arm, al Malahem Foundation, over a jihadist forum on February 7. In the message, dated December 16, 2012, al Rubaish praised al ‘Alwan and asked him to guard the image of the “mujahideen” against what he claims are media distortions.
- The committee mediating between Yemeni government forces and Ansar al Sharia militants in al Bayda governorate announced that it had succeeded in negotiating an agreement to end the military campaign in the governorate and rid the region of al Qaeda fighters on February 11. It was reported that Sheikh Abdul Raoof al Dhahab, al Bayda governor al Thaheri al Shaddadi, and Major General Mohammad al Maqdashi met with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Sana’a on February 8.
- International and local aid groups, including the International Red Cross, deployed to Walad Rabi'a governorate in the wake of the al Bayda military campaign to help assist those displaced in the operation.
- U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein said that the U.S. takes Yemeni accusations of Iranian interference seriously, particularly in the case of the weapons smuggling ship interdicted on January 23, in a February 10 press conference with U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Rashad Hussein. He also stressed the importance of political participation of the al Houthi movement, and said that the U.S. does not support Sheikh Abdul Majid al Zindani’s participation in the National Dialogue.
- The U.S. Department of State released a statement commending the Yemeni government on their investigation of the January 23 weapons smuggling ship incident, and encouraging the UN Sanctions Committee to further investigate the issue.
- UN Security Council monitors stated that al Shabaab is receiving weapons via Puntland and Somaliland regions, which in turn receive weapons through supply networks of Somali immigrants in Yemen, according to a February 10 Reuters report. The UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran is also investigating evidence of an Iranian link to these networks.
- Ansar al Sharia forces clashed with popular committee forces in Zinjibar city, Abyan on February 11, with the intention of gaining control of Shaqra. It was reported that the militant forces infiltrated by boat off the Abyan coast between Shaqra and Zinjibar.
- President Hadi ratified an agreement with the government of Turkey abolishing entry visa requirements for Yemenis entering Turkey and vice versa on February 10.
- Yemeni military commanders announced the formation of special teams staffed with officers from the Yemeni Supreme Military Academy and Ministry of Defense, charged with leading restructuring efforts, with a focus on modernizing Yemeni training and doctrine on February 10. The teams are led by Secretary of Military Affairs Brigadier General Nasser Ali al Harbi.
- The Technical Committee to prepare for the National Dialogue announced that February 13 will be the last day for Yemeni political groups to submit lists of their representatives for the March 18 National Dialogue Conference. It also announced that the committee is in the process of selecting independent representatives to the dialogue from youth, civil society and women’s groups.
- BBC Correspondent Abdullah Ghorab claimed that a senior Yemeni security official had shown him documents from the Yemeni Defense and Interior Ministries indicating that individuals affiliated with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime have facilitated the transfer of weapons from Iran to Yemen, in a press conference on February 9.
- Thousands demonstrated in Taiz to commemorate the second anniversary of the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
- Gunmen blew up an oil pipeline in Wadi Abeidah, Ma’rib governorate on February 10, one day after the pipeline had been repaired.
- The son of Yahya Mohammed Ghobar, former Governor of al Jawf governorate, and his companions opened fire on soldiers at a Rescue Police checkpoint near Camp al Manar, al Haymah al Kharijiya district, on the Sana’a-al Hudaydah road on February 11. Two soldiers were seriously wounded. In response, Brigadier General Mohammed Ali Abdul Haq, commander of al Manar, threatened to bombard Ghobar’s village.
- The Director General of Mukayras district Mohammad Abdo Rabbu Jihlan escaped an assassination attempt on February 10 in Mukayras, al Bayda governorate, after a remote-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near his car, injuring two of his associates, Colonel Nasser Ahmed al Ja’imlani and Mohammad Ahmad al Saluli. Two suspects in the bombing were detained soon after the incident, along with a car filled with explosives and artillery shells.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A car packed with explosives hit another vehicle carrying the Puntland Deputy Police Chief in Galkayo, Mudug region on February 11. Deputy Police Chief Muyadin Ahmed Muse was injured in the attack. Casualty reports conflict, with the death toll reaching as high as ten. Three security guards are confirmed injured but more civilians are also reportedly injured. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, saying that the bombing killed six Puntland officers and injured nine other people.
- An explosion targeted a military convoy in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on February 9. One soldier in the vehicle and one civilian were killed in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Somali security officer in Shibis district, Mogadishu on February 10. The gunmen were able to flee the scene and no one has claimed responsibility for the shooting.
- A grenade was thrown at the home of Member of the Somali Parliament Abdiwali Ibrahim Modey in Mogadishu on February 10. Modey said no one was injured in the attack.
- Ethiopian border guards shot Somaliland policemen who were traveling in a vehicle and unknowingly crossed into Ethiopia near Wajaale, Woqooyi Galbeed region on February 9. The Ethiopian guards believed the Somaliland policemen to be smuggling goods into Ethiopia. Two Somaliland police officers were injured.
- Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud traveled to London, England on February 9 to meet with high level-British officials.
- Local leaders met in Boosaaso, Bari region on February 10 to discuss ways to strengthen the security apparatus in the city.
- A delegation of Burundian parliamentarians arrived in Mogadishu on February 10 to meet with Somali counterparts and discuss cooperation between the two legislative bodies.
- AMISOM representatives from its political, civil affairs and gender units traveled to Baidoa, Bay region; Beledweyne, Hiraan region; and Kismayo, Lower Jubba region to meet with Somali political, civil and female rights leaders.