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: Demonstrators rally across Yemen; Anwar al Awlaki issues audio statement in support of imprisoned journalist; Yemen Post reports AQAP deputy commander killed in explosives accident; U.S. lifts ban on freight flights from Yemen; interior ministry meets with Swedish ambassador to discuss counterterrorism cooperation
Horn of Africa: Mogadishu youth demonstrate against al Shabaab and TFG; gunmen kill TFG soldier; al Shabaab imposes regulations on schools in the Lower Shabelle region; UN envoy meets with TFG president, urges him to reconsider extension of parliamentary mandate; disabled TFG soldiers to receive monthly pension; Ahlu Sunna fighters release captured journalist on bail; Somali MP blames violence in Kalshale on Somaliland president; Mogadishu police present two captured teenage al Shabaab fighters to local media
Yemen Security Brief
- Demonstrators rallied across Yemen in separate protests spanning four days. In Aden and Zinjibar, dozens of Southern Movement supporters, including Tariq al Fadhli, participated in a “Day of Rage” calling for the end of the “occupation,” until army tanks and security forces dispersed the protests. Elsewhere, thousands of protestors, ignoring a ban on protests issued by the Interior Ministry, rallied outside Sana’a University and at Tahrir Square in Taiz governorate, calling for President Saleh to step down and expressing support for Egyptian President Mubarak’s decision to leave office. The protests occurred despite an announcement from opposition group the Joint Meeting Parties that they would suspend protests and engage in dialogue with the government. Plainclothes policemen and security personnel used riot batons and stun guns to break up protests in Tahrir Square and arrested multiple demonstrators.
- Radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al Awlaki released an audio statement entitled “A Message to the People of the Media” in which he expressed support for journalists who “expose America and its agents,” offering specific praise for Abdulelah Shaea, a Yemeni journalist sentenced to five years imprisonment for connections to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). President Saleh recently ordered that Shaea be released, but he remains in jail. Awlaki accused the Yemeni government of collaborating with the U.S., saying “the crime of the Yemeni government in cooperating with the Americans to bomb the people of Yemen should not be forgotten, and the honest people of the media should take the banner from [Abdulelah Shaea] and finish the journey that he started. Exposing that collusion must reach every home. The people of the media in the Islamic world should stop themselves from being tools used to carry out the plans of the American occupation.”
- The Yemen Post reported that AQAP deputy commander Said al Shihri, also known as Abu Sufyan, died after an IED he was preparing exploded prematurely. Shihri fought in Afghanistan during the 2001 U.S. invasion and was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for six years after which he was released to Saudi authorities and graduated from the Saudi jihadist rehab program.
- President Saleh chaired a joint meeting of the Council of Ministers and the general committee of the General People’s Congress in which he promised to initiate dialogue with opposition groups and discussed plans for implementing further reforms including modernization of the armed forces, wage increases for military, security, and government personnel, and pledged to limit unnecessary expenditure and corruption in the government.
- U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein told Yemeni Transport Minister Khalid al Wazeer that the U.S. has lifted the ban on freight flights from Yemen to the U.S., explaining that “the decision came under the recommendations of the U.S. technical team which visited Yemen to familiarize [itself] with air security measures at Yemen’s airports after the mail bombs that triggered the ban in October 2010.” The ban had been in place since October 2010 when AQAP operatives placed hidden explosives on board freight flights destined for the U.S. Feierstein also met with Yemeni Minister of Defense Naser Ahmed and discussed future cooperation between the U.S. and Yemen in securing Yemen’s airports and improving the scientific capabilities of Yemen’s military.
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that Yemeni Interior Minister Mutahr al Masri met with Swedish ambassador to Yemen Jan Thesleff to discuss future cooperation in the fields of security and counterterrorism.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Mogadishu youth demonstrated against both al Shabaab and the TFG, chanting slogans urging young Somalis to pursue peaceful reform. Jama’ Sa’id Qorsheel, a member of opposition group Somali Youth Movement, told Shabelle Media Network that the protestors were inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt. The protest occurred on a long street between the KM4 and Benadir junctions in Mogadishu, and security forces arrested at least seven protestors.
- Unidentified attackers killed a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldier in the Hamar Jabjab district of Mogadishu. Witnesses told Shabelle Media Network that assailants armed with pistols looted the dead soldier’s body before fleeing.
- Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdullah, al Shabaab’s chairman in the Lower Shabelle region, visited local schools and imposed a series of regulations mandating that girls and boys be separated, all students be released at 11:50am for noon prayer, and ordered all teachers to urge their pupils to take part in what he called the holy war in Mogadishu against TFG and AMISOM forces.
- Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Somalia, met with TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed at Villa Somalia in Mogadishu and urged him to reconsider the parliament’s decision to extend the government’s mandate by three years. In a statement released to the media, both President Sharif and Mahiga said the meeting was a success, but no plans to reverse the parliament’s decision have been announced.
- TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced that disabled and invalid TFG soldiers would receive a monthly pension of $100.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters released Shabelle Media Network journalist Abdikarim Ahmed Bulhan on bail one day after he was initially arrested when Ahlu Sunna militants raided Radio Abudwaq’s headquarters in the Abudwaq district of the Galgudud region.
- Ahlu Sunna spokesman Sharif Abdiwahid Sharif Aden told Shabelle Media Network that al Shabaab officials in the Gedo region have begun recruiting women and children into their militias.
- Somali MP Ibrahim Mohamed Dek told reporters that Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo is responsible for the recent outbreak of violence in the village of Kalshale, adding that the Somaliland armed forces erred when they invaded areas under control of militants from the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) administration.
- Abdullahi Hassan Barise, spokesman of the Mogadishu police, presented two captured teenage members of al Shabaab to local media. The young men confessed that they had participated in attacks on TFG forces in the Mogadishu district of Hamar Jabjab and claimed that they were willing to renounce their membership in al Shabaab. Barise also promised that the Mogadishu police would increase their campaign against al Shabaab in districts under TFG control.