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: U.S. plans $75 million dollar boost to Yemeni counterterrorism forces; security forces violently disperse protests; four men accused of spying for Iran and supporting al Houthis; Saleh meets with local leaders in Amran governorate; Saleh telephones Emir of Qatar to discuss bilateral relations; minister dismisses reports that proposed legislation would legalize wiretaps
Horn of Africa: Fighting in Mogadishu leaves at least seven people dead; TFG soldiers kill four people during anti-al Shabaab protest; al Shabaab militants arrest eight religious students; al Shabaab official claims that TFG is lying about providing welfare to soldiers; President Sharif asks the international community for help; Mogadishu hospital reopens; Human Rights Watch calls for inquiry into war crimes in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- A U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the U.S. plans to contribute $75 million towards doubling the size of one of Yemen’s elite counterterrorism units, which currently has an estimated 300 operatives. This aid is in addition to $120 million earmarked for Yemen in President Obama’s 2012 budget.
- Yemeni security forces in Sana’a, Taiz and Aden used tear gas, electric stun guns and riot batons to disperse anti-government protestors after clashes between opposition supporters and government loyalists turned violent. The Yemen Post reported that at least 25 demonstrators were injured and estimated that police arrested ten people. The protests in Sana’a were smaller in size than previous rallies, but were held without the approval of opposition political parties and demonstrators behaved with a previously unseen level of aggression. The BBC claimed that two of its employees were beaten by security forces, and Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, alleged that Yemeni police acted violently “without provocation.”
- A Sana’a court accused four men of spying for Iran between 1994 and 2009 and providing weapons and aid to the al Houthi insurrection. Yemeni prosecutors presented evidence including computers, photos, cell phones, check books and weapons that had allegedly been discovered in the homes of the defendants.
- President Saleh met with local council members and leaders in the districts of Kharef, Theibin, Bani Suraim and Khamer in Amran governorate and stressed to them that maintaining peace and security is a collective responsibility. President Saleh’s personal website reported that many of the officials present “reiterated their commitment to stand in the way of all preachers of sedition, sabotage and chaos.”
- President Saleh telephoned Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and discussed bilateral relations including Qatar’s role in mediating the ceasefire between the Yemeni government and al Houthi fighters.
- Yemeni Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Kamal al Jabri denied media reports that legislation proposed by his ministry would allow the Yemeni government to tape the phone conversations of private citizens, telling SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, that the law “aims to activate the role of this sector in economic and social development.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants clashed with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters and AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers in Mogadishu, leaving at least seven people dead. The fighting was concentrated in the area around Makka al Mukarama Road, but stray mortar shells landed throughout the city. Ahlu Sunna official Yonis Ali told reporters that “the fighting today was very heavy and we inflicted losses on the enemy,” adding that several al Shabaab fighters were captured. The clashes occurred after Defense Minister Abdulhakim Hajji Fiki claimed that TFG and AMISOM forces had launched an offensive to “eliminate them [al Shabaab] from the country.”
- TFG soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians protesting against al Shabaab in the district of Hamar Weyne, killing four people. Warsameh Jodah, the deputy TFG mayor of Mogadishu, said that his administration had organized the rally to encourage peace, lamenting that “the men and women who gathered there wanted peace to be realized in Somalia. They wanted the fire to cease. But government soldiers have turned the rally into a mourning.” Ahmed Diriye, spokesman of the local elders, condemned the shooting and called on the government to punish the soldiers responsible and compensate the families of the victims.
- Al Shabaab militants in the Berdale district of the Bay region raided the house of local cleric Sheikh Mohamed Roble and arrested eight of his students, accusing the group of planning to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohamed, a practice banned by al Shabaab leaders.
- Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab, al Shabaab's military spokesman, accused TFG PM Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of making false promises of welfare and regular payment to Somali soldiers, claiming that the TFG is a government composed of foreign officials who have failed to deliver on previous guarantees, notably their pledge to drive al Shabaab out of Mogadishu.
- TFG President Sharif spoke to reporters at Villa Somalia and asked the international community for help in the fight against al Shabaab and other militant groups within Somalia, pointing out that piracy and conflict in the Horn of Africa contribute to instability in the entire region.
- TFG Minister of Health Affairs Dr. Adam Haji Ibrahim announced that Martini Hospital in Mogadishu would begin providing health care to the public for the first time since it was shut down in 1991 following the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime.
- Rona Peligal, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, called for the formation of an international commission to investigate war crimes in Somalia, saying that “the world has for too long ignored the appalling cost to civilians of the fighting in Mogadishu.” Peligal accused all sides involved of having committed atrocities, but specifically noted that al Shabaab militants have carried out targeted killings, recruited child soldiers, and denied aid to needy civilians in areas under their control.