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: Protests continue in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz; opposition leader says that JMP will not engage in dialogue; AQAP releases 16th issue of its Arabic-language magazine; security official denies reports of AQAP deputy leader’s death; Yemeni officials meet with U.S. ambassador to discuss counterterrorism partnership; UK official urges Yemeni government to allow peaceful protests
Horn of Africa: Eight people killed in clashes between al Shabaab militants and Shabelle Valley fighters; al Shabaab appoints new head of Banadir region; Puntland and Galmudug officials discuss threats to security; TFG police seize hand grenades during searches in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Protests continued in Sana’a, Aden and Taiz as several thousand people demonstrated against the government. In Sana’a, a student protest against the administration of Sana’a University turned into a wider anti-government rally. Demonstrators clashed with pro-government supporters until police fired into the air to disperse the crowds. Elsewhere in Sana’a, journalists protested outside their union rallying against what they described as targeted attacks on reporters. The Yemen Post reported that over 2,500 people have gathered in the Osaifra district of Taiz and are refusing to leave until President Saleh is ousted. Abdul Malik al Houthi released a statement encouraging further protest, saying, “Yemenis should take advantage of this opportunity and create serious mobilization...which will be responsible for changing the reality and removing this criminal government.”
- Yaseen Saeed No’man, an official within opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), told the Yemen Observer that the JMP has reversed its decision to engage in political dialogue, only a day after initially agreeing to President Saleh’s terms. Noman said, “We view it as an attempt to rescue the regime and not the nation. There is a deep national and political crisis produced by this regime. We should not have a dialogue outside this crisis. We should talk about changing the political and social regime.”
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the 16th issue of its Arabic-language magazine, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics), on jihadist forums on February 15. The issue includes commentary on WikiLeaks, anti al Houthi propaganda, translated versions of articles discussing the October 2010 parcel bomb plot originally published in AQAP’s English-language magazine Inspire, and a letter from the editor to the people of Tunisia encouraging the establishment of an Islamic government.
- Brigadier General Abdul Razaq al Maruni, security director of Abyan governorate, denied reports that AQAP deputy leader Said al Shihri, also known as Abu Sufyan, died in a February 9 explosives accident, saying that reports of his death were likely intended to confuse security forces.
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that Yemeni Interior Minister Mutahar al Masri and Chief of General Staff Ahmed al Shwal met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein in Sana’a. The two parties agreed to expand strategic cooperation between their countries, particularly in the fields of counterterrorism and security.
- UK minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt issued a statement requesting that the Yemeni government “respect the people’s right to peaceful protest and listen to their legitimate grievances,” adding that “all Yemenis have a right to express their views in a peaceful and open manner and I am extremely concerned by reports of increasing violence and the excessive use of force by security forces.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Mohammed Nur, information minister of the Shabelle Valley administration, told Shabelle Media Network that Shabelle Valley fighters had killed at least six al Shabaab militants in fighting outside the village of Deefow in the Hiraan region, adding that two Shabelle Valley fighters were also killed.
- Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Omar Aburahman replaced Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Sheikh Ali Dhere, as al Shabaab’s chairperson of the Banadir region. Rage told reporters at a news conference that he was happy with the decision and urged al Shabaab fighters in the region to continue their offensive against Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces.
- Galmudug Vice President Abdisalan Noor Gulled met with Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole to discuss growing instability in areas under the control of the two administrations.
- Abdullahi Hassan Barise, spokesman of TFG police in Mogadishu, announced that policemen had seized at least five hand grenades during searches conducted in the Hamar Jabjab district of Mogadishu, adding that the grenades likely belonged to al Shabaab fighters.