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 claims successful testing of new “anti-detectable” explosive; former prominent opposition leader and prime minister mediated Saudi-Houthi truce; the six ceasefire terms are being carried out well; al Houthi rebels withdraw from Saudi border; Southern Movement to launch intifada
Horn of Africa: Islamic militants battle over border town; TFG claims it foiled attacks on the government; two civilians die in confrontation with government soldiers; UN claims U.S. humanitarian policy in Somalia is “impossible”
Yemen Security Brief
- In the release of AQAP’s 12th issue of its online magazine, Echo of the Epics, the group claims it has successfully tested a new “anti-detectable” explosive which would advance its efforts in the war against the West. The group stated the explosive’s “capacity (to kill high-profile officials and destroy airplanes) is far greater than plastic explosives such as (PETN) and (RDX) and other high explosive devices.” However, counter-terrorism experts rejected the group’s announcement, citing it as mere propaganda.
- Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Yemen and prominent southern opposition leader Hidar Abu Bakr al Attas reportedly mediated the truce between Saudi Arabia and the al Houthi rebels. Sources indicate the truce occurred in Germany between a Saudi ambassador and Yahya al Houthi, brother of the late rebel leader Sheikh Hussein Badr al Din al Houthi.
- Abdul Malik al Makhlafi, a member of the national committee supervising the implementation of the ceasefire terms, stated that the ceasefire terms have generally been followed and that the government would keep original timetable. In addition to the reopening of main roads in Sa’ada there was talk of clearing out farms with landmines.
- Al Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam reported that the al Houthi rebels have withdrawn from Manazla front in Malahaidh. In addition, thirty road blocks have been removed from the Sana’a-Sa’ada road, which would now permit the movement of government troops along the road.
- Tariq al Fadhli, a leader of the Southern Movement, declared that residents of southern Yemen would launch an intifada on February 20 with the goal of southern independence. He has called for the “next phase – demonstrations and protests, civil disobedience and an uprising of stones.” Fadhli also stated that the Southern Movement did “not want to resort to arms, or the use of violence, in any form.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Fighting between the Islamic militant groups, al Shabaab and Hizb al Islam, erupted in the border town of Dhobley. Reportedly, fighting began when Hizb al Islam attacked al Shabaab’s forces. Al Shabaab remains in control the town. The fighting left at least five dead and several wounded.
- TFG forces claim they have thwarted scheduled attacks against government officials and parliament members. The Minister of Jobs, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, known as Mareye, stated the government suspended a workshop organized by an unregistered agency and that later, an explosion occurred outside of the hotel that was to host the workshop. The government indicated the attack targeted the State Minister for Defense.
- At least two civilians were killed at the Afgoi checkpoint in southern Mogadishu after government soldiers tried robbing people in public traffic. The attempted robbery prompted other soldiers’ involvement. The ensuing fight left two civilians dead and one injured.
- A UN envoy claims the U.S. has imposed impossible conditions on humanitarian aid agencies distributing food to the Somali population. The conditions set by the U.S. are an attempt to prevent its aid from going to militant Islamist groups such as al Shabaab; however, the effect has been a politicization of aid.