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: Two protestors killed as riots turn violent in Aden, protests continue in Sana’a and Taiz; 2,000 additional security personnel deployed across Yemen; AQAP ambush kills one soldier; AQAP gunmen assassinate security official; AQAP publishes list of attacks, asserts it is the only defender of Sunni Islam; Saleh thanks government and local officials for support against a “planned coup”; tribal leader plans to meet with Saleh to secure journalist’s release; official warns of further unrest in the Arab world; Saleh speaks with leaders of Bahrain, Libya, and Jordan; minister says that U.S. and Yemen should expand partnership further; Yemeni and British officials meet to discuss boosting capabilities of Yemeni coastguard; government source condemns inaccurate reporting of unrest in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Somaliland troops capture 250 ONLF fighters; bandits rob travelers on bus; five people arrested in connection with fatal shooting at anti-al Shabaab demonstration; Ahlu Sunna and UN officials meet to discuss security and humanitarian issues; Dutch police agree to extradite suspected al Shabaab financier to the U.S.
Yemen Security Brief
- The Yemen Post reported that hundreds of people have laid siege to police headquarters in the Mansura district of Aden after police killed at least two people and injured at least ten others during protests calling for President Saleh to step down and allow southern Yemen to secede from the rest of the country. CNN reported that one of those killed was an eighteen-year-old student. The Yemen Post also reported that hundreds of demonstrators have set up tents in the Osaifra district of Taiz, and clashes between students and government supporters continued in Sana’a. President Saleh’s personal website reported that Saleh ordered an investigation into the cause of the riots.
- The Yemen Post reported that 2,000 security personnel, including plainclothes officers, have been deployed across Yemen to clamp down on continued protests against the government. Eyewitnesses reported that the security presence is particularly strong in Sana’a.
- Xinhua reported that suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters on motorcycles ambushed a military vehicle traveling along a highway in Abyan governorate, killing one soldier.
- Militants believed to be connected to AQAP assassinated Colonel Mohamed al Ezzy, a regional deputy director in the Political Security Agency, as he drove through the city of Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate.
- AQAP released a list of operations and attacks carried out by its operatives between November 3, 2010 and January 8, 2011, in the 16th issue of its Arabic-language magazine, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics). 19 attacks are recorded, most of which occurred in Abyan governorate. The magazine also included an article entitled “Pauses with the Two Operations of al Jawf and Sa’ada,” in which AQAP claimed credit for suicide attacks on al Houthis, and reminded Sunni Muslims that “if America and some European countries are protecting the interests of the Jews and the Christians and are defending them, and Iran is protecting the interests of the Shi’ites and defending them, al Qaeda Organization is the strong back of the Sunnis and the only power that is defending them and their interests.”
- President Saleh’s personal website reported that Saleh presided over a meeting of Parliament, the Shura Council and local leaders from Hajjah governorate and thanked those assembled for their efforts in resisting “the planned coup against constitutional legitimacy,” adding that opposition groups should use the “ballot boxes” rather than “chaos, wrong mobilization and irresponsible utterance via media” to convey their dissatisfaction. SABA News, Yemen’s new agency, reported that the Parliament had been assembled to discuss “outlaw phenomena disturbing security and stability in some areas.”
- The Yemen Times reported that prominent tribal leader Sheikh Hamood al Zarrehi will meet with President Saleh to try and secure the release of Abdulelah Shaea, a Yemeni journalist sentenced to five years imprisonment for connections to AQAP. President Saleh earlier promised to release Shaea, but he remains in confinement after U.S. President Obama telephoned Saleh and expressed concern about the possibility of Shaea’s release. Zarrehi told the Yemen Times, “The U.S. played a role in restricting Shaye’s release. We don’t want them to dominate the president’s decisions because we are an independent country.”
- Yemen’s ambassador to Egypt Wali al Shamir warned that further unrest in the Arab world was very likely, telling reporters, “I am confident the change stream will quickly sweep through Arab countries because the people are ready for revolution and change.”
- President Saleh spoke to King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifah of Bahrain and reassured him that the Yemeni government supported his regime. Saleh’s personal website reported that Saleh also warned Khalifah that those who commit acts of “disorder and vandalism” are “simply implementing suspicious foreign agendas.” Saleh had similar conversations with Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi and King Abdullah II of Jordan the following day.
- Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defense Affairs and Minister of Local Administration Rashad al Alimi told SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, that the U.S. and Yemen need to expand cooperation in the fields of development, finance, and security.
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that Yemeni Interior Minister Mutahar al Masri and British ambassador to Yemen Jonathan Wilks met in Sana’a and discussed plans to boost the counterterrorism capabilities of Yemen’s coastguard.
- An unnamed government official told SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, that he was surprised that some media outlets had reported what SABA News described as “false, misleading and biased information” surrounding recent unrest in Yemen. The official warned that publishing these reports only encourages further violence and instability.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somaliland General Elmi Robleh Furrur and police Commissioner Nouh Ismail Taani told reporters at a press conference that Somaliland forces arrested close to 250 men suspected of being Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels who had attempted to pass through the Maar-Maar Mountains in Somaliland, en route to Ethiopia. Furrur and Tani also exhibited weapons, including 62 RPGs, that were seized from the fighters and accused the Eritrean government of training and supplying the ONLF militants.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that armed bandits robbed a bus carrying travelers in the al Shabaab controlled district of Wanlaweyn, injuring at least two people.
- TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Defense Minister Abdulhakim Hajji Fiki jointly announced at a press conference that five people, including former Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Dhere, have been arrested in connection with a recent shooting that killed four demonstrators during an anti-al Shabaab protest.
- Ali Baashi Ali Diriye, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a commissioner of the Guriel district in the Galgudud region, confirmed that Ahlu Sunna officials met with “a top UN delegation” to discuss security and humanitarian issues, concluding that the two sides “agreed upon all we have discussed together.”
- The Dutch Supreme Court agreed to extradite Mahamud Said Omar to the U.S. to stand trial on charges of providing financial support for a group of young men to travel from Minneapolis to Somalia in hopes of joining al Shabaab.