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: President Saleh says neither he nor his son will seek office in 2013, promises electoral reforms; Saleh announces that armed forces and security personnel will have free access to gas and food; AQAP releases video on capture and execution of Yemeni security officer; journalist convicted of having ties to AQAP released; fighting between tribes kills two people; small group of students protest at Sana’a University; Yemeni minister accuses al Qaeda of slandering Islam
Horn of Africa: IGAD report calls for extension of TFG mandate; explosions and gunfire leave five people dead in Mogadishu; al Shabaab promises to revenge civilians killed by TFG soldiers in accidental shooting; Central Bank of Somalia reopens; Puntland security forces arrest over fifteen people; new political party formed; foreign security firm to begin providing security at Mogadishu airport; unidentified body found in Mogadishu; TFG minister demands that interior and defense ministers be punished following accidental shooting of civilians
Yemen Security Brief
- President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that he will not seek reelection in 2013, nor will his son take office after his departure, at a joint session of the Shura council and the parliament, “No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock,” Saleh said. He also announced the postponement of the scheduled April 27 parliamentary elections to update the voter registry system, the freezing of constitutional amendments to the electoral process, and the overall reform of the electoral process. Saleh requested that the planned protests be canceled in light of these concessions. Opposition leaders plan to follow through with scheduled February 3 protests, which has been termed a “Day of Rage.” Speaking to the AFP, Tareq al Shami, spokesman of the ruling General People Congress (GPC) party, promised that supporters of the ruling party would demonstrate on February 2 to “protect the people from the deception” of opposition groups.
- State-run news source 26sep.net, citing unnamed sources, reported that President Saleh has ordered that all military and security personnel will receive food and gas free of charge.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a 17-minute video through its media arm, al Malahem Foundation, highlighting the capture and execution of Muhammad Salah al Hussam, the Deputy Director of Political Security in Sa’ada, who was abducted by AQAP militants on August 26, 2011. The film is the second production in AQAP’s series, “Death of the Traitors,” and includes an interrogation of Hussam in which he confesses to spying on and torturing suspects. The film’s narrator says that although AQAP offered to exchange Hussam for suspects held by the Yemeni government, the offer was refused and Hussam received the “just punishment.”
- President Saleh ordered the release of journalist and al Qaeda expert Abdulelah Shaea, one month after his conviction on charges of aiding AQAP. Shaea had been sentenced to five years imprisonment.
- Fighting between the al Rahowi and al Fith tribes left two al Fith tribesmen dead. Sources told the Yemen post that the al Rahowi tribe had attacked the al Fith in retaliation for a January 29 assassination attempt on Ahmed Ghaleb al Rahowi, a security official in Abyan governorate.
- A small group of students protested at Sana’a University, rejecting President Saleh’s recent educational reforms and calling for him to step down. The demonstrations follow President Saleh’s January 31 announcements that Yemeni students at public universities would not have to pay tuition for the current academic year and that the government would create a special fund to create jobs for university graduates.
- Yemeni Endowments and Guidance Minister Hamoud al Hettar accused al Qaeda of having “smeared Islam’s real message” and “harmed Islam and Muslims worldwide,” pointing out that both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri have no formal shari’a training but use it “to progress their political ambition[s],” before concluding that “Yemeni tribes are against extremism and terrorism and will never offer any cover for Qaeda’s operations.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) issued a communiqué summarizing the conclusions reached at the 17th Extra-Ordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Sudan, Somalia and Kenya. The statement said that the mandate for the transitional government ought to be extended. Regarding UNSC Resolution 1964, which extended the AMISOM mandate and increased the number of permitted troops, IGAD wrote that it "regrets that this resolution has only partially addressed the request submitted to the Council by the AUC on the increase in AMISOM's authorised strength from 8000 to 20,000, authorisation of an enhanced support package for the Mission from UN assessed contribution, imposition of a naval blockade and a no-fly zone over Somalia and effective implementation of sanction on the spoilers."
- Multiple explosions and gunfire in Mogadishu killed five people. Somali police spokesman Col. Hassan Barise attributed the violence to al Shabaab militants, saying that a roadside bomb in an unspecified area of the city killed two police officers and one civilian while a separate bomb near Benadir Hospital killed two civilians. Shabelle Media Network reported that al Shabaab fighters and TFG and AMISOM forces clashed in the districts of Hodan, Hawl Wadag and Bondhere, leaving one civilian dead.
- Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage held a press conference in Mogadishu, promising that al Shabaab would “revenge for the innocent civilians” killed by TFG forces in an accidental shooting January 31. Rage also said that “people in the government area should give express collaboration” to al Shabaab fighters.
- TFG deputy Prime Minister Abirahman Haji Aden presided as the Central Bank of Somalia opened its doors for the first time since 1991. Speaking to reporters at Mogadishu International Airport, Aden praised the efforts of the TFG reconstruction effort and expressed hope that the reopening of the bank would allow international aid to reach Somalia directly rather than through international intermediaries.
- Adam Nur Qaal, a Puntland security officer in the Mudug region, reported that Puntland police arrested more than 15 people in Galkayo, the regional capital of the Mudug region, in connection with the January 25 assassination of Abdikadir Jama, head prosecutor of the Mudug region in Puntland.
- Several TFG MPs and legislators announced the formation of a new political party, the Somali Anti-Corruption and Democracy Initiative (SACDI), focusing on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiency in the government. MP Abdi Hashi Abdullahi spoke at the ceremony and hailed the creation of the party as “appropriate and useful for Somalia.”
- Martin Bill, an official with Dubai-based security firm SKA Air and Logistics, spoke to reporters at Mogadishu International Airport and announced that SKA will soon begin providing security and passenger and luggage screening services at the airport following TFG parliamentary approval of a ten year contract between SKA and the Somali government.
- The body of an unidentified man was found in the Hamar Weyne district of Mogadishu. Mareeg Online reports that the man was strangled, although there are conflict sources regarding the man’s nationality.
- Somali deputy minister of sports and labor Abdirasheed Mohammed Hidig urged the TFG to punish the defense and interior ministers after TFG soldiers killed over a dozen civilians in Mogadishu on January 31, calling the incident “unacceptable.”