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: Electoral officials claim voter turnout upwards of 60 percent; UN envoy to Yemen discusses Yemen’s difficult future; Paris-based human rights group urges U.S. to prosecute Saleh
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab withdraws from several towns in Bay and Bakool regions, including Baidoa, Bay’s capital; 22 children seized while undergoing weapons training in Mogadishu mosque and 20 al Shabaab suspects arrested
Yemen Security Brief
- Vote counting is underway in Yemen. Electoral officials claimed that voter turnout reached 60 percent nationwide. In the country’s south, officials reported a turnout of 50 percent in Aden and as low as 30 to 40 percent in other governorates. More than 10 million Yemenis were eligible to vote in the presidential election. Results are expected within two days.
- UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar warned that Yemen faces a difficult process ahead: “This is the beginning of a difficult and thorny road, but there is hope.” He added that Yemen faces “many dangers -- a lack of confidence among political parties over the political plan, a deteriorating security situation, the state's absence in several regions and the dangerous humanitarian situation.”
- The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is pressing the U.S. to prosecute former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In a statement released late on February 21, FIDH said, “The United States has an obligation to investigate the serious and credible allegations of torture and other widespread violations brought against Saleh.” Last month, Yemeni parliament passed a law that grants Saleh immunity from prosecution.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops captured al Shabaab’s base in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region. Al Shabaab confirmed that they had withdrawn, but expressed their determination to fight on through guerrilla warfare. In the face of the Ethiopian and TFG offensive, on February 21 al Shabaab also withdrew from the towns of Yurkud, Garas Amerika, Bohol Bashir, Kurtele, and Qansax Omane, which are located in Bay and Bakool regions. On their way to Berdale in Bay region, Ethiopian and TFG troops were ambushed; in the ensuing fight, at least six al Shabaab fighters were killed, eight wounded, and five captured. Fighting is now ongoing in Berdale. The head of TFG forces, General Abdikadir Sheikh Ali Dini, said in a press conference that his forces, alongside Ethiopians, expected to capture Bay and Bakool regions this week, as well as the remainder of Gedo region.
- On February 21, TFG forces arrested 22 children who were learning to use weapons, including AK-47s and grenades, in Dabaqeyn Mosque in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district. A TFG military official announced that the teacher had escaped, and that the children would not be jailed, as they were under age, but would be held under police custody “until they can return back to their normal life.” In another operation, 20 al Shabaab suspects were arrested by TFG forces in Wardhigley and Daynile districts.