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: Tens of thousands of protestors demonstrate across Yemen; Saleh creates committee to engage in dialogue with demonstrators; Saleh chairs meeting on success of reforms; police ordered to investigate all claims from protestors regardless of political affiliation; VP stresses importance of military and security forces; Minister of Tourism suggests reforms
Horn of Africa: AMISOM and TFG soldiers continue offensive in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna, Ethiopian and TFG forces attack al Shabaab fighters in Beled Hawo; Kenyan woman killed at border checkpoint; Shabelle Valley Administration claims victory over al Shabaab in Beledweyne; TFG President rejects extension of parliamentary mandate; Puntland security forces arrest three people; TFG police detain five Mogadishu residents; former Hizb al Islam official appointed general in TFG army; Mogadishu residents demonstrate against al Shabaab; American sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to join al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Thousands of anti-government protestors gathered at Sana’a University, and a similar number of pro-Saleh supporters assembled at Tahrir Square. Security forces were present at both rallies and prevented any outbreak of violence. The Yemen Post reported that hundreds of women joined protestors at Sana’a University. The Southern Movement held rallies across the south of Yemen, including in Aden, Abyan, Lahij and Hadramawt governorates. Thousands of people demonstrated against the regime in Taiz and Ibb governorates, and security forces prevented a small group of protestors from gathering in Hudaydah governorate.
- President Saleh’s personal website reported that Saleh authorized the formation of a five-member committee tasked with having “a constructive and open dialogue with the young brothers, including protestors…and to listen to their conditions and visions.” The committee will focus on protestors in Sana’a, Taiz and Aden.
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that Saleh presided over an expanded meeting of government officials and discussed the success of reforms implemented thus far. Those in attendance urged that more jobs be created for recent university graduates, cautioned that the current unrest in Yemen may destabilize the national economy, and recommended sending emergency medical teams to Hudaydah governorate to respond to an outbreak of disease.
- Yemeni General Prosecutor Abdullah al Olefi ordered all chairmen and attorneys general to rapidly investigate all complaints lodged by civilians, regardless of any political affiliation. Olefi emphasized the importance of protecting all protestors and appealed to demonstrators to behave within the law.
- SABA News reported that Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi met with political leaders and security officials in Lahij and Abyan governorates and stressed that the military and the security forces are responsible for keeping Yemen safe. Hadi noted that President Saleh has offered significant reforms to demonstrators and warned that agitators may try to incite violence.
- Yemeni Minister of Tourism Nabil al Fakeh proposed a series of reforms he claimed could alleviate the current unrest. Fakeh asked President Saleh to hold presidential elections before the end of the year, separate the National Security and Political Security councils, try all cases pending before the justice system, and punish all corrupt government officials.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM soldiers continued their offensive against al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu. TFG military officials told Shabelle Media Network that government forces had seized territory in the Wardhigley and Hawl Wadag districts. Burundi Army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza issued a statement acknowledging that six AMISOM soldiers were killed and twelve others wounded during the fighting. Ali Muse, head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, told the Associated Press that at least 39 civilians have been killed in Mogadishu during the offensive and Shabelle Media Network reported that a further five civilians were killed in today’s fighting.
- Al Shabaab fighters clashed with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militants and TFG and Ethiopian soldiers in the border town of Beled Hawo. The battle began when the Ethiopian military pounded the town with heavy artillery before Ahlu Sunna fighters along with TFG and Ethiopian forces moved in. No casualties have been reported thus far, and the majority of the civilian population is believed to have fled into Kenya. The Associated Press reported that al Shabaab fighters in the town displayed the bodies of eight men they claimed had been killed by al Shabaab militants and publicly executed another man believed to have been associated with the TFG.
- Fighting at the border of Kenya and Somalia near the Kenyan town of Mandera killed one woman and injured at least ten other people. Eight Kenyans were injured February 24 by stray bullets fired during conflicts within Somalia, but casualties mounted when al Shabaab fighters attacked a border checkpoint February 25. Kenyan military spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Capital News that “The war is not in Kenya, these people are fighting on the other side of the border but the effects are being felt on our side because it is not far away. But Kenyans should be assured that we are safe, we have enough security at the border.”
- Ahmed Osman, deputy chairman of the Shabelle Valley Administration (SVA), told Shabelle Media Network that SVA soldiers had killed thirteen al Shabaab fighters and seized control of the town of Beledweyne.
- TFG President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, speaking to reporters at Villa Somalia, announced that after having considered “the rule of law, the country’s current political status, security and economy,” he had decided to reject the TFG parliament’s decision to extend its own mandate by three years. Sharif noted that that Somalia depends on international aid and advised that the international community remain involved in Somali politics. Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden said that the parliament’s decision will not be reversed, noting that it was legal and in agreement with the constitution.
- Puntland security forces arrested three religious clerics accused of being al Shabaab supporters as they left the mosque in the town of Galkayo in the Mudug region. Galkayo police also discovered the body of a man, who was estimated to be around fifty-years old and had been shot repeatedly.
- Local residents told Shabelle Media Network that TFG security personnel arrested at least five people in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu on charges of being involved in recent unrest in the district.
- The TFG military appointed former warlord and Defense Minister Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, also known as Indha Adde, as a general in the TFG army. At a press conference announcing his appointment, Siad swore to continue fighting until al Shabaab was driven out of Somalia.
- Hundreds of Mogadishu citizens demonstrated peacefully in support of recent TFG and AMISOM offensives against al Shabaab, holding placards reading “Go Ahead” and “Chase Away the Enemies.”
- Zachary Adam Chesser, a twenty-year old American, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a court found him guilty of inciting violence and attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab. Chesser had twice attempted to travel to Somalia to join al Shabaab.