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 thanks Yemeni people for maintaining order; foreign minister meets with European officials to discuss airport security
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab communiqués announce creation of TV channel, distribution of aid, claim credit for Mogadishu attacks; clashes between Ahlu Sunna militants and al Shabaab gunmen kill five people; two people killed in skirmishes between TFG and AMISOM soldiers and al Shabaab fighters; al Shabaab gunmen assassinate two TFG officials in Kenyan town; al Shabaab militants kill teenage boy; al Shabaab spokesman threatens attacks in response to TFG policy of searching women beneath their veils at checkpoints; TFG soldiers receive structured salary for the first time; UN announces new anti-piracy plan; joint AU-UN task force established to coordinate military strategy, aims to provide 4,000 new peacekeepers; British diplomat promises support for relief and peacekeeping missions
Yemen Security Brief
- SABA Net, Yemen’s News Agency, reported that President Saleh presided over a meeting of the National Defense Council in which he thanked both the Yemeni civilian population and security personnel for staying calm, adding that while he was disappointed protests continued after his earlier announcement that neither he nor his son would run for office in 2013, he concluded that “the Yemeni people remain great and in favor of peace,” suggesting that “dialogue is the best way to address all issues.”
- Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi met with European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas in Brussels to discuss possible improvements in Yemeni airport security and to petition European countries to open their airports to Yemenia Airways flights, according to SABA Net, Yemen’s News Agency.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab issued several communiqués through its media arm, al Kata’ib Foundation for Media Production, announcing the creation of a land-based broadcast TV channel, the distribution of charity in the Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions, and claimed credit for a grenade attack and a bombing in the Waberi district of Mogadishu which were carried out by the explosives battalion and killed several AMISOM and TFG soldiers. The inaugural TV broadcast focused on the execution of an alleged CIA spy named Ahmad Kisi, representing a “strong blow to the CIA in Somalia,” noting that the creation of an official al Shabaab TV channel “represents an advanced media leap in the mujahideen’s media in general, and Somalia in particular.” In the Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions, ten trucks delivered aid to drought-affected areas, bringing 4,000 sacks of wheat and corn and 375 gallons of oil which were distributed to 7,500 families.
- Fighting between al Shabaab gunmen and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militants killed at least five people in the village of Dhagahyale, located about 55km south of the Guriel district of the Galgudud region. Al Shabaab’s military spokesman, Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab, issued a statement claiming that al Shabaab forces attacked after an Ahlu Sunna militant raped a local teenage girl, adding that al Shabaab militants seized a truck containing aid supplies, food, and Somali shillings. Ahlu Sunna’s spokesman for the region, Sheikh Abdirazak Mohammed, also issued a statement, asserting that Ahlu Sunna fighters had repulsed the attack and had killed a large number of what he called al Shabaab’s misled teenagers.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM soldiers clashed with al Shabaab fighters in the Bondhere district of Mogadishu, leaving two people dead. The two sides traded gunfire and artillery exchanges and locals told Shabelle Media Network that some artillery shells landed in other parts of the city away from the fighting.
- Mohamed Abdi Kalil, TFG commissioner of the Beled Hawo district, told Mogadishu radio stations that al Shabaab assassins armed with pistols killed two TFG officials from the Bakool region in the Kenyan town of Mandera. Only one of the victims, Mo’allim Jis, commissioner of the Wajid district of the Bakool region, has been identified thus far.
- Al Shabaab fighters shot and killed a young boy in the Mudug region of central Somalia when he refused to pray at a mosque, according to reports obtained by Shabelle Media Network.
- Ahmed Yare, commander of TFG forces in the Afgoi corridor, denied Al Shabaab military spokesman Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab’s accusations that TFG soldiers are forcing Somali women to remove their niqab, a traditional veil covering the face and head, and inappropriately using their hands during searches at TFG-controlled checkpoints. Mus’ab also stated that al Shabaab fighters will attack TFG checkpoints and the homes of TFG officers in the area if the searches continue, while Yare stated that the TFG military would not be intimidated, adding “al Shabaab want to create violence in TFG controlled areas by using niqab and that is why they are talking about the searches we are done.”
- Under the leadership of AMISOM Force Commander Major General Nathan Mugisha and Kenyan Colonel Dido Rasso, TFG soldiers received organized salary payments for the first time. In a trial exercise, approximately 8,000 Somali soldiers were paid $100 each, and Colonel Rasso declared the experiment a success, saying “it has given us insight into the TFG military that will go a long way toward better streamlining of the force and harmonization of the pay system.” Payment was carried out in the TFG-controlled districts of Bondhere, Shingani, Wadajir, Hodan, Hamar Jabjab, Dharkenley, and Waberi in Mogadishu, although Colonel Rasso and his team had to dodge gunfire while traveling through several hotspots in the city.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of a new international coalition to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa, noting that “although piracy manifests itself at sea, the roots of the problem are to be found ashore. In essence, piracy is a criminal offence that is driven by economic hardship, and that flourishes in the absence of effective law enforcement.” The new UN plan calls for greater cooperation amongst naval forces in the area and emphasizes the necessity of restoring domestic security in the region so that security forces can “deter, interdict and bring to justice” pirates.
- UN and AU officials have agreed to the creation of the UN-AU Joint Task Force on Peace and Security, a tripartite commission that also includes the TFG, to direct military strategy in Somalia and aid the TFG in securing the country. UN Peacekeeping head Alain le Roy and Ramtane Lamamra, head of the AU Peace and Security Division, direct the Task Force, which established its first priority to be the rapid deployment of 4,000 additional peacekeepers to Somalia.
- British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Stephen O’Brien, speaking during a visit to Nairobi, Kenya, called on the TFG to renew their efforts against Somali extremists and pirates, adding that the UK would continue to provide aid to the Somali people and AMISOM forces.