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 to return to Yemen before elections on February 21; militants attack an army convoy in Lahij; commander of Tariq air force base in Taiz resigns after protests; further details on February 6 prison escape

Horn of Africa: Suspected suicide car bombing in Mogadishu; al Shabaab withdraws from towns in Lower Jubba region; British think tank warns that Somalia is a terrorist training ground for homegrown terrorists; bodies found in Beledweyne; Puntland president warns of civil war after Somaliland troops attack Buhoodle in the disputed Ayn region

Yemen Security Brief

  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh has voiced plans to return to Yemen to pick his successor prior to elections scheduled for February 21. The defense ministry’s website displayed the following statement from Saleh: “I will return to the land of the nation after the end of my treatment to be present during the election.”[1]
  • A security source reported that unidentified gunmen attacked an army convoy in Lahij governorate on February 7. One soldier was killed and two were injured before the militants fled on motorcycles.[2]
  • Military sources reported that the commander of Tariq air force base, Yahya ‘Isa, in Taiz has resigned following ongoing protests. Colonel Abdullah Qasim will be ‘Isa’s successor. Protests at other air force bases continue to call for the resignation of Commander Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar, the half-brother of President Saleh.[3]
  • Details have emerged following the escape of three al Qaeda-linked militants from a prison in Lawder in Abyan governorate on February 6. The militant who was injured by security forces’ fire was recaptured and identified as Zain al Jundi. The other two militants managed to escape.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A car bomb exploded near Hotel Muna, last targeted by al Shabaab militants on August 24. It is believed that a suicide bomber drove the vehicle into a café just outside of the hotel.[5]
  • Al Shabaab has reportedly withdrawn from several towns in the Dalayat area of Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia. Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Kenyan forces have made rapid advances in the region. Heavy fighting there has caused the mass displacement of the residents of Qoqani, Taabta, and Hawina villages.[6]
  • The bodies of at least two young men were found in Beledweyne, the capital of Hiraan region. They were reportedly shot dead while they slept. TFG and Ethiopian forces have cordoned off the scene and are looking for the perpetrator.[7]
  • Somaliland forces attacked Buhoodle in the Ayn region of northern Somalia, killing three people and wounding 18 others. The Ayn region is disputed between Somaliland and Puntland. Puntland’s president, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole condemned the attack, saying, "We warn that if Somaliland continues its violent aggressions against Buhoodle, that a new civil war might erupt in northern Somalia."[8]
  • The Royal United Services Institute, a British security think tank, warned in a new report that Somalia could be a training ground for would-be terrorists, where they can gain experience before returning to the UK and committing terrorist acts there.[9]

[1] “Yemen’s Saleh Says to Return Home before Vote,” AP, February 8, 2012. Available:
“Yemen Live Blog,” Al Jazeera, February 8, 2012. Available:
[2] “Yemen’s Saleh Says to Return Home before Vote,” AP, February 8, 2012. Available:
[3] “Sources: The Commander of Tariq Airforce Base Resigns after Protests,” Al Masdar Online, February 8, 2012. Available:
[4] “Yemen’s Saleh Says to Return Home before Vote,” AP, February 8, 2012. Available:
[5] “Car Bomb Explodes Near Hotel in Somali Capital,” Reuters, February 8, 2012. Available:
“Gulf of Aden Security Review - August 24, 2010,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, August 24, 2010. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Al-Shabab Militants Desert from Strongholds in Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, February 8, 2012. Available:
“Mass Displacement Begins in Southwestern Somalia Town,” Shabelle Media Network, February 7, 2012. Available:
[7] “Dead Bodies Were Found in Central Somalia Town,” Shabelle Media Network, February 8, 2012. Available:
[8] “Somalia: Puntland Warns of a ‘New Civil War’ as Somaliland Forces Attack Buhodle,” Garowe Online, February 8, 2012. Available:
[9] Michael Clarke, “UK Terrorism Analysis: The Global Origins of Terrorism,” Royal United Services Institute,
Richard Norton-Taylor, “Somalia is Training Ground for British Would-Be Terrorists, Report Warns,” The Guardian, February 7, 2012. Available:
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