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: Fighting between al Houthis and tribesmen kill three people; Yemeni army deploys soldiers and vehicles to Aden governorate; court charges Southern Movement leader in absentia; students protest in Taiz governorate; security officials deny rumors that AQAP militants captured wreckage of U.S. drone; President Saleh cables congratulations to Iranian President Ahmadinejad
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants kill fourteen TFG soldiers in Mogadishu; TFG issues statement supporting extension of parliamentary mandate; al Shabaab communiqués announce punishment of thieves, attack on Ahlu Sunna forces, and distribution of tents to drought victims; Radio Garowe reports clashes between tribal militia and Somaliland troops killed 87 people; SSC administration spokesman and TFG prime minister call for peace in Kalshale; Galmudug administration president meets with TFG officials to plan future cooperation; TFG drought committee requests further aid and asks al Shabaab to lift ban on foreign relief agencies; Somali MP announces plan to pursue legal action against UN envoy
Yemen Security Brief
- Skirmishes between al Houthi militants and tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Othman Mujalli, a Yemeni MP, in the Sada’a neighborhood of Sa’ada governorate left three civilians dead. Locals told the Yemen Post that the casualties occurred when three grenades exploded in a public market.
- The Yemen Post reported that hundreds of soldiers accompanied by dozens of tanks and armored vehicles were deployed to Aden governorate in advance of a scheduled Southern Movement protest next Friday in the city of Aden.
- A court in Aden initiated a trial in absentia for Southern Movement leader Shalal Ali Shia on charges of provoking revolution and organizing demonstrations in the south of Yemen and inciting revolt against the Yemeni government.
- Dozens of student protestors, calling themselves “Youth for Change,” staged a sit-in in front of government buildings in Taiz governorate. The demonstrators called for Egyptian President Mubarak to step down and demanded the resignation of President Saleh and other members of his family as well as the Minister of Information, whom protestors accused of having “inaugurated an era of oppressive policing which Yemen has never seen before.”
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, cited a “well-informed security source” who denied reports that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants had recovered the wreckage of a U.S. Predator drone that had crashed near the town of Lawder in Abyan governorate, calling the claims “baseless.” Ahmed Ali al Qofeish, director of security in Abyan governorate, told the Yemen Observer that Yemeni security forces had recovered the remains of what he called “a missile,” adding that “it is unlikely the remains were of a U.S. drone.”
- President Saleh sent a congratulatory cable to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in advance of the Islamic Revolution’s Victory Day on February 11.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab fighters attacked Transitional Federal Government (TFG) army posts in the Bondhere district of Mogadishu, killing four TFG officers and ten soldiers. Locals told Iranian Press TV that TFG forces fired mortars at al Shabaab strongholds in Mogadishu after the attackers withdrew.
- TFG ministers led by Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed issued a press release addressing the parliament’s decision to extend its own mandate by three years. In the statement, the TFG council of ministers concluded that while they value the “dialogue, consultations and advice of the international community,” the decision ultimately rested with “the Somali people represented by the Somali government” and the extension was a necessary measure to “prevent a political vacuum or a disruption to the function of the constitutional institutions of the country.”
- Al Shabaab issued four communiqués through its media arm, al Kata’ib Foundation for Media Production. The first announced the distribution of tents to drought victims in the Banadir region and the second described a February 4 attack on the village of Dhagahyale, located about 55km south of the Guriel district of the Galgudud region in which al Shabaab fighters killed an unknown number of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militants and captured a truck loaded with military supplies. The final two communiqués detailed separate incidents in which two men suffered the amputation of a hand as punishment for the theft of items worth between $110 and $135.
- Radio Garowe, citing local sources, reported that death toll from a February 7 clash between clan militias loyal to the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) administration and Somaliland soldiers in the village of Kalshale in the Sool region was much higher than initially recorded, claiming that at least 65 Somaliland soldiers were killed while local militias lost 22 fighters. Radio Garowe and Shabelle Media Network had previously stated that only ten people were killed. Puntland Fisheries minister Mohamed Farah Aden led a delegation of Puntland cabinet ministers to inspect the aftermath of the fighting, and urged Somaliland to “stop the aggression.” Local sources reported that the fighting began as a small clash between two tribes in the region, but after Somaliland soldiers intervened, Puntland militia forces united against the Somaliland troops.
- Yasin Ali Abdulle, spokesman of the SSC administration, called on Somaliland soldiers to leave the village of Kalshale, saying that civilians were the real victims of recent clashes between SSC militias and Somaliland troops. TFG Prime Minister Mohamed issued a statement asking both sides to reach a peaceful resolution. Locals told Shabelle Media Network that a tense peace has returned to the village in the aftermath of the February 7 clash.
- Mohamed Ahmed Alin, president of the semiautonomous Galmudug administration in central Somalia, met with TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Mohamed in Mogadishu to discuss avenues of possible cooperation between the two administrations, particularly in field of drought relief.
- Ibrahim Nur Habeb, chairman of the TFG drought committee, called on international relief agencies to increase their efforts in areas under TFG control, and asked al Shabaab fighters to allow aid to reach needy Somalis in al Shabaab-controlled regions.
- Somali MP Abdalla Ahmed announced that a group of MPs planned to file legal action against UN Special Envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga for leading international opposition to the extension of the parliament’s mandate.