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: Thousands demonstrate against proposed reforms; Interior Ministry announces 178 soldiers killed in 2010; President Saleh meets with American senators

Horn of Africa: AMISOM mandate extended one year; Mogadishu gun battle leaves three people dead; two soldiers killed in checkpoint dispute between TFG troops; Ethiopian soldiers begin searching vehicles at checkpoint; al Shabaab officials attempt to persuade disaffected colleagues to relinquish posts; Somali PM hopes to re-open relations with Puntland; Blackwater founder reportedly operating private security force in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Thousands turned out in Taiz, in southern Yemen, to protest the government’s proposed reforms, which demonstrators argued were not enough. Yemeni President Ali Abduhallh Saleh, who has governed for over thirty years, proposed constitutional amendments limiting presidential terms to two seven or five year terms, and also proposed introducing universal adult suffrage. Mohammed al Sabry, an opposition leader and member of the Islamist party Islah, told Reuters, “We want constitutional amendments but we want amendments that don’t lead to the continuance of the ruler and the inheritance of power to his children,” continuing, “We won’t permit these corrupt leaders to stay in power and we are ready to sleep in the streets for our country’s sake, in order to liberate it from the hands of the corrupt.”[1]
  • An Interior Ministry statement announced that 178 security personnel were killed in Yemen in 2010. 852 were wounded, although the release only covered casualties in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the skirmishes between government forces and Southern Movement militants.[2]
  • President Saleh and Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi met with a group of American senators, led by Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin, to discuss security issues, future cooperation, and the exchange of training techniques as Yemen and the U.S. expand their fight against AQAP.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The African Union Peace and Security Council issued a brief statement announcing the extension of the AMISOM mandate until January 2012.[4]
  • Fierce fighting erupted after al Shabaab militants conducted hit and run attacks on AMISOM troops stationed in northern Mogadishu, leaving three people dead. Gunfire continued into the night, and both sides exchanged mortar fire.[5]
  • Two soldiers were killed in Hiraan region after a dispute turned violent when a unit of Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces crossing into Somalia from Ethiopia attempted to relieve a garrison of TFG soldiers manning a checkpoint at Kalabeyrka junction outside of Beledweyne. Military officers in the region refused to discuss the incident, but assured Shabelle Media Network that resolution was underway.[6]
  • Ethiopian soldiers have begun searching trucks and buses in the Hiraan region of central Somalia. Reports indicate that Ethiopian troops have set up a base at Kalabeyrka junction and are thoroughly searching all passing public transport vehicles, leading to extensive traffic delays.[7]
  • Multiple high ranking al Shabaab officials arrived in Kismayo in an effort to persuade several junior administrators to relinquish their posts after having been dismissed earlier. A witness told Shabelle Media Network that the junior officers have refused to step down, and the situation was described as “unpredictable.”[8]
  • Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed became the first official to comment on the state of the TFG’s relationship with Puntland, telling BBC Somali Service that the TFG hopes to open talks following Puntland’s abrupt decision to cease cooperation and negotiations with the TFG.[9]
  • The AP cited a report from an anonymous source claiming Erik Prince, the founder of the now defunct Blackwater Worldwide, is currently overseeing the training of 2,000 Somali recruits to serve as a private anti-piracy force through the private security company, Saracen International. The project, which is funded by several Arab countries, also provides security to government officials in Mogadishu and has been linked to efforts to depose a warlord in Puntland accused of supplying weapons to al Shabaab.[10]


[1] Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam, “Protests Erupt in Yemen, President Offers Reform,” Reuters, January 20, 2011. Available:
[2] Saeed al Batati, “178 Yemeni Troops Died in Action Last Year,” Arab News, January 20, 2011. Available:
[3] “President Saleh Meets U.S. Senate Delegation,” Saba News, January 20, 2011. Available:
[4] “AU Extends Somalia Peacekeeper Force Mandate,” Reuters, January 20, 2011. Available:
[5] “Fierce Mogadishu Overnight Fighting Leaves 3 Dead,” Shabelle Media Network, January 21, 2011. Available:
[6] “Somali Forces Clash in Central Somalia Leaving 2 Dead,” Shabelle Media Network, January 20, 2011. Available:
[7] “Somalia: Ethiopian Military Begins Searching Buses Passing Hiran Region,” Shabelle Media Network, January 21, 2001. Available:
[8] “Al Shabaab Fires Some of Its Officials in Southern Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, January 21, 2011. Available:
[9] “Somali PM Said We Will Deal Puntland, Unease of the Federal Somali Government,” Mareeg Online, January 20, 2011. Available:
[10] “Blackwater Founder Trains Somalis,” Associated Press, January 20, 2011. Available:
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