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 announces pay raise for security forces in response to protests after arrest and subsequent release of prominent activist ; nine killed in clashes between al Houthis and tribesmen; AQAP gunmen kill security official; reinforcements arrive as military prepares for push against AQAP in Shabwah; two people injured in skirmishes in Aden and Habilain; AQAP fighters free injured terrorist from police custody at Abyan hospital; opposition leaders refuse to participate in upcoming elections; protester dies of injuries following demonstration in Aden
Horn of Africa: Twelve people killed in fighting in Mogadishu; ten die in clashes between nomads and al Shabaab; al Shabaab announces recruitment of child soldiers; TFG suspends contract with foreign mercenary; police arrest over forty people in Mogadishu crackdown; al Shabaab official warns Somalis not to depend on foreign aid; al Shabaab officials in Galgudud order civilians not to relocate in search of aid; Mogadishu elders implore al Shabaab to allow foreign aid; Puntland bans all TFG officials from entering
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh responded to growing unrest in Sana’a, announcing a pay raise of 5,000 Yemeni rials per month for all security and military personnel, and rebutting allegations that he would pass on power to his son when he leaves office. Thousands gathered at the University of Sana’a calling for Saleh’s resignation, chanting, “Get out get out Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali,” a reference to the recent ousting of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Approximately thirty demonstrators were arrested, including Tawakul Karman, Khaled al Anesi and Ali Dailami, although all were freed within a day. Shortly after her release, Karman spoke to a demonstration, saying, “We will continue this struggle and the Jasmine Revolution until the removal of this corrupt system that looted the wealth of the Yemenis.”
- Seven al Houthi militants and two Abdin tribesmen were killed in skirmishes in Sa’ada governorate as the two groups fought for control of tribal lands. A local politician told Xinhua that “the security forces did not interfere to end the clashes,” and the deaths follow an earlier statement from the Yemeni Interior Ministry accusing the al Houthis of kidnapping a civilian and wounding another on Friday.
- Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) gunmen killed Lieutenant Colonel Nabil Aklan, a top Yemeni security official, as he walked in Ma’rib governorate. An anonymous source in the Yemeni security service told Xinhua that “the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.”
- Reinforcements arrived in Shabwah governorate to assist the military’s push against AQAP militants in the region. Hundreds of troops arrived with dozens of armored vehicles as soldiers prepare to renew their offensive.
- At least two people were injured in clashes between security forces and militants in Aden. Eyewitnesses reported hearing gunfire lasting for several hours, and rebel fighters were seen attacking a military post in the area. Fighting also broke out in Habilain in Lahij governorate where southern separatist fighters attacked security forces.
- Suspected AQAP militants attacked a hospital in Lawder, in Abyan governorate, freeing the “wanted al Qaeda suspect Amin al Sayed” and injuring a policing officer. Al Sayed was under arrest for his involvement in an earlier shootout in which a security official was killed.
- Dr. Saif Sael, assistant general-secretary of the Yemeni Socialist Party, announced that the opposition coalition the Joint Meeting Parties “don’t even recognized these elections,” and announced that opposition groups would not take part in upcoming elections “whether officially or any other way.” Yemen’s voter registry has not been updated since 2008, and the government has refused to update the registry before the upcoming round of elections, disqualifying approximately 1.5 million Yemenis who have reached the legal voting age of 18 since 2008.
- A security guard at the Yemeni vice president’s palace was wounded by a gunshot during a southern separatist protest Thursday evening in Aden’s Sada’a neighborhood. Armed demonstrators blocked streets, set fire to car tires, and fired upon security personnel, who responded with tear gas. A student who was injured in the protest later died at a local hospital.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Twelve people were killed in fighting in the Bondhere and Hodan districts of Mogadishu. The majority of casualties were civilians caught in the crossfire between al Shabaab and AMISOM forces.
- Ten people, including six al Shabaab militants, were killed in the Middle Shabelle region after nomads in the area refused al Shabaab’s demands to turn in a suspected killer.
- Sheikh Mohammed Abu Abadalla, al Shabaab’s chairman in the Lower Shabelle region, announced the recruitment of a group of boys from the village of Marka to join the fight against what he labeled the African Christians and their apostate government in Mogadishu. Abadalla called on other Somali clans to follow suit and contribute fighters and weapons to al Shabaab.
- Abdikarim Jama, Minister of Information in Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) announced that the TFG has suspended its contract with Saracen International, a private security company directed by Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater Worldwide. Jama told reporters that “at this point, our collective thinking is that this is not a good thing,” adding that “We don’t want to have anything to do with Blackwater. We need help, but we don’t want mercenaries.” TFG Defense Minister Abdulhakim Mohamoud Haji Faqi echoed his colleague’s comments, saying “We will not accept any mercenaries,” but said that he was open to the idea of foreign contractors being used to “improve the capacity” of TFG forces.
- TFG police arrested more than forty people in Mogadishu over the course of a two day crackdown in response to a grenade attack on a Somali forces Saturday night. Locals reported that businesses were closed during the search, and police stopped all vehicles travelling in the Waberi district of Mogadishu. A curfew was imposed Sunday night and remains in effect.
- Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an al Shabaab official who was formerly the leader of Hizb al Islam, spoke to the media and urged needy Somalis not to depend on foreign agencies for aid, saying that “foreign aid agencies will only worsen the problem.” Aweys warned that “there are Christian stamps on foreign food packages carrying messages aiming to Christianize our community.” Aweys also said that foreign warships have been patrolling the coast of Somalia under the pretense of fighting piracy but in reality have been harassing Somali fishermen and trying to protect Somalia from al Shabaab.
- Al Shabaab officials in the Galgudud region warned needy Somalis not to travel to areas under the control of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a to seek aid. The announcement came after several families in the area relocated in response to al Shabaab’s refusal to allow foreign aid to reach drought-affected areas.
- Mohammed Sheikh Abdurrahman, speaking on behalf of the Mogadishu elders, implored al Shabaab to allow humanitarian assistance to reach drought-affected Somalis in regions under their control in southern and central Somalia.
- Puntland deputy Interior Minister Ali Gab Yusuf announced that all officials from the TFG are banned from entering Puntland, adding that the immigration departments and airports within Puntland have been notified. Puntland has accused the TFG of failing to follow its mandate, which calls for the government to establish rule of law and hold elections by August 2011.