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: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula responds to French offensive in Mali; Abdul Malik al Houthi delivers speech calling for overthrow of Yemeni regime; protesters storm Central Security Headquarters on Socotra; demonstrators in Sana’a call for implementation of National Dialogue Conference, military restructuring; increased deployment of security forces in Sana’a in run-up to UN meeting; Aden court employees on strike; gunmen exchange fire with police in al Wa’rah village, al Dhaleh governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab Twitter account suspended after group threatens to kill Kenyan hostages; Somali government forces clash with al Shabaab near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency denies reports of taking bribes for release of prisoners; Kismayo interim administration denies censoring journalists; Kenyan voters undereducated on local candidates in March 4 election; Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations asks for reimbursement for Somalia campaign

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Malahem Media Foundation, the media arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released an official response to the French military intervention in Mali on top-level jihadi websites on January 24. It claimed that the French intervention, which it called a “Crusader war,” “will only cause [the French] calamities and disasters,” and that AQAP would respond to the French intervention, saying that “it is impossible for [AQAP] to see [its] brothers in faith facing aggression without moving to support them.”[1]
  • Abdul Malik al Houthi delivered a speech criticizing the Yemeni government in Sa’ada governorate on January 24 in honor of the day of birth of the Prophet Mohammad. He accused the Yemeni regime of being an American client, and called on Yemenis to overthrow the regime.[2]
  • Protesters stormed the Central Security Headquarters on the island of Socotra on January 25. According to local sources, demonstrators are demanding appropriate recompense for lands seized from them by the military camp.[3]
  • Demonstrators marched from Change Square to the Presidential Palace in Sana’a on January 24, demanding quicker implementation of decisions relating to the National Dialogue Conference and military restructuring, and that President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fire corrupt leaders in the security services and try individuals involved in killing civilians during the 2011 Yemen uprising.[4]
  • Yemeni authorities deployed additional security forces around Sana’a on January 24 in the run-up to the January 28 UN Security Council meeting in the Yemeni capital. Reinforcements have included additional patrols on Sana’a’s main streets, and checkpoints at city entrances.[5]
  • Aden court employees have been on strike since January 21, effectively suspending the justice system in the city. They claim that they have not been given benefits promised to them in a union contract four months ago.[6]
  • Gunmen clashed with police in al Wa’rah village, al Dhaleh governorate on January 25. Police led by Ali Muthaina al Sha’ibi arrived on the scene to recover a stolen car from the armed group, led by a man named Yaqub al Qamaari. One civilian was killed in the incident.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab’s Twitter account was suspended on January 25, after the group used the account to threaten to kill Kenyan hostages on January 23, and to announce the capture of French intelligence officer Dennis Allex on January 17. An al Shabaab spokesman blamed the action on al Shabaab’s “Christian enemies.”[8]
  • Somali government forces raided a village near Jowhar, Middle Shabelle Region on January 24, detaining an unknown number of al Shabaab militants. The raid comes after an al Shabaab attack on Jowhar the night before, in which government forces and al Shabaab militants exchanged fire, killing an unknown number of individuals.[9]
  • The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency denied reports that suspects in its custody are released after paying bribes in an interview published on January 25. It also refuted allegations that it had recruited former al Shabaab militants.[10]
  • The interim administration in Kismayo denied that it had been censoring media in an interview on January 25, in response to a January 23 report by Shabelle Media Network.[11]
  • Kenyan voters are undereducated about local, county, or legislative candidates in the run-up to the March 4 election, according to a report published on January 25. This comes in light of post-2010 reforms, in which Kenya’s historical eight provinces will be replaced with 47 county administrations which act as the second tier of government under the federal level.[12]  
  • Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau urged the UN Security Council to pay all funding that was promised in support of the AMISOM campaign in Somalia during a council debate on January 21.[13]  

[1] “AQAP Threatens France Over Intervention in Mali,” Flashpoint Partners, January 24, 2013. Available:
[2] “Al Houthi Attacks the Government and Describes it as a ‘Client,’ and Calls for the Overthrow of the Current Regime Because it is an Extension of the Last,” al Masdar Online, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Dozens from Socotra Storm Central Security Headquarters,” Barakish Net, January 25, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Sana’a: Huge March Refuses Membership of Those Who Killed Revolutionaries in Dialogue Conference, and Call for Their Trial,” Mareb Press, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Heavy Security Reinforcements Days Before a Security Council Meeting in Sana’a,” Mareb Press, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Complete Paralysis in Aden’s Courts After Employee Strike,” Barakish, January 25, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Citizen Killed After Clashes Between Rescue Forces and Gunmen in al Dhaleh,” al Masdar Online, January 25, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Al Shabaab Says Enemies Closed its Twitter Account,” Reuters, January 25, 2013. Available:
[9] “Somalia: Govt Forces Raid Village Near Jowhar After Al Shabaab Attack,” Garowe Online, January 24, 2013. Available:
[10] “National Security Agency Refutes Alleged Underhand Deals to Free Suspects,” Bar-Kulan, January 25, 2013. Available:
[11] “Kismayo’s Interim Admin Rubbishes Alleged Media Censorship,” Bar-Kulan, January 25, 2013. Available:
[12] “Kenyan Voters Lack Information on Candidates for Local Posts,” Sabahi, January 24, 2013. Available:
[13] Kevin J. Kelley, “Kenya demands UN to make full refund over Amisom role,” Daily Monitor, January 23, 2013. Available:
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