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: Opposition, ruling party supporters rally in Sana’a; AQAP ambush kills five people; Yemeni man self-immolates; five protestors injured at rally in Shabwah; activists tell Yemen Times that prison strengthened their resolve; U.S. diplomat affirms support for Yemen; Transport Minister plans creation of Airport Security Unit
Horn of Africa: Ten people killed in Mogadishu as al Shabaab militants and government soldiers clash; Shabelle Valley Administration fighters kill five al Shabaab gunmen in ambush; al Shabaab spokesman explains motives behind ban on foreign aid; Canadian security official warns of al Shabaab recruitment of Toronto youth; U.S. vice admiral suggests using counter-terror tools against pirates
Yemen Security Brief
- Massive demonstrations swept Sana’a, as an estimated 10,000 protestors assembled at the University of Sana’a and approximately 6,000 more spread across the home of the late Parliament Speaker Abdullah bin Husein al Ahmer, Ring Road and Noqum, calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power and asking opposition coalition the Joint Meeting Parties to pursue change. Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee told the New York Times that “very strict security measures” were in effect, although no violence has been reported. Supporters of President Saleh and the ruling party held rallies concurrently, expressing their support for the current administration and carrying placards warning of coming instability and destabilization in Yemen.
- Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Hadramawt governorate ambushed a convoy transporting money belonging to Yemen Post en route to Hami, killing four soldiers and the financial manager of Hadramawt Post. The attackers fled with an estimated 10 million Yemeni rials.
- A young Yemeni man set himself alight in the southern city of Sheikh Othman. 25-year-old Fouad Sultan remains in critical condition after the incident, which follows similar events across the Arab world.
- Police and soldiers dispersed demonstrations in Shabwah governorate in southern Yemen, injuring at least five protestors and arresting dozens more. A local councilman told Xinhua that although demonstrators had planned to gather in the city of Ataq, “a large number of army forces have blocked the main roads,” adding that “the protestors were chanting slogans against the government’s political and economic policies, they also demanded the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.”
- Several activists, including Tawakul Karman, Ali al Dailami and Khaled al Anesi, told the Yemen Times that their time in prison had only strengthened their resolve to continue protesting. Karman said that the “opportunity for change in Yemen is big now because the whole Yemen is moving” and al Anesi added that he was proud to have suffered for “the people and the country’s honor.”
- SABA Net, Yemen’s News Agency, reported that Elizabeth Richard, deputy head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Yemen, told Yemeni deputy prime minister for economic affairs Abdul Karim al Arhabi that the U.S. will continue to support Yemen on “various issues,” according to Saba News.
- Yemeni Transport Minister Khalid al Wazeer met with French envoy Joseph Silva and a delegation of French Border Guards to discuss France’s support for the creation of the Yemeni Airport Security Unit.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Fighting between al Shabaab militants and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM soldiers left ten people dead in Mogadishu’s Hodan, Hawl Wadag and Bondhere districts. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, claimed that al Shabaab fighters had killed five AMISOM soldiers and destroyed two government vehicles.
- Fighters loyal to the Shabelle Valley Administration ambushed al Shabaab militants in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, killing five men. Ahmed Osman, deputy chairman of the Shabelle Valley Administration told Shabelle Media Network that after the initial ambush, fighting continued in the village of Matoore, located approximately fifty kilometers west of Beledweyne.
- Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Somalia, said that “there was unanimous agreement, both inside and outside of Somalia” that the TFG mandate should end in August and announced that a special meeting focusing on the next steps for Somalia will take place during the African Union summit in Ethiopia this weekend and will include all parties and the international community. Mahiga identified “civil war, international terrorism, international piracy and human trafficking” as important issues to address, concluding that “we can’t afford another crisis.”
- Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage told local press that foreign aid agencies “are the enemies of the Somali people, they are disguising themselves under the name humanitarian agencies and are clandestinely victimizing the Somali people,” adding that al Shabaab has provided charity independently in the ten areas the group controls.
- Inspector Keith Finn of Canada’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team told CBC News that al Shabaab has successfully recruited at least twenty Canadian youths, largely from the Greater Toronto Area, to travel to Somalia to fight. Finn warned that while security forces had intercepted a large number of would-be recruits, “the problem is, if they’re prepared to act on it, a very small number of people can cause a great deal of damage to Canadians,” adding that the group was now considered to be the number one threat to Canadian national security.
- Vice Admiral Mark Fox, head of the U.S. Central Command Fleet, suggested that counter-terrorism tools be adapted to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. While acknowledging that he was unaware of any “explicit” connections between Somali pirates and al Qaeda-affiliated militant groups in Somalia such as al Shabaab, Fox said “I don’t advocate that we necessarily go into a higher level of lethal activity but I do advocate broadening the overall scope of how we’re tackling the problem.”