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: Shelling in Taiz leaves three dead and ten injured; security forces clashed with al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan; Yemeni security forces clashed with militants in Aden; tribal militias fought alongside government forces in south Yemen; gunmen ambushed a government security patrol in Aden; security forces killed four militants and wounded two others in Zinjibar; pro- and anti-government protestors clashed in Hudaydah; U.S. counterterrorism adviser visited Saleh in Riyadh; Yemen’s Interior Ministry offers reward for information about escaped prisoners
Horn of Africa: Government forces clashed with al Shabaab in Garbaharey; fighting erupted between government soldiers in Mogadishu; gunmen shot into populated area in Galkayo; al Shabaab withdrew from military installations in Lower Jubba region; unconfirmed reports suggest death of senior al Shabaab commander and other militants near Kismayo; al Shabaab banned selling of qat and cigarettes in several regions; al Shabaab blocked Somalis from fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya; militants blocked residents in Hiraan region from drinking at wells; Somali government official announced that airstrikes in Somalia will continue; Kenyan official urged families to teach children values and prevent them from joining militant groups; Kenyan government enhances security at airports; Somali parliament discusses Kampala Accord; Ugandan president asked international community for more assistance in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- Artillery shelling between Republican Guards and armed tribesmen on July 10 in Taiz killed three civilians and injured ten others. Thousands of protestors marched in the city after the deaths and called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
- Security forces clashed with al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan governorate. Four militants and one government soldier were killed. Four other soldiers were injured in the clashes. Yemen’s Ministry of Defense website reported on July 10 that al Qaeda-linked militants are hiding in mosques in Abyan and “using them as ammunition depots.”
- Government-backed tribal militias fought alongside the Yemeni army against al Qaeda-linked militants for the first time in south Yemen on July 10. Violence erupted between tribesmen and Islamist militants in the towns of Lawder and Mudia in Abyan governorate when tribal officials failed to persuade militants to leave the town. Tribal fighters killed one militant and wounded four others.
- Gunmen ambushed a security patrol in Aden on July 9, killing a Yemeni army officer and two troops. Military sources said the assailants fired on a jeep in Thalaet village, killing officer Lotf al Mazlum and two soldiers under his patrol. Two civilians were also wounded in the attack. Officials suspect that southern separatists were behind the attack. Security forces also clashed with Islamist militants in other parts of the city, residents said.
- Yemen’s security forces killed four militants and wounded two others in clashes in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, on July 10, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry. One government soldiers was also killed.
- AFP reported that anti-Saleh and pro-government protestors clashed in the port city of Hudaydah on July 10 before police dispersed the crowds with tear gas, leaving ten people injured. Yemen Post reported that pro-government “thugs” intercepted a peaceful demonstration in Hudaydah and “attacked the protestors with live bullets, tear gas, batons, rocks and daggers. Local sources told Yemen Post reporters that at least 20 protestors were injured. News Yemen reported that one protestor was killed and 300 others injured.
- Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan visited Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on July 10 in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Brennan urged Saleh to authorize a transition of power and sign a deal that would revive the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) proposal. White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “Mr. Brennan emphasized the importance of resolving the political crisis in Sanaa so that the Yemeni government and people can successfully confront the serious challenges they face, including the terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of Yemeni citizens…During the meeting, Mr Brennan called upon President Saleh to fulfill expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and constitutional political transition in Yemen…The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realise their aspirations.” After the meeting, Saleh said “the Gulf initiative and the UN statement are the platforms to exit the current crisis.” Brennan will meet Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi today to discuss reopening the GCC-brokered transition deal.
- The Ministry of the Interior announced a reward of 3,000,000 riyals to any citizen who comes forward with information on any of 61 wanted terrorists, allegedly affiliated with al Qaeda who escaped from a prison in Mukalla.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali government forces and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters clashed with al Shabaab militants in Garbaharey town, the capital of Gedo region, on July 11. Fighting erupted when al Shabaab fighters fired artillery rounds in Garbaharey near government military bases. At least two people were killed in the fighting.
- Fighting erupted between government soldiers in Mogadishu overnight on July 10, leaving two people dead and two others injured. The confrontation started after a dispute between soldiers over control of a house in Taleh neighborhood of Hodan district.
- Unidentified gunmen fired indiscriminately into a populated area on July 8 in Galkayo town in Somalia’s central Mudug region, killing al least one person and injuring two others.
- Al Shabaab has reportedly withdrawn from several of its military bases and training camps in the Lower Jubba region in southern Somalia. Sources in Kismayo indicated that al Shabaab has abandoned over 11 important military installations in the region. Abandoned areas include a military base inside the former meat-processing factory, training camps, and a firearms depot.
- Sources told RBC Radio that at least nine senior al Shabaab leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike in southern Somalia in late June. An anonymous resident in Kismayo told RBC Radio that he saw al Shabaab militants digging graves and burying bodies. Recent unconfirmed reports suggest that Ibrahim al Afghani, a senior al Shabaab commander with close ties to al Qaeda, was among those killed. U.S. officials confirmed on July 3that an airstrike was carried out in Qandal village, approximately 10 km west of Kismayo, and targeted senior al Shabaab operatives.
- Al Shabaab banned the selling of qat and cigarettes in regions under their control. Witnesses said they saw pick-up trucks with speakers that announced the ban at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps just outside of Mogadishu. The ban will take effect in Elasha Biyaha, Lafole, and throughout the Afgoi corridor.
- Al Shabaab has blocked Somali citizens in the Lower Jubba region from fleeing to refugee camps in northeastern Kenya. Al Shabaab mayor in Kismayo Sheikh Yaqub Ali said that anyone who disobeys the order will be punished.
- Al Shabaab-linked fighters in Hiraan region blocked local residents from drinking at wells. Militants seized three wells in Bulo-Burde district and refused all residents who approached the well.
- A Somali government official announced on July 9 that aerial attacks against al Shabaab leaders will continue. Somali Deputy Defense Minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig said that the goal of the airstrikes is to force foreign militants to leave the country or be killed.
- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) held a seminar in Kigali, Rwanda that focused on implementing new strategies in Somalia to enhance the protection of civilians. Experts on international and humanitarian law attended the meeting. The African Union’s special representative in Somalia Boubacar Diarra said, “We want our peacekeepers to know their duty and responsibility to the Somali people. We deal with an environment where the protection of civilians is important.” Seminar attendees were informed by AMISOM of its creation of “no fire zones” in which AMISOM troops would not return fire at al Shabaab fighters in populated areas. Officials also discussed the political impasse in Somalia and called for an end to the political bickering.
- Kenyan Lower Northeastern Regional Commissioner Hassan Farah “urged parents and teachers to teach good moral and patriotism in their children so that they are not tempted to join militia groups.” The warning comes a day after a 16-year-old boy was arrested at Holugho checkpoint after leaving an al Shabaab recruitment center in Mogadishu and attempting to sneak back into the country.
- The Kenyan government has enhanced security at airports in response to intelligence indicating an imminent terrorist attack in the country.
- Somali parliamentarians met for the second day in Mogadishu to discuss the approval of specific articles in the Kampala Accord. Several lawmakers said they would never approve the 10 articles of the accord. Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali attended the meeting.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on July 11 that he wants to international community to provide more assistance to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Museveni said, "This Somali problem appears to be a conservation project because of the one dimensional involvement…Why can we not increase the dimension? Why don't we use the air?... Somalia is the exporter of terrorism in the whole area. The pirates have made shipping to this region very expensive since ships must make huge diversions in vain attempts to avoid the pirates.”