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: Government forces and tribesmen launched offensive against Islamist militants in Zinjibar; fighting in Taiz leaves scores dead and wounded; Republican Guard forces fired rockets in Arhab district; opposition fighters clashed with al Houthi rebels in al Jawf governorate; youth movement announced a transitional council; demonstrators marched in Taiz and al Hudaydah; U.S. official confirmed that U.S. military carried out an airstrike on a police station on July 14
Horn of Africa: Somali government forces clashed with al Shabaab in Beled Hawo; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a apprehended ten al Shabaab members in Galgugud region; U.S. intelligence reveals AQAP assistance to al Shabaab; soldiers seize al Shabaab supplies in Gedo region; al Shabaab set fire to aid vehicle; al Shabaab destroyed four water reservoirs in Hiraan region; al Shabaab recruiting operation uncovered in Minneapolis
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni government forces and armed tribesmen launched an offensive against al Qaeda-linked militants in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, on July 16. The Yemeni military has deployed an additional 500 troops, along with tanks and rocket launchers. Tribesmen said they sent an additional 450 men to accompany government troops. A local official said 35 militants had been killed since the beginning of the offensive including three leaders.
- Republican Guard forces shelled al Rawdha district of Taiz governorate on July 15, killing at least three civilians and injuring eight others. Clashes between government soldiers and opponents in other parts of Taiz left seven civilians dead and at least 37 others wounded.
- Republican Guard forces fired rockets into Arhab district on the outskirts of Sana’a on July 16, killing a civilian and injuring three others. Local sources said the rockets aimed at targets in the village of al Obowa and destroyed several homes. Republican Guard forces also conducted attacks in Nihm district.
- Opposition fighters clashed with al Houthi rebels in Sadba’a and al Ghail districts in al Jawf governorate, leaving scores dead. A regional JMP leader blamed Iran and the Yemeni government for supporting the al Houthi rebels and disrupting ceasefire agreements in the region.
- The youth movement announced the formation of a 17-member transitional council on July 16. The council “would include former Yemeni President Ali Nasser Mohammed and leaders of several opposition groups, including exiles.” The council would be tasked with appointing a 501-member national assembly, which would draft a new constitution. Opposition party leader Hamid Assim told Reuters that the “council does not reflect (the views) of the Joint Meeting [Parties].” Yemeni deputy minister of information Abdul Janadi denounced the council’s formation, saying the move “pours gas on the fire.”
- Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated against the Saleh regime on July 17, marking the anniversary of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rise to power in 1978. In Taiz, demonstrators chanted anti-Saleh slogans and waved black flags to express discontent with Saleh’s 33-year hold on power. Republican Guard and Central Security forces dispersed another demonstration in al Hudaydah governorate, leaving approximately 50 people injured.
- U.S. officials confirmed that the U.S. military carried out an airstrike targeting a police station on July 14. Recent reports indicate that at least six al Qaeda-linked militants were killed and approximately 40 others wounded. The strike targeted and missed Fahd Mohammed al Quso, an al Qaeda operative who helped plan the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali government soldiers and forces from Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a clashed with al Shabaab militants in Beled Hawo in Gedo region after al Shabaab attacked a local police station. Sources reported that at least four people have been killed and dozens more injured.
- The regional administration of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a apprehended ten al Shabaab fighters in Dhusamareb, the capital of central Somalia’s Galgugud region. Head of justice Sheikh Said Mohamed Abdurrahman said the al Shabaab members “were captured after massive search operations in the region.”
- New American intelligence has revealed that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided “weapons, fighters and training with explosives over the last year” to the al Shabaab insurgency in Somalia. U.S. officials said AQAP leaders have also pushed for al Shabaab militants to conduct attacks outside of Africa. Al Qaeda leaders also pushed al Shabaab to change its name to “al Qaeda in East Africa” and offered “franchise status” to the group. The U.S. government received the new intelligence from interrogations of Somali-American suspect Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame and digital files found at Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
- Somali military officials said government soldiers seized 20 boxes of ammunition and explosives from al Shabaab “in parts of Gedo region.” Government military officer Nur Sayah Hared said the weapons were discovered in Beled Hawo after a “massive security operation.” He reported that soldiers removed eight landmines from the village of Arooda and other areas near Beled Hawo.
- Al Shabaab fighters set fire to a vehicle carrying medicine and aid in Gedo region on July 15. Al Shabaab seized another vehicle that night for carrying medicinal drugs towards Garbaharey town, a region under government control.
- Al Shabaab militants demolished four water reservoirs between the towns of Mahas and Beledweyne in Ganuribad area of Hiraan region. The al Shabaab members destroyed the water reservoirs that local herders used to “harvest rain during rainy seasons.”
- Prosecutors in Minneapolis filed a document describing an al Shabaab recruiting operation of Somali-Americans in the city. The document was filed in advance of the trial of Omer Abdi Mohamed, who will go on trial next week for “terror-related charges” and involvement in the operation. The document contends that a group of Somalia-Americans “held secret meetings in 2007 to plan the trips [to Somalia], created fake itineraries to fool family members and challenged one another about their commitment.” Other men involved helped construct training camps, received weapons training at safe houses in Somalia, and even participated in an ambush of Ethiopian troops in July 2008.