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: Yemeni military clashes with Ansar al Sharia in Jaar and Shaqra; Ansar al Sharia attacks army outpost near Jaar, Yemeni army shells militant positions; one soldier and one southern activist killed in al Dhaleh; Yemeni coastguards close four ports in pay protest; Saudi national freed after being held by tribesmen for six months; Hadi-appointed brigadier general assumes full control of 3rd Armored Brigade; Ansar al Sharia denies Yemeni military’s control of town in Abyan; AQAP scholar featured in audio speech detailing America’s presence in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab recaptures Elbur from Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian forces; al Shabaab leader offers 10 camels for the “hideout” of Obama and 10 chickens and roosters Hillary Clinton; senior State Department official visits Mogadishu; two boys beheaded in Elbur; TFG prime minister plans to remove al Shabaab by August; Kenyan minister killed in a helicopter crash; head of judicial court in Hargeisa shot and wounded; Bar Kulan journalist wounded in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district; young males arrested in Afgoi for having potential links to al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- The Yemeni military continued its offensive to recapture Jaar in Abyan governorate over the weekend. A Yemeni military official said that Yemeni troops recaptured a factory located five kilometers from Jaar that was used as a base by Ansar al Sharia militants.“We are getting ready to enter Jaar now, we are on the city's outskirts,” the official said. Overnight clashes in Jaar between Yemeni soldiers and Ansar al Sharia militants killed 28 militants and six soldiers. Yemeni warplanes and helicopters reportedly attacked suspected militant positions. The official added that clashes near Shaqra, a coastal town east of Zinjibar, killed eight militants and two soldiers. The Yemeni Defense Ministry said that the Yemeni army, backed by armed tribesmen, seized Ahwar, east of Shaqra.
- Ansar al Sharia militants opened fire on an army outpost near Jaar north of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate on June 8. The militants killed two Yemeni soldiers and wounded four others, according to military and local sources. The Yemeni military responded by shelling Ansar al Sharia positions. A source in Jaar confirmed that nine militants were killed and five others were wounded in the attack.
- The Yemeni Defense Ministry reported that at least one soldier from the 35th Armored Brigade and one Southern Movement protester were killed in clashes in al Dhaleh governorate on June 10. Another soldier was injured and abducted in the firefight.
- Port officials said that Yemeni coastguards closed down Aden’s port, al Hudaydah and Saleeh ports in al Hudaydah governorate, and Mocha port in Taiz governorate and Saleef to protest the Yemeni government’s failure to pay financial benefits on June 10.
- Yemen’s state news agency SABA News reported that Nasser Abdulaziz al Mahiri, a Saudi national who was kidnapped six months ago in north Yemen, was released on June 10 following tribal negotiations.
- The Defense Ministry confirmed that Brigadier General Abdul Rahman Abdullah al Halili assumed full control of the 3rd Armored Brigade. The 3rd Armored Brigade had previously refuted Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s appointment of Halili on April 6.
- Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s meda wing, released a 53-second video refuting the Yemeni government’s claims that it had captured Husn Shadad in Abyan governorate on jihadist forums on June 9. The video features an unidentified fighter stating, “Here we are by the grace, bounty and power of Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, situated in this village of Hisn Shaddad, and we control it strongly with all what we have of power, praise be to Allah. Moreover, we have advanced positions over the village by the grace, bounty and generosity of Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He.”
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) media arm al Malahem Foundation released an audio speech titled, “America in Yemen” from scholar Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari on jihadist forums on June 11. In the speech, Nadhari claims that America’s military and political presence in Yemen is “more clear than sun in midday.” Nadhari also states that President Hadi is America’s “slave” in Yemen, as Hamid Karzai is in Afghanistan, and merely a mouthpiece for American policy.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Elbur in Galgudud region using tanks and armored vehicles after civilian and allied forces abandoned the area. Elbur was a stronghold for al Shabaab until it was captured by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and Ethiopian forces in March 2012. It is unclear why the area was evacuated on June 10.
- Al Shabaab official Fuad Muhammed Khalaf offered the reward of 10 camels and 10 chickens and roosters for the whereabouts of United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, respectively. Khalaf announced in front of thousands of Muslims on June 8 that “we do not fear America and seek martyrdom from Allah.” The reward mocked the millions recently offered by the U.S. for information on the locations of senior al Shabaab leaders.
- U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson arrived to Mogadishu on June 10, marking the first high-ranking visit by a U.S. official in almost two decades. Carson met with TFG president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. Carson announced that the U.S. is set to impose sanctions on anyone who hinders the Somali roadmap process to end the political transition period. Carson added that sanctions will include travel and visa bans and asset freezes.
- Al Shabaab allegedly beheaded two young boys in the recently captured city of Elbur in Galgudud region. The militants claimed the boys were spying on behalf of Ahlu Sunna.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali announced a plan to eradicate al Shabaab from Somalia by August 2012 as a benchmark to transition into a new government. He indicated that African Union peacekeepers and Somali forces secured key areas and pursued al Shabaab on various fronts.
- George Saitoti, the Kenyan Internal Security Minister, was killed when his helicopter crashed into a forest on June 10. In addition to being a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, Saitoti was an outspoken adversary of al Shabaab and frequently threatened to crush the group.
- Head of the judicial Hargeisa court in Somaliland Abidirashid Duraan was shot and wounded by gangs. Duraan left a mosque near his home after morning prayer and was attacked by gunmen. The motive behind this violence is not yet known.
- A journalist working for Bar Kulan Radio was reportedly wounded by two masked gunmen in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district on his way home from work.
- Young males from Afgoi town were arrested and taken to Mogadishu for interrogation after a grenade explosion targeted the Afgoi police station on June 8. Authorities searched for al Shabaab members in homes and commercial places.