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: Local residents report that Yemeni soldiers are approaching coastal town in Abyan governorate; Yemeni military continues offensive into Jaar and Zinjibar; suicide car bomb kills four tribesmen in Abyan governorate; clashes between al Houthis and Salafists kill at least 34 people in Sa’ada governorate; AQAP claims responsibility for suicide attacks against al Houthis; officials in Dhaleh governorate survive assassination attempt; U.S. government will provide $6.5 million in additional humanitarian assistance; security boosted on Sana’a perimeter; tens of thousands of Yemenis protest in Sana’a
Horn of Africa: World leaders attend Istanbul Conference on Somalia, issue declaration; memorandum of understanding signed by African Union and Kenyan government; al Shabaab militants withdraw from town in Hiraan region; al Shabaab posts communiqué detailing assassination attempt against TFG President Ahmed; al Shabaab threatens to attack Kenyan skyscrapers within the next two weeks; TFG soldiers training in urban combat at Uganda military base; Ahlu Sunna parades child soldier forcibly conscripted by al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Local residents reported that hundreds of Yemeni soldiers backed by tanks are advancing on the coastal town of Shaqra in Abyan governorate.
- The Yemeni military continued its offensive to recapture Zinjibar over the weekend. On June 2, fighting in the southern part of the city between Ansar al Sharia militants and soldiers of the 25th Mechanized brigade killed two militants and one soldier. Artillery fire in Jaar killed four militants the same day. On June 3, Ansar al Sharia militants attacked a military position in central Zinjibar and killed two Yemeni soldiers. Six militants were killed in the ensuing battle. Clashes in the western outskirts of Jaar killed thirteen militants on June 3. Local residents also reported that Yemeni airplanes bombed Ansar al Sharia positions in Shaqra.
- A suicide car bombing at a checkpoint in Um Sorra, near Lawder in Abyan governorate, killed four tribal fighters and injured another of the Popular Resistance Committee. Two militants carried out the attack and one of them was reported to have been disguised as a woman. A local official reported that the attack’s target was Colonel Mohammed Batreeh, the head of military intelligence in Abyan governorate. Batreeh was not injured.
- Clashes between the al Houthi rebels and Salafists killed at least 34 people overnight in Sa’ada governorate’s Kataf district. A Salafist source reported that the al Houthis launched an attack and added, “We have regained control of a mountain site in the al-Damaj area after heavy clashes with the Houthis during which 18 of the attackers were killed along with 16 of ours.”
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the May 25 suicide car bomb attack in al Hazm in al Jawf governorate, which killed at least 13 people in a communiqué posted on jihadist forums on June 1. The target of the attack was a group of al Houthis. AQAP also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Sa’ada, targeting an al Houthi march, that same day.
- Officials reported that the deputy governor of Dhaleh governorate, as well as the commander of the governorate’s Central Security Forces, survived an assassination attempt on June 3.
- The United States Embassy in Sana’a announced in a June 3 press release that the United States government will provide an additional $6.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen. This aid brings the total amount of humanitarian aid in Fiscal Year 2012 to almost $80 million. “This assistance includes protection, water and sanitation, emergency food aid, basic health services, and medical and other relief supplies to help over 550,000 internally displaced persons, over 215,000 refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa, conflict victims, and other vulnerable populations,” the press release states.
- Yemen’s Interior Ministry announced on June 3 that security services have increased their vigilance on Sana’a’s perimeter. Cars are to be inspected thoroughly to prevent the entry of terrorists into the city.
- Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested in Sana’a on June 3, marching down streets close to the presidential palace that were previously closed to them. They chanted against the relatives of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who remain in power and demanded that they be tried for violence against demonstrators.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- World leaders from 54 countries attended a conference in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss Somalia’s future on May 31 and June 1. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the attendees, urging the need for continued assistance for Somalia: “In the face of terrorism, piracy and drought, Somalia needs solidarity,” Ban said. At the end of the conference, a 40-point declaration was issued. The document affirms Somalia’s sovereignty and unity, reiterates the need for political transition in August 2012, the need for political reconciliation and the support of the international community in those efforts, the need for a centralized and professional security apparatus, and the establishment of a trust fund to help Somalia with reconstruction. Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, a militia fighting alongside the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against al Shabaab, called the conference “a waste of time.” The head of the group’s political section, Abdisalan Adan Hussein, said that the group was not invited until the last moment, which he viewed as an insult. Al Shabaab also came out against the conference; its spokesman, Ali Mohamed Rage, said that given the Turkish presence in Somalia, it is “clear” that Turkey seeks to colonize the country.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on June 2 by the Commission of the African Union (AU) and the Kenyan government at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The MoU “governs Kenya’s contribution of troops and resources to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).”
- Local residents reported that al Shabaab militants began to withdraw from Bula Burte town in Hiraan region on June 3. The development has caused civilians to flee the area, fearing imminent clashes.
- Al Shabaab posted a communiqué on jihadist forums on May 31 detailing its attacks against TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on May 29. Al Shabaab claimed that its forces had ambushed the presidential convoy five separate times and that it had killed “tens” of TFG and AMISOM soldiers.
- Al Shabaab warned that it would attack Kenyan skyscrapers in the next two weeks, according to private intelligence firm IntelCenter. “Two weeks from now you will weep,” the May 30 warning said. IntelCenter reported, “The towers most likely to be targeted are those housing hotels, especially those frequented by Westerners, government offices, media and prominent corporations. The building volume of threats and low-level activity indicate that such an attack may be attempted sooner rather than later.”
- TFG soldiers have been training in urban warfare at the Bihanga military camp in Uganda for the past six months under the tutelage of Ugandan and European Union instructors, the Agence France Press reported on June 3.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and al Shabaab militants reportedly clashed in Adeyley village in Galgudud region on June 2. Ahlu Sunna captured a 15-year-old boy and paraded him through nearby Elbur. The boy said that he had been forcibly conscripted into al Shabaab’s ranks.