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: Airstrike kills AQAP militant; Yemeni soldiers kill at least 12 AQAP-linked militants; Yemeni, Saudi, Somali, and Sudanese militants are entering Zinjibar; Sharaab tribesmen control the city of Taiz following military withdrawal; Mullen warns unrest makes AQAP more dangerous; clash in Taiz towns kills three people; tribesmen reportedly  clashed with Yemeni security forces in Ibb governorate; Yemeni security forces reportedly fought off militants in al Bayda; Saudis link border incident to al Qaeda

Horn of Africa: CIA chief warns of cross-border al Shabaab attacks; TFG president and parliament speaker extend government’s mandate; Doctors Without Borders still denied access to Bay regions

Yemen Security Brief

  • The New York Times reported a U.S. airstrike killed midlevel al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative Abu Ali al Harithi in south Yemen, along with other militants, on June 3. U.S. officials reported an increase in intelligence on locations of militants, but also voiced concern over being fed information by rival groups. A senior Pentagon official said that AQAP militants have embedded themselves with other anti-government militants, making targeted strikes more difficult [1]
  • Yemeni troops reportedly killed 12 AQAP-linked militants in Abyan governorate's Doves and Kod districts, according to Defense Ministry officials. Three soldiers were reportedly wounded as troops continue to move towards Zinjibar, the governorate's capital.[2]
  • Reports indicate that Yemeni, Saudi, Somali, and Sudanese militants are entering Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. The militants are calling themselves “Ansar al Sharia” or Supporters of Islamic Law. A U.S. official said that “AQAP-affiliated” militants have had success in capturing Zinjibar, but do not control the entire governorate.[3]
  • Sharaab tribesmen control the city of Taiz after Yemeni military and security forces withdrew from the city. An estimated 1,200 tribesmen are in the city protecting protestors while an additional 3,000 men are in rural areas nearby to serve as reinforcements. Republican Guard units and security forces have regrouped outside the city.[4]
  • U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen identified AQAP as a "very virulent deadly federated point in the Al-Qaeda organization." Mullen urged all actors in Yemen to resolve the unrest, saying that AQAP "is incredibly dangerous and made that much more dangerous in the ongoing chaos...The downside of a much more chaotic and much more violent Yemen is not just bad for Yemen, it's bad for the region, it's bad for the world."[5]
  • The Yemen Post reported that Yemeni security forces clashed with gunmen in Maweah and Thikra in Taiz governorate. At least three civilians were killed and 13 others were wounded. Anti-government tribesmen are reportedly en route to Maweah and Thikra to engage loyalist troops.[6]
  • Zaid Thari, a ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party political advisor, reported that tribesmen clashed with security forces in Ibb governorate. Three soldiers were reportedly killed. Tribal fighters said they are protecting civilians from security forces.[7]
  • SABA News, the Yemeni state news agency, reported that Yemeni security forces defended the al Bayda governorate administrative complex from unidentified militants.[8]
  • Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry identified Abdullah bin Saleh al Sayel, who was convicted for al Qaeda activities in 2003, as the man killed in the June 7 border incident. The Saudis also connected Sayel's weapon to an attack in Burayda, the provincial capital of al Qassim, which was used to kill a Saudi military officer.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • CIA director Leon Panetta warned, "The threat from Al-Shebab to the US and Western interests in the Horn of Africa and to the US homeland is significant and on the rise...Al-Shebab leaders, who have claimed affiliation with Al-Qaeda since 2007, are developing ties with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and are showing an increasing desire to stage international terrorist attacks in addition to their acts of violence inside Somalia." Panetta also reported that al Shabaab is trying to recruit from the Somali diaspora throughout the U.S. and Europe. Panetta said that the Defense Department’s “ultimate goal is a fully integrated strategy under which security assistance, capacity building, operational collaboration with regional partners, and counter-terrorism actions are synchronized to provide the regional security.”[10]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden reached an agreement to extend the TFG’s mandate. According the agreement, national elections will need to be held before August 20, 2012. TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will tender his resignation within thirty days and the president will appoint a successor. Aden reportedly agreed to postpone elections in return for the prime minister’s resignation. UN Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga said, "This is a major breakthrough as we have basically agreed on not only deferring the elections but on putting in place a mechanism that will ensure the implementation of important transitional tasks that have to be complete in next 12 months."[11]
  • Doctors Without Borders reported that the TFG denied the group access to Buurhakaba district in Bay region in April and continues to deny them access. The group planned to truck water and food to the region as well as to assess nutrition for children under the age of five.[12]

[1] Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes," New York Times, June 8, 2011. Available:
[2] Ahmed al Haj, "Yemen government says 12 al-Qaida militants killed," AP, June 9, 2011. Available:
[3] Jeb Boone, "Militants said to gain ground in south Yemen," Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2011. Available:,0,6930797.story
[4] Farnaz Fassihi and Hakim Almasmari, "Yemeni Tribe Takes Key City," Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2011. Available:
[5] "Yemen turmoil makes Qaeda 'more dangerous': US Mullen," AFP, June 8, 2011. Available:
[6] “Taiz Clashes Expand to Neighboring Towns of Maweah and Thikra,” Yemen Post, June 8, 2011. Available:
[7] “Fierce Clashes in Ibb Province,” Yemen Post, June 8, 2011. Available:
[8] Jamal al Jaberi, "US warns Qaeda thriving in Yemen turmoil," AFP, June 8, 2011. Available:
[9] "Saudi: Al-Qaida gunman killed 2 at Yemen border," AP, June 9, 2011. Available:
[10] "Advance Policy Questions," U.S. Senate, June 9, 2011. Available:
[11] "Somali transitional leaders extend terms by a year," AFP, June 9, 2011. Available:
"Somali leaders agree to postpone elections by a year to fix security and political issues," AP, June 9, 2011. Available:
[12] "MSF is denied access to drought-affected areas," Doctors Without Borders, June 8, 2011. Available:
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