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: Saleh proposes new constitution and offers to transfer power to parliament by 2012, opposition quickly rejects offer; two AQAP militants killed in shootout with tribesmen in Sa’ada; Yemeni government to increase security forces in areas with high AQAP activity; parliament submits recommendations to curb unrest; independent committee finishes investigation of Sana’a prison riot
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab recruits local residents in Bay and Bakool regions; TFG officials meet with elders in the Gedo region; al Shabaab taxes businessmen in Kismayo; TFG soldiers and al Shabaab militants clash in the Elwaq district of the Gedo region; al Shabaab militants abduct Beledweyne businessman; TFG official asks refugees to come home, urges Kenya to reopen border with Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- President Saleh proposed wide reforms but opposition spokesman Yaseen Saeed No'man quickly rejected the offer, saying that “these proposals have been overtaken by realities on the ground. Had the ruling party offered this six months ago, it would have been different. It’s too late now.” Saleh’s personal website reported that the reforms included an offer to form a committee composed of MPs, Shura Council members and youth leaders to draft a new constitution “based on separation of powers” by the end of 2011. Saleh also offered to transfer power to an elected parliament and reorganize Yemen’s 22 provinces into larger regional blocs to provide greater support to poorer areas.
- At least two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed in a shootout with members of the Tais tribe in the Kutaf district of Sa’ada governorate. The Yemen Post reported that the shooting occurred at a funeral for an AQAP militant who was killed by Yemeni security forces.
- The Yemen Times reported that the Yemeni government plans to unveil a new counterterrorism strategy at the Friends of Yemen meeting later this month. The new approach will focus on expandingthe presence of security forces in governorates with high levels of AQAP activity, including Hadramawt, Ma’rib, Abyan and Shabwah.
- The Yemeni Parliament issued a number of recommendations concerning recent events across the country. The Parliament dispatched Interior Minister Mutahar al Masri to meet with protestors in Aden, created a committee to investigate riots at the Central Prison in Sana’a, and empowered the Education Ministry to take action to prevent anti-government protestors from closing schools.
- The Yemen Times reported that an independent committee of human rights activists formed to investigate recent riots at Central Prison in Sana’a concluded that guards killed at least two prisoners and denied medical care to other wounded inmates.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants in the Bay and Bakool regions have begun an extensive recruiting campaign and have forced hundreds of local residents to join their militias. Mo’allim Mohamed, an al Shabaab official in the area, told Shabelle Media Network that the recruitment drive was going well and urged all residents in the area to take up arms against AMISOM and the TFG.
- TFG officials met with local elders from the Luq district of the Gedo region and promised to restore public services and facilities in the district. TFG soldiers recently forced al Shabaab militants to abandon the area.
- Ahmed Ismail, an al Shabaab official in Kismayo, ordered traders operating in the Kismayo meat market to pay $1500 to al Shabaab within two days or face punishment. Many traders said that they would have to close their businesses or flee the area as they could not pay the tax.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that tensions remain high in the Elwaq district of the Gedo region after a brief skirmish broke out between TFG soldiers and al Shabaab militants. Several TFG soldiers were injured but no deaths have been reported.
- Al Shabaab militants in the town of Beledweyne in the Hiraan region seized local businessman Alim Barkhadle from his jail cell, where he had been imprisoned on charges of spying for the TFG, and moved him to an unknown location, according to local residents.
- Abdirasid Hussein Abdinur, a TFG official in the Gedo region, spoke to Shabelle Media Network and urged residents and businessmen who fled the town of Beled Hawo to return and reopen their businesses, promising that TFG forces would protect the area against possible al Shabaab counterattacks. Abdinur also asked the Kenyan government to reopen the border with Somalia to allow residents of Beledweyne and other border towns who fled into Kenya to return home.