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: Protests continue in Sana’a, hundreds of people in Ma’rib demand to be paid for attending Saleh’s speech March 10, security forces injure six protestors in Aden shooting; commission concludes parliamentary elections will have to be postponed to allow time to update voter registry; National Democratic Front Party announces support for Saleh’s reforms; EU official urges opposition to accept Saleh’s offer of dialogue; French official calls for dialogue and reform through a democratic process
Horn of Africa: Fighting in Mogadishu continues; Ahlu Sunna fighters and al Shabaab militants clash in the Galgudud region; Puntland pirates repel attempt to rescue Danish hostages; nine al Shabaab militants killed in landmine explosion; al Shabaab military spokesman accuses AMISOM of shelling residential areas; UN Security Council urges greater support for TFG and AMISOM; TFG PM warns that al Shabaab militants may hijack oil tankers; al Shabaab communiqué announces distribution of aid in the Galgudud region; al Shabaab fighters surrender to TFG and AMISOM forces; nearly 1,000 Kenyans demonstrate in Nairobi against al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Tens of thousands of people across Yemen demonstrated against President Saleh’s regime in what opposition groups called the “Friday of no return.” Thousands of anti-government supporters rallied outside of Sana’a University and an equal number of Saleh supporters gathered in Tahrir Square in the capital. In Ma’rib, hundreds of locals demanded to be paid for attending Saleh’s speech in Sana’a on March 10. A Ma’rib newspaper reported that attendees had been promised 50,000 Yemeni riyals, but when this was not distributed, the crowd began shouting “The people demand the fall of the regime.” Security forces in Aden opened fire on a group of anti-government protestors attempting to tear down photos of President Saleh, injuring at least six people.
- The Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum reviewed current voter registries and concluded that parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2011 will have to be postponed indefinitely to allow adequate time to update the voter registry.
- The National Democratic Front Party announced its full support for President Saleh’s latest offer of reforms and called on opposition coalition the Joint Meeting Parties to end protests and demonstrations and engage in dialogue with the government.
- EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton issued a statement in response to President Saleh’s latest initiative calling the offer “a step forward” and urging “all parties to engage without delay in an open and constructive dialogue, so that proposals are translated as soon as possible into concrete steps to respond to the demands of the people.”
- French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters at a press conference in Paris that the French government hopes that a “real, credible and acceptable process” will emerge in Yemen that “guarantees civil and political rights” and works toward a democratic solution to recent unrest.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab fighters attacked several Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM bases in Mogadishu. At least three people were killed when extremists launched a surprise attack on a TFG checkpoint along the road out of Mogadishu towards the Afgoi corridor. Heavy fighting was also reported in the Sigale neighborhood of the Hodan district and in the district of Hawl Wadag, particularly along Dabka road.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that at least eleven people have been killed in fighting between Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters and al Shabaab militants in the Galgudud region. Al Shabaab's military spokesman, Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab, claimed that al Shabaab forces still occupied strategic locations in the region and had killed over twenty Ahlu Sunna fighters.
- Pirates based in the Puntland city of Hul Anod repelled Puntland soldiers and security personnel who attempted to rescue seven Danish hostages being held by the group. At least five people were killed, several military vehicles were destroyed, and the hostages are believed to have been moved to a different location where they remain under armed guard.
- The Suna Times reported that nine al Shabaab militants were killed March 9 when a landmine they were placing on a bridge near Beledweyne exploded prematurely.
- Al Shabaab's military spokesman, Abdul Aziz Abu Mus'ab, spoke to reporters in Mogadishu and accused AMISOM forces of shelling civilian areas. Mus’ab also claimed that over 100 TFG and AMISOM soldiers had been killed in the fighting and encouraged Ahlu Sunna fighters to join al Shabaab. AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye Bahuko denied that AMISOM deliberately targets residential areas and warned Mogadishu youths and the elderly to avoid being conscripted into al Shabaab militias.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the UN Security Council and urged the international community to provide greater support to AMISOM and the TFG, asking for “more than authorized troop levels – they need actual troops, equipment and enhanced capacity.” The Security Council later issued a statement emphasizing “the importance of predictable, reliable and timely resources for AMISOM.”
- TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed warned the UN Security Council that Somalia faces “two evils, the scourge of piracy and the plague of terrorism,” adding that “not only are these two ills working in tandem, but they are learning from each other.” Mohamed also cautioned that “It will not surprise us if al Qaeda’s agents in Somalia start hijacking tankers in the high seas and use them as deadly weapons.”
- AU High Representative for Somalia Jerry Rawlings spoke to EU officials in Nairobi and said that the international community needs to create a coherent strategy for Somalia, provide more soldiers to AMISOM, increase aid and services available in areas under TFG and AMISOM control, and create a plan to allow militants to surrender their weapons and return home.
- Al Shabaab issued a communiqué through its media arm, the al Kata’ib Foundation for Media Production, announcing that the group’s aid committee had dispatched two trucks, each carrying 290 sacks of corn and 510 gallons of oil, to drought victims in the Galgudud region. The communiqué included photos of the trucks and of Sheikh Sultan Muhammad al Muhammad, the head of the aid committee.
- The Suna Times reported that thirty al Shabaab fighters have defected and surrendered to TFG and AMISOM forces over the course of recent fighting in Mogadishu and the surrounding regions.
- Nearly 1,000 Kenyans demonstrated in Nairobi against al Shabaab and called on the Kenyan government to take further steps to protect the country and prevent the violence in Somalia from spilling over into Kenya. Many waved Kenyan flags and carried placards reading “We are ready to defend Kenya.”