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 forces strike suspected al Qaeda sites for second straight day; AQAP confirms one of its top fundraisers killed by Yemeni forces; Yemeni Navy detains Iranian ship off Socotra; southern separatist killed at checkpoint in Abyan; al Houthi rebellion forces desertion of Sa’ada; five bodies found near kidnap-site in northern Yemen; prominent Yemenis condemn raid on al Jazeera and al Arabiya offices; journalist rights group condemns treatment of jailed journalist in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Yemen to open diplomatic office in Somaliland; clan fighting kills 20; Kenyan officials detaining Somalis lacking papers in border town; Eritrea aided Somali rebels last year; State Department: U.S. has no plans to coordinate Somali offensive; charcoal revenues fund rebels in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemen carried out a series of three air strikes against alleged al Qaeda suspects in Abyan province for the second straight day. On Sunday, the government said they had killed two top al Qaeda militants in a similar strike in Abyan. Abyan has also been the location of intense secessionist protests and clashes with Yemeni authorities over the past month.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has confirmed that one of its top financers and smugglers, Abi Jandal al Qassimi, was killed by Yemeni security forces. According to al Malahim Media Foundation, the media wing of AQAP, al Qassimi, a Saudi commander for AQAP, was responsible for raising funds in Saudi Arabia for militant activity in Yemen. The report by AQAP did not specify when exactly al Qassimi was killed, but indicated that he had survived attacks as late as January.
- Yemen has detained an Iranian vessel that reportedly illegally entered Yemeni waters off the coast of the island of Socotra. The Yemeni Defense Ministry issued a statement that indicated that the boat may have been smuggling drugs into Yemen. The crew was made up of 15 Pakistani sailors and an Iranian captain.
- A separatist rebel was killed Sunday by Yemeni security forces at a security checkpoint in Abyan province following an exchange of gunfire. State officials described Wale Juneidy as a dangerous leader of a criminal gang driving a stolen car, while a separatist website claims he was shot after he resisted arrest at the checkpoint.
- An early report on the war between Yemeni government forces and al Houthi rebels in the northern region of the country says that the town of Sa’ada was largely destroyed, rendering it uninhabitable for many of its former residents. The report indicates that 36% of all property in the town was damaged by the conflict.
- The bodies of five people have been recovered in Yemen, although authorities believe they are not the five Germans or Briton that are believed to have been kidnapped by a group with links to al Qaeda. The Yemeni government said they are testing the DNA of the bodies, but that they are likely Somalis.
- The Yemeni Journalism Syndicate and several opposition lawmakers held a sit-in to protest the Yemeni government’s raid on al Jazeera and al Arabiya’s offices in Sana’a. An opposition MP, Abdul Razak al Hajri, called on Parliament to question the Minister of Information, Hassan al Lawzi, over the seizure.
- The International Federation of Journalist condemned the Yemeni government for the “brutal inhumanity” in their treatment of Mohammed al Maqaleh, the imprisoned editor of an opposition newspaper. Mr. al Maqaleh has been detained since September when he reported that civilians had been targeted in a government airstrike.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- On Sunday, Yemen sent a four man delegation to the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa to open an official diplomatic office. The move is the latest step in a pattern of cooperation between the two governments that has seen increasing political and economic ties. The Yemeni government is also worried about Islamist rebels located in Somalia after al Shabaab pledged to send aid to al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
- Clan violence in the Mudug region of Somalia intensified when 20 members of two clans were killed on Saturday. Fighting in the villages of Amara and Ba’adweyn has resulted in numerous deaths in clan-related disputes over the past several months. The TFG said it had prepared a committee to mediate the conflict between both sides.
- Kenyan border guards have begun to detain young Somalis in the town of Mandere, which sits just across the border from Somalia. Young Somalis lacking proper identification and Kenyan sponsors were said to be the target of soldiers’ searching door to door in the town.
- According to a new UN report, as late as 2009, the Eritrean government was providing aid to rebel groups in Somalia. Eritrean support would have violated a 2008 UN Security Council resolution that barred aid to Somali rebel groups. The report concluded that while Eritrea has scaled down its military assistance to rebels, it still provides consistent political, diplomatic, and financial aid to the opposition groups.
- Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said Friday that the United States has had no involvement in planning, directing, or coordinating of an upcoming military offensive by TFG forces and its AU allies. The transitional government is believed to be preparing to oust Islamist rebels from the Somali capital of Mogadishu in attempt to regain control of the city.
- Islamist rebel groups in Somalia, including al Shabaab, are believed to be using illegal charcoal exports to fund their ongoing insurgency against the TFG. Rebels are believed to cut down trees to turn into charcoal, and then sell shipments to local businessmen that export it to the Gulf states. Al Shabaab is known to control three ports in the south of the country.