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: At least 52 dead after Friday’s protest; top military commanders and government officials step down in support of anti-government protestors; Hashid tribal leader backs opposition; government forces clash with al Houthi rebels in al Jawf; al Jazeera reporters removed from country for ”illegal” behavior

Horn of Africa: Ethiopia warns Eritrea; al Shabaab calls for youths to attend training camps; TFG defense minister says countries offered to deploy troops; clashes continue in Mogadishu; Ethiopian troops leave Gedo region; fighting in Dhobley leaves ten dead and al Shabaab in control, al Shabaab accuses Kenya of involvement; Dif village is deserted by al Shabaab; Puntland Attorney General survives roadside bomb attack; al Shabaab statement describes punishment of convicted adulterers, clan meeting

Yemen Security Review

  • Three army commanders, Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, Brigadier General Mohammed Ali Mohsen and Brigadier General Hameed al Qusaibi, resigned their posts on Monday in support of the opposition protestors. Al Ahmar, a confidant of President Saleh, stated: "We announce our peaceful support for the peaceful revolution of the youth and their demands and we carry out our duty ... in ensuring security and stability in the capital." The 1st Armored Division, headed by Major General al Ahmar, is reportedly stationed near the protestors. Republican Guard armored personnel carriers and tanks, under the command of President Saleh’s son, Ahmed, have been deployed to the presidential palace on the outskirts of Sana’a.[1]
  • Leader of the President Saleh’s own Hashid tribe Sheikh Sadeq al Ahmar announced his support for the government opposition, joining his brother who came out in support of the opposition earlier. This will likely further destabilize President Saleh.[2]
  • Clashes between al Houthi rebels and government troops alongside loyal tribesmen in the northern al Jawf governorate killed twenty people. The government troops were attempting to take back the military site that al Houthi rebels had seized on Sunday. A tribal source reports that a military aircraft sent to attack the rebels was shot down. Yemeni authorities report that a “military training aircraft” crashed in the governorate.[3]
  • Thousands of civilians assembled in Sana’a on Saturday for a day of mourning over those killed on Friday’s protest. The crowd repeated, “Martyrs, rest in peace. We will not rest until the killers are brought to justice” as the caskets of thirty-four protestors passed by.[4]  
  • On Saturday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired his cabinet after government officials resigned. Prime Minister Ali Mujawar’s administration will continue to serve until replacements are selected. Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations will be replaced by Jamal Abdullah al-Salal.[5]
  • After Friday’s protests in Sana’a where at least 52 protestors were killed, government officials including the Minister of Tourism Nabil Hasan al Fiqh, Ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Alsaidi, ambassadors to Syria, Lebanon, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, Minister of Human Rights Huda  al Ban and her deputy, along with 24 parliament members stepped down from their positions. Saba newspaper’s editor in chief Nasr Taha Mustafa as well as editors from two other government operated newspapers also resigned. On Saturday the cabinet called for an investigation over the deaths of the demonstrators that President Saleh denied.[6]
  • At least 13 people were injured in Aden on Saturday when police fired live rounds and tear gas at protestors’ camps in Mualla. Thousands of demonstrators left the camp and attempted to seize a nearby police station. Locals report that protestors have expelled security forces from Dar Saad, which is considered the gateway to Aden city.[7]
  • Two al Jazeera reporters, Ahmed Zidan and Abdulhaq Saddah, were forced to leave Yemen after the government accused them of illegal behavior. A Ministry of Information official claimed the reporters had “provoked the people of Yemen,” a reference to Friday’s protest. A local photojournalist working for al Masdar was among those killed during protests on Friday.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Review

  • Ethiopia’s foreign ministry warned Eritrea that it would take “all measures necessary” against the country if it continues to support rebel groups.  Ethiopia has accused Eritrea of arming domestic rebel groups and of supporting al Shabaab in Somalia.[9]
  • Al Shabaab governor of Lower Shabelle region Sheikh Mohammed Abu Abdullah called for youths to attend the regional training camps.  One camp is in Laanta Buro village, outside of Afgoi, about 40 km south of Mogadishu. The training camps provide weapons to fighters and teach courses on improvised explosive device (IED) construction. Abdullah also announced the opening of a training camp for elders.[10]
  • The Defense Minister for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Abdihakim Mohamud Fiqi, said that Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Djibouti had offered to deploy troops to Somalia as part of AMISOM.[11]
  • Clashes between African troops and al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu on Sunday left at least one dead and seven others injured. [12]
  • Ethiopian troops pulled out of the Gedo region towns of Beled Hawo and Luq and returned to Ethiopia on Sunday.[13]
  • Fighting broke out in the al Shabaab controlled town of Dhobley in Lower Jubba region as Somali forces returned from training in Kenya. The clash resulted in the deaths of at least ten and injured five others. Al Shabaab remained in control of Dhobley. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, claimed that Kenyan forces aided Somali troops in Dhobley.  “We can assure that Kenyan forces were aiding the TFG and its allied militias attacked us and we defeated them,” he said. “The Kenyan forces also shelled the town they targeted civilian houses.”[14]
  • The Lower Jubba region of Dif was deserted on Saturday by al Shabaab fighters that had claimed the territory the previous week. No fighting had occurred in the village to force al Shabaab out. Locals speculated that the threat of gathering Somali forces on the outskirts of Dif influenced the group’s decision to vacate.[15]
  • Deputy Minister of Sports and Labor Abdirashid Mohammed Hidig reported that Somali troops were in the Lower Jubba region and were prepared to take on al Shabaab. He also announced plans for TFG forces to take the village of Dif. On Mogadishu, Hidig said, “Bakara is a military base of the rebel groups; they are responsible for the closure of Bakara Market, not AMISOM and Somali Transitional Federal Government.”[16]
  • Puntland Attorney General Mohamoud Hassan Aw Osman narrowly escaped injury after a remote controlled roadside bomb detonated outside of his vehicle on Saturday in the city of Galkayo. At least four people were injured in the attack that Puntland authorities believe al Shabaab to be behind.[17] 
  • Al Shabaab released a statement describing the punishment of two adulterers in Sako in the Lower Jubba region. The group also described a meeting in Banadir region with Mudulud clan elders in which the elders agreed to support al Shabaab until foreign troops left the country.[18]

[1] “Yemeni Army Commanders Defect to Protestors,” MSNBC, March 21, 2011. Available:  
Ahmed al Haj, “Rival Tanks Deploy in Streets of Yemen’s Capital after Powerful General Defects to Opposition,” Associated Press, March 21, 2011. Available:
[2] Laura Kasinof, “Senior Yemeni Officers Back Protestors,” New York Times, March 21, 2011. Available:
[3] “Fighting Kills 20 in Yemen,” News 24, March 21, 2011.  Available:
“Fighting kills 20 in Yemen’s north,” Straits Times, March 21, 2011. Available:
“Yemen president sacks cabinet, protestors bury dead,” Reuters, March 20, 2011. Available:
[4] Mohammad Hatem, “Yemen’s Saleh Dismisses Cabinet as Deaths Spur Regime Defections,” Bloomberg, March 20, 2011. Available:
[5] Mohammad Hatem, “Yemen’s Saleh Dismisses Cabinet as Deaths Spur Regime Defections," Bloomberg, March 20, 2011. Available:
[6] “Opposition leaders join Yemen protest,” UPI, March 19, 2011. Available:
 Laura Kasinof, “Senior Yemeni Officers Back Protestors,” New York Times, March 21, 2011. Available:  
Mohammad Hatem, “Yemen’s Saleh Dismisses Cabinet as Deaths Spur Regime Defections,” Bloomberg, March 20, 2011. Available:
“Yemeni  minister resigns over killing of protestors,” Sify News, March 19, 2011. Available:
“Yemen president sacks cabinet, protestors bury dead,” Reuters, March 20, 2011. Available:
[7] “Yemen’s US-backed Leader Fails to Stop Uprising Despite More Violence Against Demonstrators,” Associated Press, March 19, 2011.  Available:
[9] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopia Warns of Action Against Eritrea,” Reuters, March 19, 2011.  Available:
[10] “Somalia: Shabab Declares New Training Camps for Voluntary Jihadists,” Raxenreeb Broadcasting Corporation, March 20, 2011.  Available:
“Al Shabaab opens training for 460 senior citizens,” Bar Kulan, March 21, 2011. Available: 
[11] “Minister: More States Ready to Send Troops to Somalia,” Africa Review, March 21, 2011.  Available:
[12]  “Clashes between Somali army, al Shabaab erupts in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, March 20, 2011. Available: 
[13] “Ethiopian forces vacate from Luq, Belet Hawo regions,” Shabelle Media Network, March 20, 2011. Available:
[14] “Heavy clashes erupt in Dhobley, al Shabaab is still in control,” Shabelle Media Network, March 20, 2011. Available:
Abdalle Ahmed, “Somalia: Shabab Spokesman Says Kenyan Forces Fight in Dhobley,” Raxanreeb Broadcasting Corporation, March 20, 2011.  Available:
[15] “Al Shabaab deserts a village in southern Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, March 19, 2011. Available:
[16] “Somali govt: Our forces are heading to Jubba regions,” Shabelle Media Network, March 19, 2011. Available:
“Somali Minister Says Bakara Market is the Stronghold of al-Shabab Fighters,” Mareeg Online, March 19, 2011.  Available:
[17] “Somalia: Puntland official narrowly escapes roadside bomb attack,” Shabelle Media Network, March 19, 2011. Available:  
[18] “Shabaab Punishes Adulterers, Convenes Meeting with Tribal Chiefs,” SITE Intel Group, March 18, 2011.  Available at SITE.
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