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:U.S. warns about AQAP plots; AQAP releases video on al Houthis; GCC secretary-general backs Yemeni opposition; explosion in ammunitions factory kills over 100 people, suspected AQAP militants in control of Jaar, Abyan; AQAP suspected in military police checkpoint killings in Ma’rib; talks between Saleh and General Ahmar collapse; vice president claims opposition hindering resolution; Saleh announces he will give no more concessions; fifteen people injured in protests in Ibb; Hashid tribe leader warns Saleh of assassination attempts; General People’s Congress drafting new constitution
Horn of Africa:Uganda’s president questions international involvement in Libya, not Somalia; fighting in Bondhere region kills two people; Ethiopian forces close the Ogaden border; TFG prime minister plans to replace ministers; TFG creates new prayer law; director and editor of Shabelle Media network detained by TFG; General Secretary of Banadir regional administration calls Bakara Market “butcher”; Former mayor of Mogadishu Mohammed Dhere released from jail; three people killed in violence in Jungal neighborhood; TFG defense minister visits army base in Jazeera; eight civilians die in Hawl Wadag and Hodan districts; elders accuse Ahlu Sunna of murder; Ahlu Sunna announces it will use force to open roads in Gedo region
Yemen Security Brief
- U.S. officials warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen were “beyond the planning phase” for an attack to be carried amidst the chaos in the country. No further details were disclosed.
- AQAP’s media arm, al Malahem Foundation, released a video onto jihadist forums on March 25, 2011 entitled, “May You be Victorious, O People of the Sunnah.” AQAP’s deputy leader, Said al Shihri, appeared in the video discussing the al Houthis’ criminal acts against Sunni Yemenis. Shihri said the al Houthis’ “animosity and weapons were carried only against the people of the Sunnah.”
- Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdulrahman al Attiyah stated: “We respect the choices of the Yemeni people to support security and stability and national unity."
- Explosions in an ammunitions factory in the Abyan province town of Jaar killed at least 110 people. The source of the blasts is unknown, but officials suspect a cigarette ignited the explosion. The day before the blast, 30 hooded unidentified gunmen raided the factory and drove off with weapons. A local government official said suspected al Qaeda militants took control of the building along with several others on Monday after confrontation with government military forces.
- Al Qaeda militants were suspected in an attack at a military police checkpoint in Ma’rib governorate. Six people were killed, including three officers and three soldiers, and eight others injured.
- Talks between President Saleh and General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar on the handing over of power were halted after insults and threats erupted during negotiations on Saturday. General Ahmar stated that the opposition had created a five-point plan for the peaceful transition of power to a caretaker government. Saleh agreed to the plans but backtracked on the deal after General Ahmar added that he must leave the country. The Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution of Change has refused talks on transferring power to President Saleh’s vice president and has called for continued demonstrations in Sana’a.
- Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi issued a report claiming the best way to address unrest would be forming a national unity government. He also claimed that the rigidity of the opposition movement has hampered the government’s ability to address current situation of unrest.
- President Saleh announced that he would not give any more concessions. Saleh commented on the opposition saying: “Democracy means that people breathe and talk reasonably within national principles, but they went too far and misunderstood democracy.” He also warned that the Joint Meeting Party, al Qaeda, defected military forces and al Houthi rebels were a unified force working against the government and the majority of the Yemeni people.
- A women’s rally in Ibb governorate demanding President Saleh to step down was confronted by pro-government thugs on Sunday. The pro-government forces hurled rocks at the protestors and took cameras from reporters. Fifteen people were injured.
- Leader of the Hashid tribe Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar sent a message to President Saleh informing him of assassination plots targeting politicians and businessmen.
- Yemen’s ruling party the General People’s Congress proposed drafting a new constitution based around the President Saleh’s proposed reforms and a parliamentary system.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni drew parallels to events in Libya with the crisis in Somalia, which he feels has been ignored. He stated: “The Western countries always use double standards. In Libya, they are very eager to impose a no-fly-zone. In Bahrain and other areas where there are pro-Western regimes, they turn a blind eye to the very same conditions or even worse conditions. We have been appealing to the UN to impose a no-fly-zone over Somalia so as to impede the free movement of terrorists, linked to Al-Qaeda, that killed Americans on September 11th, killed Ugandans last July and have caused so much damage to the Somalis, without success. Why? Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi? Or is it because Somalia does not have oil which is not fully controlled by the western oil companies on account of Gaddafi’s nationalist posture?”
- Fighting between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and al Shabaab killed at least two people and injured three others in Bondhere district of Mogadishu.
- Ethiopian forces closed the Ogaden border with Galgudud region after trucks carrying livestock from Berbera were halted on their way to Somaliland.
- Somalia’s TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullah has plans to replace ministers of Home Affairs, Industry, and the Deputy Minister of Youth, Sports, and Labor, Garowe News reported. The Prime Minister cited the ministers’ poor performance as the reason they should be replaced. A larger cabinet reshuffling is reportedly in the works.
- The TFG has enacted a new law that forces businesses to close during Friday prayer time in Mogadishu. Some businessmen have complained the new law is similar to al Shabaab’s strict rules.
- Director of Shabelle Media Network Abdirashid Omar Qase and editor Abdi Mohammed Isma’il were taken into custody by TFG forces after they reported that President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed “failed” to visit the fighting in Mogadishu after his convoy was fired on by al Shabaab insurgents. Elders from the Hawiye condemned the arrests saying a crackdown on media is not needed and Chairman of the Parliaments’ information committee has made requests to the TFG to release the two men.
- General Secretary of Banadir regional administration Abdikafi Hilowle Mohamoud called Bakara market “the butcher where Somali people are decapitated.” He claimed that some businessmen in the area fund al Shabaab and promised the Transitional Federal Government would rid Bakara of the insurgents.
- Former mayor of Mogadishu Mohammed Dhere was released from jail and acquitted of charges against him. Dhere was arrested on February 16th, 2011 by AMISOM forces for alleged involvement in the killing of twelve Somalis attending a peaceful rally in Mogadishu.
- As violence in Mogadishu continued on Sunday, artillery shelling killed three civilians, including two boys and a woman in Jungal neighborhood, and injured many more.
- Al Shabaab rebels organized security searches in Gedo region where at least ten individuals were arrested. At least seven people were arrested for allegedly selling banned qat in the town of Baidoa in the Bay region. Two of those detained were released.
- Defense Chiefs from Burundi and Uganda, Major General Godefroid Niyombare and General Aronda Nyakairima, announced that they will commit an additional 3,000 troops to African Union forces operating in Somalia.
- TFG Minister of Defense Abdihakim Hajji Mohamoud Fiqi visited an army base in the town of Jazeera to encourage troops in their efforts against al Shabaab and to warn them against committing acts of violence toward civilians. There are over 850 TFG soldiers training in Jazeera.
- Fighting between al Shabaab and TFG forces backed by AMISOM troops on Friday left at least eight civilians dead and fourteen wounded. The violence occurred in the Mogadishu districts of Hawl Wadag and Hodan.
- Elders from Gedo region accused Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters of planning and executing the murders of a fourteen year old boy, a man, and a number of others in the town of Beled Hawo. The elders requested that Ahlu Sunna officials address their complaints and stop the killings of civilians.
- Two individuals were detained and one killed after a security crackdown by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a forces in the town of Abudwaq in Galgudud region. An official of the group reported the seizure of several vehicles that were in violation of recent security regulations.
- Ahlu Sunna spokesman Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al Qadi stated that Ahlu Sunna fighters will use force to reopen roads closed by al Shabaab in Gedo region.