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: Northern al Houthi rebels kill government collaborator; improved security in northern Yemen allows UN to reopen aid office; Saleh says Yemen making progress against al Qaeda; over 100 Somali refugees detained in Yemen; 20 protesters wounded in clash with police in Dhale; Yemeni government says al Houthi rebels push locals to jihad against the U.S.; U.S. Congressional delegation meets with Yemeni officials
Horn of Africa: Fighting erupts overnight in Mogadishu; Hawiye clan elder assassinated in Mogadishu; Somali businessman killed by South African gangs; al Shabaab opposes deal reached between TFG and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a solves internal rift after TFG deal; UN links TFG and rebel forces to Kenya; TFG official dies in landmine blast; al Shabaab takes over radio stations; Dutch navy disarms 12 Somali pirates; Somali pirates hijack Iranian ship
Yemen Security Brief
- Rebels aligned with al Houthi rebels opened fire on two men suspected of collaborating with the government in Sa’ada, marking one of the first major incidents of violence since the ceasefire between the two sides was agreed to in early February. The government committee overseeing the truce said the incident was isolated and that they did not expect further acts of violence.
- The security situation in northern Yemen has improved enough to reopen aid offices according the U.N. The U.N. closed its office in Sa’ada in August due to escalating violence, but fighting has subsided since the ceasefire agreed to last month. The reopening of the Sa’ada office will allow the U.N. better access to the 250,000 displaced persons in the region.
- President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday that Yemen was making progress in their fight against al Qaeda militants in the country, but that some media outlets were overstating the threat. President Saleh attributed Yemen’s success in fighting al Qaeda to its cooperation with GCC countries as well as the United States and the EU.
- Over 100 Somali refugees were arrested by Yemeni authorities in two separate incidents on Saturday. 72 Somalis were detained in the coastal regions of Broom, Taiz, and Hadramawt, while 43 others were captured before they entered the country. All the detained Somalis were taken to refugee camps in the south of the country.
- 20 protesters were wounded in the southern Yemeni city of Dhale when police broke up a demonstration marking the funeral of another protester killed last week. Police reportedly fired directly into a crowd of protesters, causing the injuries. In addition, local officials were arrested, including the director of the Social and Labor Affairs Office and the director of the Education Office.
- Local government sources in Sa’ada said al Houthis were encouraging citizens to take up jihad against the U.S., in addition to collecting Zakat for the rebel movement instead of turning it over to the government. [Editor’s note: this is an unconfirmed report.]
- A US Congressional delegation visited Yemen on Saturday for meetings with Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to discuss economic and political reform, as well as counterterrorism cooperation. Senators Jon Kyl, Saxby Chambliss and Roger Wicker, as well as Congressmen Mac Thornberry and Jane Harman constituted the delegation.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Fighting erupted in Mogadishu overnight between Islamist rebels and AU-backed TFG forces. The fighting took place on Makka al Mukarrama Street, an essential road that connects the presidential palace to the airport, after Islamist rebels attacked TFG bases and AU troops.
- Mohamed Jimale, a Hawiye clan elder, was killed in his home in Lafole by unidentified gunmen. The gunmen escaped after the killing and Mohamed Hassan Haad, chairman of Hawiye Clan Elders, denounced the killing and described it as a brutal and un-Islamic action.
- A Somali businessman was killed and ten others injured by African gangs in South Africa.
- Islamist rebel group al Shabaab opposes the deal reached between the Somali government and the Sufi Islamist group Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. Sheik Ali Mohamed Hussein, the al Shabaab governor of the Banadir regions, stated the alliance between the two sides would not affect al Shabaab and the group will be able to defend against them and any additional forces.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a solved an internal rift between top officials within the group following the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Somali government. A series of disagreements have spawned as a result of the deal; however, the group has been able to reach a “concrete agreement” amongst itself.
- The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia has stated that links exist between Kenya and both TFG forces and Somali Islamist rebels in its latest report. The report states Kenya serves as “a major base” for Somali rebels and trains TFG forces. The report also indicates about half of al Shabaab’s foreign fighters in Somalia are Kenyan nationals.
- TFG District Commissioner of Hamar Jajab in Mogadishu, Ahmed Sheik Mohamed Odawa, known as Qorleh, was killed in a landmine blast targeted at his vehicle as it was traveling around the Afisyone neighborhood near the airport. Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the assassination.
- Hundreds of Somali protestors, mostly women and children, have gathered in the streets of Mogadishu in protest of al Shabaab and in support of the UN-backed Somali government. Protestors cited their grievances as the recent tomb desecrations, use of foreign fighters, and the violence which has forced Somalis out of their homes.
- Al Shabaab closed a radio station in the southern city of Kismayo and captured one in Baydhaba in southwestern Somalia, using both for personal use.
- The Dutch army disarmed 12 pirates off the coast of Somalia, as it lured them into attacking a warship.
- Somali pirates hijacked an Iranian vessel off the Yemeni coast carrying $4 million worth of Egyptian oranges. The vessel was seized in route from Egypt to Iran.