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: Airstrikes kill AQAP militants in Shabwah; United Nations Security Council expresses concern about Yemen instability; Ansar al Sharia commander interviewed about the al Houthis; soldiers demonstrate against their commander in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants attack police station north of Mogadishu; heavy gunfire and artillery exchanges between TFG and al Shabaab on the outskirts of Mogadishu; AMISOM reports that it has captured Mogadishu’s Daynile district; al Shabaab militants launch assault in Hiraan region; TFG refutes Human Rights Watch claims of human rights violations

Yemen Security Brief

  • Airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members in ‘Azzan in Shabwah governorate killed at least four militants. Yemeni military officials report that the United States carried out the strikes. Separately, an intelligence officer was gunned down in Aden’s Darim district, along with another individual. A member of the men’s tribe said the attack was a reprisal attack by AQAP after their tribe drove AQAP and Ansar al Sharia out of Mudia in Abyan governorate.[1]
  • A United Nations Security Council presidential statement praised the political transition underway in Yemen, but also expressed concern that that progress would be hindered by the lack of cooperation between political actors. It said that the second half of political transition should include a national dialogue, military restructuring, gun control, constitutional and electoral reform, and general elections in 2014. The Security Council also expressed its concerns about terrorism and affirms that it stands behind the government in its fight against it.[2]
  • In an interview posted on jihadist forums on March 28, Ansar al Sharia field commander Abu Hafs al Yafi’i, also known as Abu Hafs al Dawudi, discussed his group’s battles with the al Houthi rebels in Sa’ada governorate. Yafi’i is Ansar al Sharia’s commander in Kitaf in Sa’ada governorate. He said that the main reason for the fighting between the al Houthis on one side and Ansar al Sharia and the tribes on the other is the assaults by the al Houthis on students at the Salafist academy in Damaj. He admitted that the mujahideen often go into battle poorly trained and even without weapons. Yafi’i also claimed that Ansar al Sharia has arrested Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah members who had been training the al Houthis.[3] 
  • Dozens of soldiers from the 314th Brigade demonstrated on March 29 in Sana’a, cutting off one of the city’s streets. The soldiers were calling for the resignation of their commander, Brigadier General Mohammed Khalil. They accused Khalil of cutting their financial benefits after they had demanded an increase, and of looting money due to them for years. The soldiers refused to be replaced by other men on March 14.[4]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Suspected al Shabaab fighters attacked a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) police station overnight in Heliwa district, north of Mogadishu. Two people were killed during the fighting.[5]
  • TFG forces and al Shabaab militants exchanged gunfire and fired artillery in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district. The number of casualties is not known.[6]
  • The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced that it has captured Mogadishu’s Daynile district after a fierce battle with al Shabaab. One Burundian soldier was killed in the fighting.[7]
  • Al Shabaab fighters attacked Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a bases in Mahas in Hiraan region. Ahlu Sunna was forced briefly to retreat, but returned to the village and claimed to have repulsed al Shabaab. The militant group withdrew from Mahas on March 25.[8]  
  • Human Rights Watch accused Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and the Shabelle Valley Administration, both pro-TFG militias, of summarily executing, abusing, and detaining anyone suspected to be an al Shabaab sympathizer in a March 28 report. The TFG has refuted these claims.[9]        

Ahmed al Haj, “Yemen: Airstrikes Kill 4 al-Qaida Militants,” AP, March 30, 2012. Available:
[2] Sir Mark Lyall Grant, “UN Security Council Presidential Statement on Yemen,” United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, March 29, 2012. Available:
[3] “Ansar al-Shariah Official in Kitaf Interviewed about Houthis,” SITE Intelligence Unit, March 29, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] “Soldiers from the 314th Brigade Cut Off a Street in Sana’a Demanding the Resignation of their Commander,” Al Masdar Online, March 29, 2012. Available:
[5] “Attack at Police Station in Mogadishu Kills Two People,” Shabelle Media Network, March 29, 2012. Available:
[6] “Heavy Shelling Reported in Parts of Mogadishu,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 30, 2012. Available:
[7] “Al-Shabab Loses New Grounds to AU Forces in Mogadishu,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 30, 2012. Available:
[8] “Al Shabaab Attacks Ahlu Sunna Bases in Mahas Town,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 30, 2012. Available:
[9]  “Somalia: Pro-Government Militias Executing Civilians,” Human Rights Watch, March 28, 2012. Available:
“TFG Denies Human Rights Watch Claims,” Garowe Online, March 30, 2012. Available:
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