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 arrest 11 al Qaeda suspects; clashes between police and separatists leaves three dead in southern Yemen; Yemeni government apologizes for civilian casualties in the south; government ready to talk to southern separatist leaders; U.S. official says southern movement is an internal matter for Yemen; northern Yemen faces difficulties after ceasefire; Saudi claims to have arrested more than 5,500 Yemeni “infiltrators” along its border
Horn of Africa: New Somali party formed in the UK; al Shabaab destroys graves in Baidoa; Somali pirates expand attacks to land; former Mogadishu mayor accuses al Shabaab of “clan favor” in banning WFP; transferring money through mobile phones provides Somalis safety during conflict; TFG against recognition of Somaliland as independent state
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni security forces arrested 11 al Qaeda suspects in Sana’a. A raid on the home of an alleged al Qaeda member prompted a gunfight which killed the father of one of the suspects.
- One member of a southern Yemeni separatist group was killed in a clash with police as the separatist tried to replace the Yemeni flag with the flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen at the local government headquarters in Radfan in Lahij province. In a separate incident in Mayfah in Shabwah province, two policemen were killed in a confrontation with separatists.
- Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs Rashed al Aleemi apologized on Wednesday for civilian casualties incurred by government forces in an operation in Abyan province in late 2009. MPs charged the government with a reckless approach towards the safety of the citizens in southern cities.
- Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi has said he is ready to talk to leaders of Yemen’s southern separatist movement. He said he would meet with both those currently fighting in the south, and leaders outside of Yemen calling for southern secession.
- Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said that the southern secessionist movement is an internal matter for Yemen to handle and that the United States supported a united Yemen. Secretary Feltman was in Yemen this week to deliver a letter of support from President Barack Obama to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
- Despite the ceasefire between government forces and the al Houthi rebels, 250,000-300,000 civilians remain displaced from the fighting. The conflict has badly damaged infrastructure in Sa’ada, where there is still no electricity or running water.
- A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s border control claims that since the February 11 al Houthi ceasefire, the Saudi government has arrested 5,685 infiltrators and 240 smugglers along the Saudi-Yemen border in the region where the al Houthi conflict occurred. The government claimed that 554 rounds of live ammunition and five weapons were confiscated. The reported numbers may be exaggerated.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Prominent Somali politician Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, along with Professor Mohamud Nur Adow, formed a new political party in the UK, the Somali Peace and Democratic Union.
- Islamist militant group al Shabaab destroyed Sufi graves in the town of Baidoa.
- Somali pirates are expanding their operations to land, where they hijacked three food aid trucks in the pirate town of Eyl. UN Spokesman Peter Smerdon described this event as the first of its kind.
- Former Mogadishu mayor and regional Governor Mohammed Omar Habeb, also known as Mohammed Dhere, accused al Shabaab of using the WFP ban to benefit the group by allowing the farmers in their region to benefit from selling their crops; while simultaneously causing more suffering to the Somali population.
- Somalia’s largest telecommunications network, Hormuud Telecom, provides a money transfer service which allows Somalis to transfer funds through their cell phones. This method could be used by militants to circumvent the security risks associated with transferring large cash sums around in the conflicted nation.
- Abdiwahid Abdi Gonjeh, TFG Deputy Prime Minister, stated Somaliland should not be recognized as an independent state. He described Somaliland as one of the Somali administrations in the state and cannot claim or be recognized as independent. This TFG statement comes after Israel said it was ready to recognize Somaliland as an independent state.