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: AQAP militants kill six security officers; security forces arrest sixteen protestors and injure several others during Aden protest; at least 47 protestors injured after Saleh supporters attack anti-regime demonstrators in Ibb; opposition responds to Saleh’s rejection of five-point plan; large demonstrations continue in cities across Yemen; multiple MPs and local official resign from the GPC; PM visits Sana’a University and attempts to speak to demonstrators; Saleh meets with military and security officials; court sentences AQAP militants to prison terms ranging from 2-15 years; State Department issues Travel Warning for Yemen
Horn of Africa: TFG soldiers and Ahlu Sunna fighters make progress in the Gedo region and capture Beled Hawo; Ahlu Sunna fighters and Ethiopian military seize territory in the Galgudud region; two people killed in quarrel amongst TFG soldiers in Mogadishu; seven people injured in grenade attack on TFG police in Mogadishu; Kenyan police arrest suspected al Shabaab official operating within Kenya; Kenyan officials seal border with Somalia and deny that Ethiopian forces have bases within Kenya; al Shabaab officials threaten Kenya and Ethiopia and announce executions of two Somali men; TFG soldiers refuse to allow Mogadishu businessmen to travel to Bakara Market
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants killed four Yemeni Republican Guard soldiers in al Rudha district of Ma’rib governorate. The militants ambushed an officer’s vehicle, which was delivering supplies to the city of Ma’rib. Suspected AQAP militants also assassinated Colonel Abdulhamid al Sharaabi in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. He was in the market when he was shot by two men on motorbike. A second officer, Colonel Shayef al Shuaibi, was assassinated in the same manner in Sayun in Hadramawt governorate.
- Yemeni security forces arrested sixteen protestors Saturday outside of al Nur mosque. Witnesses report that three protestors were wounded Friday night during a sit-in in Aden. Security forces used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse the protestors and security personnel wielding batons injured two demonstrators. Over 20,000 people are believed to have marched in Aden.
- Government supporters attacked an anti-government protest camp in Ibb. A protest leader said, “Large groups from the ruling party attacked the protest headquarters with stones and batons, and 25 people were injured including six in critical condition.” At least 47 people were injured in the clashes according to witnesses. Saturday, tens of thousands marched in protest against the government.
- Mohammed Sabri, a leading member of Yemen’s opposition bloc, said, “We have called upon the people to widen demonstrations and escalate the peaceful struggle in all regions until he [Saleh] is left with one option, that is to leave.” President Saleh had reasserted that he would not resign until his term ends in 2013. A statement read, “The peaceful and smooth transition of power is not carried out through chaos but through the will of the people expressed through elections.” A source at the President’s office told SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, that the five point plan offered by the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) contained “ambiguity and confusion” and that setting a deadline for Saleh to implement reforms violated the constitution.
- Nearly 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Sana’a Friday to protest against President Saleh’s regime. A protest of similar size occurred in Taiz. SABA News reported that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators rallied in support of Saleh across Yemen on Sunday.
- Yemen’s Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Hashi Abdullah al Ahmar, resigned Saturday. Friday, Ali Ahmad al Omrani, a sheikh from al Bayda, and Nabil al Khameri, a businessman, resigned from the ruling party, too. Eleven former General People’s Congress (GPC) MPs have since formed a new parliamentary bloc, named the “Free Deputies” and headed by MP Abdo Bisher. The Yemen Post reported that several prominent lawyers, tribal sheikhs and local leaders in Dhamar governorate also left the GPC.
- SABA News reported that Prime Minister Ali Mujawar and other high-ranking officials met with protestors outside Sana’a University and explained President Saleh’s position before listening carefully to the demands of the demonstrators. The Yemen Post confirmed that Mujawar visited the university but reported that his speech was drowned out by demonstrators chanting for Saleh’s resignation.
- President Saleh’s personal website reported that Saleh met with military, security, and political leaders in Sana’a and discussed ways to address growing unrest across Yemen. Saleh offered condolences to the families of soldiers and officers killed by AQAP militants and called for a comprehensive national dialogue on threats facing the government.
- A Yemeni court sentenced four AQAP militants to prison terms ranging from two to fifteen years for their involvement in attacks on tourists and security personnel in Ma’rib governorate. One of the convicted men was Iraqi while another was a German citizen.
- The U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Warning advising all U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen and urging U.S. citizens currently in Yemen to consider leaving the country. The statement cautions that “the security threat level in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- TFG soldiers and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters captured the town of Beled Hawo in the Gedo region, which is near the Kenyan and Ethiopian border. Shabelle Media Network reported that al Shabaab fighters are massing outside of the town at a base in the village of Burdhubo in preparation for a counterattack after having left positions throughout Gedo region. Ahlu Sunna spokesman Sharif Abdiwahid Sharif Aden told Shabelle Radio that seven Ahlu Sunna fighters had been killed and 48 al Shabaab militants had been captured in the fighting. TFG soldiers along with Ahlu Sunna fighters also secured the district of Luq in the Gedo region and have begun searching for hidden caches of weapons and explosives buried by fleeing al Shabaab militants.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters and Ethiopian soldiers captured an al Shabaab base in the Dhusamareb district in the central Galgudud region and have begun to gain territory in the al Shabaab-controlled districts of Elbur and Elder.
- TFG soldiers killed two at least two people in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu after a dispute between two groups of TFG soldiers over a car escalated into violence.
- Unidentified attackers injured at least seven people in a grenade attack on a TFG police van traveling through the Zoobe junction in Mogadishu. Witnesses reported that TFG soldiers opened fire indiscriminately after the explosion.
- Kenyan police in Nairobi arrested at least ten men suspected being members of al Shabaab and police in the Kenyan town of Mandera arrested six suspected extremists, including a Pakistani man and two Somali-Americans on similar charges. Kenyan police released photographs of nine suspected al Shabaab officials believed to be operating in Kenya.
- Kenyan assistant Defense Minister Joseph Nkaissery told the Kenyan Parliament that Ethiopian troops have not been using the border town of Mandera as a staging ground for attacks on al Shabaab forces in Somalia. The Kenya-Somalia border has been closed indefinitely and Nkaissery assured parliament that measures are in place to prevent foreign militias from entering Kenya. Kenyan Minister of Internal Security George Saitoti also confirmed that the government will raise security along the border rather than send soldiers to engage al Shabaab forces.
- Al Shabaab official Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur repeated earlier warnings that al Shabaab will attack Kenya, accusing the Kenyan government of arresting al Shabaab fighters along the Kenya-Somalia border and providing support to the Somali and Ethiopian militaries. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage also threatened Ethiopian soldiers, saying “They will no longer stay at Somali and will not raise their flag inside our soil,” and warned Kenya that “previous warnings…are nothing compared to this one.” Rage also announced that al Shabaab courts executed two Somali men, one of whom was convicted of murder and the other suspected of being a TFG spy.
- Mogadishu businessmen complained to Shabelle Media Network that TFG soldiers stationed at Sayikda junction refused to allow them to travel to the al Shabaab stronghold of Bakara Market.