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: Intelligence officer survives AQAP assassination attempt; AQAP gunmen kill Shabwah politician; military moves to prevent march on presidential palace in Sana’a; protests erupt in Dhamar governorate; demonstrations continue in Aden; foreign minister asks for $6 billion in aid, asserts that Saleh will step down in 2013; tens of thousands of people rally in Ibb; parliament votes to expand voter registry; prisoners in Sana’a riot demanding better treatment and Saleh’s resignation; Human Rights Watch warns that Yemeni government is facilitating violent crackdowns on protests
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab forces tribal leaders to swear allegiance and join extremist militias; TFG President dismisses top commanders; eight people killed in fighting between Puntland and Somaliland forces; Ethiopian forces arrive in the Galgudud region; TFG defense minister claims that American al Shabaab commander Abu Mansour al Amriki has been killed; TFG forces preparing for attack against al Shabaab militants in Beledweyne; al Shabaab fighters flee to Baidoa; video of captured Burundian soldier posted on jihadist forums; TFG President claims al Shabaab is on the verge of collapse
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni intelligence officer Mohammed Ali Samegha survived an assassination attempt carried out by suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Abyan governorate.
- Suspected AQAP gunmen killed a local council member in his office in Shabwah governorate.
- Military vehicles moved into the streets in Sana’a after youth activists called for a march on the presidential palace. Water cannons and concrete blocks were placed around Sana’a University.
- Residents reported that about 10,000 people marched in Dhamar to protest President Saleh’s rule. Saleh has close ties to Dhamar and high-ranking government officials such as the prime minister, interior minister, and head judge come from Dhamar. Local members of the ruling party report that protestors threw rocks at municipal officials. Armed security guards fired on a group of workers, injuring at least six people.
- Yemeni security forces attempted to disperse protests in Aden through the use of tear gas, batons, and live rounds fired into the air. Women joined in protests after a bullet critically wounded a protestor Monday. Local officials report that 25 demonstrators were arrested Monday.
- Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi told Reuters that Yemen needs $6 billion to implement its five-year development plan, adding that “what we need is really development and economic growth because the present political crisis is really as a result of the economic situation in Yemen.” At a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) briefing, Qirbi asserted that President Saleh had no intention to stay in power after the end of his term in 2013.
- Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets in Ibb, calling for justice following Sunday’s clashes in which government supporters attacked an anti-government protest camp. Over fifty people were injured in the clashes and one of the protestors wounded in clashes on Sunday died Monday night from his injuries.
- SABA News, Yemen’s news agency, reported that the Yemeni Parliament voted to allow the voter registry to be updated ahead of the upcoming April 2011 parliamentary elections. In late 2010 parliament decided to close voter registration, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Yemeni citizens who have since reached voting age.
- A Yemeni security official reports that about 2,000 inmates rioted at a Sana’a prison. Late Monday, inmates set fire to their bedding and took over the main courtyard. Prison guards fired tear gas and live rounds into the air, but have been unable to regain control of the prisoners. The inmates have taken about a dozen guards hostage and called for President Saleh to step down. The prisoners also demanded better treatment while incarcerated.
- Human Rights Watch issued a report concluding that “Yemen officials and security forces have facilitated attacks by armed gangs on peaceful anti-government protestors in places away from the capital of Sana’a, or stood by while such attacks occurred.” The report estimated that “pro-government gangs” injured at least thirty protestors in attacks March 2 and 3.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab released a communiqué through its media arm, the al Kata’ib Foundation for Media Production, announcing that tribal elders from across Somalia had gathered in Maslah, north of Mogadishu, to swear loyalty to al Shabaab and pledge to fight against the TFG. The communiqué also included thirty photographs of the gathering. Suna Times reported that the elders had been forced to attend the gathering and were conscripted into al Shabaab militias despite their pleas that they were told old to fight. Al Shabaab fighters also occupied the home of a prominent cleric in the Middle Shabelle region who had earlier criticized the extremist group.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed dismissed four high ranking security officers, including the police commissioner, the head of Somali intelligence, the head of the disciplinary army and the commander of the armed forces, on the grounds of recent poor performance. Sheikh Abdighani Abu Yahia, al Shabaab’s deputy commander in the Lower Shabelle region, told hundreds of newly trained al Shabaab militants that these dismissals demonstrate growing fractures and weakness within the TFG.
- Somaliland Information Minister Abdullahi Osman announced that Somaliland soldiers had repelled a Puntland offensive against Ganbar village in the Sool region. Osman said that at least eight people were killed and Somaliland soldiers captured four vehicles belonging to Puntland soldiers.
- Shabelle Media Network reported that further Ethiopian forces have arrived in the Dhusamareb district of the Galgudud region and have united with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters in advance of an offensive against al Shabaab positions in the Elbur district.
- TFG Defense Minister Abdulhakim Hajji Fiki told the Associated Press that intelligence reports indicate that American al Shabaab commander Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, has been killed, although these reports remain unconfirmed. The New York Times reported that multiple high-ranking al Shabaab commanders have been killed or wounded in recent fighting, including Amriki, who was reportedly treated for minor injuries at a hospital in an al Shabaab-controlled area.
- Suna Times reported that TFG forces are expected to attack al Shabaab militants in Beledweyne within a few hours, adding that many al Shabaab leaders have already fled the area, leaving their fighters behind.
- Al Shabaab militants in the Bay and Bakool regions have abandoned their posts in the Rabdure, Wajid and Berdale districts and fled towards Baidoa district.
- The Global Islamic Media Front released a video showing al Shabaab fighters exhibiting a Burundian soldier captured during fighting in Mogadishu. The soldier spoke to reporters present and warned fellow Burundian soldiers that “once you arrive in Somalia the only thing that awaits you here is death,” and concluded that AMISOM will never defeat al Shabaab.
- President Sharif spoke to reporters in Mogadishu and claimed that “al Shabaab is on the verge of collapse,” promising that “We shall also sweep them from Mogadishu. Our enemies have suffered a great loss.” Sharif also asked the people of Somalia to aid TFG and AMISOM forces in eradicating al Shabaab.