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: Botched airstrike targeting al Qaeda hideout kills councilman, tribesmen retaliate; government releases 300 rebels following amnesty pledge; clash between pro-government tribe, southern rebels kills two in Abyan province; southern leaders dismiss Saleh amnesty pledge from exile

Horn of Africa: Leaked U.S. military directive says increased convert acts authorized in Somalia and Yemen; al Shabaab targets presidential palace in Mogadishu; pro-government forces converge on Mogadishu, police spokesman says TFG ready for offensive; Hizb al Islam gives foreign aid groups 24 hours to close in Hiraan; American destroyer intercepts hijacked ship off Somali coast; Somali pirates take Yemeni fishing boat

Yemen Security Brief

  • A botched airstrike targeting al Qaeda militants killed deputy provincial councilman, Jabir al bin al Shabwani, and two of his bodyguards in Wadi Abeida in Ma’rib province. Reportedly, Shabwani was conducting negotiations with the militants for their surrender to the government when a missile hit his car.  An opposition newspaper reported the missile came from a drone. In retaliation, local tribesmen blew up an oil pipeline connecting the province to the Red Sea coast and attacked government buildings, killing three people.[1]
  • The Yemeni government released 300 rebels Monday—200 Houthis and 100 southern separatists—the first move after President Saleh promised amnesty to all militants in the spirit of Yemen’s unification anniversary.[2]
  • A clash between forces from a pro-government tribe, al Maraqueshah, and Southern Movement militants killed at least two people in Ja’ar in Abyan province Sunday. The tribesman attacked the militants in retaliation for an ambush Saturday that killed one soldier and wounded another.[3]
  • Former Yemen Vice President Ali Salim al Beidh, speaking in exile from Germany, responded to President Saleh’s speech by calling for a UN investigation into government abuses in southern Yemen. He accused Saleh of trying to cleanse the secessionist movement through repression. Likewise, former PM Abu Bakr al Attas criticized the president’s speech, calling it a “failed shot” that offered no recognition or solution of the country’s problems. Al Attas, from exile in France, said the federal system should stay for four more years and set the stage for a referendum whereby South Yemen could legally secede.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A leaked classified directive from General David Petraeus named Somalia and Yemen as countries where the U.S. will increase covert military operations. The order calls for an increased military presence in order to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.[5]
  • Following Sunday’s attack, al Shabaab’s governor of Mogadishu, Sheikh Ali Mohammed Hussein claimed the group had secured Mogadishu’s northern districts and were now just a few kilometers away from the presidential palace, which Shabaab intends to capture. Yusuf Indho Adde, the Somali defense minister, confirmed the TFG’s military defeat.[6]
  • Fighters from Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a flew into Mogadishu Monday to consolidate the group’s forces there. Also, the spokesman of the Mogadishu police force said Tuesday that they were ready to launch an offensive against al Shabaab and Hizb al Islam.[7]
  • Hizb al Islam gave foreign aid agencies a 24-hour ultimatum to close their offices in Hiraan province or the group will forcibly seize them.[8] 
  • An American destroyer intercepted a hijacked Panamanian-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia after positively identifying it last week. The M/V Iceberg initially reported it was pirate-free, but later some of the 20 crew members radioed that 50 heavily armed pirates had the ship under their control.[9]
  • Somali pirates captured a Yemeni fishing boat just south of Socatra Island and forced the three fishermen aboard to swap vessels.[10]


[1] “Airstrike kills Yemen mediator, tribes hit pipeline” Reuters, May 25, 2010. Available:
“Yemen Airstrike on al-Qaida Hide-Out, Clash Kill 6,” AP, May 25, 2010.  Available:
[2] “Yemen releases 200 Houthi fighters,” PressTV, May 25, 2010. Available:
[3] “Violent Clashes between Al-Maraqueshah and Gunmen of Mobility in Abyan,” Yemen Post, May 23, 2010. Available:
[4] “Al-Beidh Calls for U.N. Fact Finding Committee over South Yemen,” Yemen Post, May 22, 2010. Available:
[5] “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Military Acts in Mideast Region,” New York Times, May 24, 2010. Available:
[6] “Somalia: Al-Shabaab insurgents vow to seize presidential palace,” Garowe, May 25, 2010. Available:
[7] “Somalia: Fighters reach Mogadishu,” Mareeg, May 25, 2010. Available:
[8] “Somalia: Hizbul Islam order aid agencies out of Hiran region,” Garowe, May 25, 2010. Available:
[9] “U.S. destroyer shadows ship under pirate control,” CNN, May 24, 2010. Available:
[10] “Somali pirates hijack Yemeni fishing boat,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), May 25, 2010. Available:
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