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: Clashes between Yemeni soldiers and Ansar al Sharia militants in Abyan governorate kill seven people; Yemeni military forces continue offensive into Jaar; clashes break out between al Houthis and tribesmen in Hajjah governorate; Madad News Agency previews AQAP scholar speech; jihadist gives advice on how to turn al Qaeda sympathizers into active supporters; Nobel laureate Tawakul Karman denounces drone strikes
Horn of Africa: Grenade attack in Wajir, Kenya kills two; Current TV releases audio interview with Omar Hammami from his hideout in Somalia; world representatives meet in Istanbul to discuss Somalia’s future; first Djiboutian troops allegedly arrive to Beledweyne; AMISOM reports that goods have begun to arrive to Mogadishu’s markets from Afgoi
Yemen Security Brief
- Four Ansar al Sharia militants and three Yemeni soldiers were killed when militants stormed government positions in Rada’a in al Bayda governorate on May 30. Ansar al Sharia reported that its forces attacked Yemeni troops and a Republican Guard checkpoint after Yemeni government forces surrounded the home of a local militant, Nasser al Hattam, and bombarded it with shells. Ansar al Sharia militants had seized Rada’a briefly in January. The militants withdrew after reaching an agreement with government authorities.
- The Yemeni military continued its offensive into Jaar in Abyan governorate on May 30, engaging Ansar al Sharia militants and defusing landmines planted by the militants. As of May 30, the 24-hour death toll in the clashes on the Jaar outskirts was 17 militants and six soldiers. 
- Fighting broke out between the al Houthis and armed tribesmen in Hajjah governorate’s Kushar district on the night of May 29. A local tribal leader reported that an al Houthi sniper killed a child and the tribesmen retaliated. The fighting killed dozens of combatants on both sides. The tribesmen were able to seize a rebel-held village.
- Madad News Agency reported on its Facebook page on May 29 that al Malahem Foundation, the media wing of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), will soon release an audio speech by Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, also known as Muhammad al Murshidi, a scholar in the organization. The title of the speech is “America in Yemen” and the theme is that the mujahideen represent “the Cause of Allah” and the Americans represent “the cause of the false deity.” Copies of the speech have reportedly been distributed in Abyan and Shabwah governorates.
- A jihadist posted advice on how to convert al Qaeda sympathizers into active supporters on jihadist forums on May 26. He said that supporters should not “show your happiness” when it comes to such attacks as the May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing, because it alienates sympathizers. In order to attract them, it is necessary to engage in “reasonable, balanced talk that calls for searching for solutions through which it is possible to avoid such an operation.” The supporters should also make clear that they target Yemeni soldiers not because they want to, but because the soldiers are allied with the United States. This “reasonable” discussion will help the sympathizers realize that the mujahideen are in the right and their way is the only way forward.
- Tawakul Karman, the co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, came out strongly against drone strikes in an interview with Reuters on May 30. "We are against drone strikes because they will not kill the real al Qaeda, they will only target women and youth,” Karman said. She does, however, support U.S. aid in fighting terrorism. She said that AQAP owes its strong position in Yemen to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and that with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi now in charge, “we are confident he will stop al Qaeda.” She called for the international community to pressure Saleh’s remaining relatives in power to step down from their positions.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A grenade attack in a restaurant in Wajir district in Kenya reportedly killed two civilians and wounded six others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
- Current TV released an interview with Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, on May 30. The interview was conducted by Christof Putzel, who was responsible for compiling a documentary on Hammami titled, “American Jihadi,” in 2010 after Hammami contacted him. In the interview, Hammami responds to the recent African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) offensive on Afgoi by stating, “Houston, we have a problem.” At one point, Putzel asks Hammami if he’s ever considered giving up and returning to the U.S. and Hammami responds, “Never. Maybe if I received a few head injuries out here I might start having some stupid ideas like that, but up until now I’m still sane. I’ve seen quite enough movies to know how the story turns out and I cherish my religion far too much to sell out for some mediocre comforts of this world. I just pray that God gives me the strength to finish strong.”
- Hundreds of Somali and world leaders from 54 countries are meeting in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss and strategize a way forward in Somalia. The two-day conference will focus on four key issues: water, energy, roads, and sustainability. Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali urged “multiple donors to set up a trust fund for Somalia.” Ali also said that he hopes that Somalia can exploit its long coastline to help stabilize the economy.
- A Somali government official reported that the first Djiboutian troops are due to arrive to Beledweyne in Hiraan region on May 31.
- AMISOM reported that goods have begun arriving to Mogadishu’s markets through Afgoi corridor over the last four days. The press release adds that farmers will no longer have to pay an illegal tax that al Shabaab previously enforced. Deputy AMISOM commander Brigadier General Audace Nduwumunsi said, “Afgooye is a breadbasket for much of Somalia and Al?Shabaab’s extortion of farmers was a major factor in the 2011 famine in which up to 100,000 people starved to death.”