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 Army repels attack by al Qaeda-linked militants on military bases near Zinjibar; Yemeni government denies having any knowledge of bomb plot; American military trainers to return to Yemen; Hadi refuses to negotiate with Ansar al Sharia, voices support for Popular Resistance Committees in Abyan
Horn of Africa: Premature detonation kills three al Shabaab militants; Joint Security Committee meets in Mogadishu; TFG Defense Minister vows to eliminate al Shabaab from Somalia; Puntland and Somaliland invest in education to prevent youths from joining al Shabaab and the pirates
Yemen Security Brief
- A military official said that the Yemeni Army managed to repel an attack staged by dozens of al Qaeda-linked militants on military bases near Zinjibar. The armed forces of the 25th Mechanized Brigade reportedly killed at least six militants in the attack. “The soldiers traded fire with al-Qaida militants for about three hours and forced them to retreat into their strongholds," the official stated. Another field commander reported that the Yemeni army was tracking down the al Qaeda-linked militants and that several of the militants’ vehicles and compounds were destroyed.
- Yemeni officials reported that the Yemeni government was unaware of a bomb plot to bring down a U.S.-bound airliner. An official from Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s office stated, “We have no information on the attempted bombing the U.S. authorities have spoken of,” while another senior Yemeni official said, “The bomb plot only served U.S. interests and Yemen was once more kept in the dark.” The New York Times reported that a Saudi double agent infiltrated the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist cell planning the attack and that the agent later produced the explosive device and the information leading to the May 6 airstrike that killed AQAP operative Fahd al Quso.
- The Pentagon announced on May 8 that it is sending military personnel to resume the training of Yemeni counterterrorism forces. A Pentagon spokesman and Navy Captain John Kirby said, “We have begun to reintroduce small numbers of trainers into Yemen.” Another American official reported that special operations forces were being sent to Yemen.
- Al Ahali newspaper reported that President Hadi refused to attend peace talks with Ansar al Sharia mediated by Salafi clerics. Sources added that the clerics met with Hadi on May 7 in Abyan and encouraged him to agree to a ceasefire with Ansar al Sharia in the south. Hadi also reportedly met with tribal, military and political leaders in Abyan and voiced his support for Popular Resistance Committees comprised of armed pro-government civilians in their fight against al Qaeda-linked militants. The meeting came amid calls from Abyan leaders for Hadi to eradicate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) influence in the south: “As you are a son of Abyan and the State's head, we demand you to reinforce the army troops to liberate Abyan, return the displaced people and to end a year-long tragedy of Abyan.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Three suspected al Shabaab militants were killed while planting roadside bombs in two separate incidents. One man was killed in between Bar Ubah and Black Sea junctions in Mogadishu; two others, including a woman, were killed in the El Abdi Dere area of Elbur district in Galgudud region. The latter were allegedly targeting Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and Ethiopian forces in the area.
- Somalia’s Joint Security Committee (JSC) met in Mogadishu on May 8 to discuss strengthening Somalia’s security agencies. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali spoke at the meeting, which took place at Halane, the African Union Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM) main base in Mogadishu. Representatives from the European Union, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were in attendance.
- The Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) Defense Minister Hussein Arab Isse vowed to eliminate al Shabaab from Somalia. He explained that the TFG has made progress against al Shabaab, but it requires the assistance of Somali citizens to combat al Shabaab’s guerrilla campaign.
- The semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland have been making significant investments in education to prevent youths from joining al Shabaab and the pirates. Somaliland plans to allocate 10 percent of its budget toward education in 2012 and Puntland plans to allocate 3.5 percent this year and 7 percent next year.