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: U.S. officials “deeply divided” over Yemeni military aid package; explosive found near pipeline in Shabwah governorate; officials ban motorcycles in Abyan governorate; Yemeni tribal chief warns al Houthi rebels; thousands protest outside of Lawder in Abyan governorate; Indian navy foils attempted pirate attack in Gulf of Aden

Horn of Africa: Parliament meeting Thursday to decide political future of Somali Prime Minister; UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights visits Puntland, Somaliland; al Shabaab holds protest against Koran burning; IDPs in Afgoi forced off land as pirates move in; al Shabaab expels aid agencies

Yemen Security Brief

  • Senior U.S. officials in both the State and Defense Departments are divided over “the pace and scale” of a proposed $1.2 billion package of military equipment and training spread across six years. Those opposed to aid package worry that U.S. weapons could be used against President Saleh’s political adversaries under the auspices of fighting terrorism. Opponents argue that this could further destabilize the country. The State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, said combating terrorism in the long term “must involve the development of credible institution that can deliver real economic and social progress.” A senior defense official said that “if we’re going to do this, we need to do it right, not dribble aid in and wonder why, if things worsen.”[1]

  • The Yemeni Interior Ministry reported Wednesday that security forces discovered explosives near a pipeline in the Rawdah district of Shabwah governorate. The Interior Ministry added that the same pipeline was subject to an attempted bombing Wednesday. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.[2]

  • Security officials have banned the use of motorcycles in Abyan governorate, officials announced Thursday, where most attacks against security officials have been carried out by armed motorcyclists. “Using motorbikes in terrorist operations to assassinate intelligence officers and security personal have been massively mounted over the past nine months in the province,” the official told reporters.[3]

  • Thousands of southerners demonstrated against the army’s “blockade” of Lawder in Abyan governorate.  Aydarus Haqis, a leader of the Southern Movement, said “Thousands arrived since Wednesday evening in the city of Loder to participate in the protest aimed at lifting the army blockade imposed by Yemeni occupation forces since August.”[4]

  • Hussein al Ahmar, a prominent Yemeni tribal chief, said, “We warn the Houthi and his followers of the consequences of interfering in the affairs of the tribes and attacking their chieftains. . . . Any interference of such kind will be faced with a ruthless response.”[5]

  • The Indian Defense Ministry said Thursday that its navy had disarmed an attempted pirate attack Wednesday off the coast of Somalia. The Indian naval ship was protecting six merchant ships when the pirates began their approach. The Indian Defense Ministry also said that this was the third attempted attack foiled by the Indian navy this week.[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Somali parliament will reconvene Thursday to decide the political future of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, as his rift with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed over the proposed constitution deepens. Prime Minister Sharmarke told reporters in Nairobi last week that his dispute with President Ahmed was “a mere disagreement” and called for a more unified TFG. In Mogadishu Wednesday, President Ahmed told parliament that the prime minister had not delivered on his promises. “I was named to choose the prime minister,” he said. “If he fails to perform his duties I have to get back to you about it. I can’t be utterly quiet as Somalia’s future is being destroyed.”[7]

  • United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang concluded a three-day tour of Kenya, Somaliland and Puntland Wednesday. In a statement to reporters, Ms. Kang said that she came away from the visit “with a profound sense that we can - and must - do more now to contribute to Somali efforts to create a peaceful and prosperous country in the long run.” She also condemned in the strongest words possible “the ruthless attacks and abuses against civilians by the al Shabaab and other armed groups.”[8]

  • Al Shabaab militants held a rally in Mogadishu Wednesday to protest a now cancelled Quran burning by a Florida pastor. According to witnesses, thousands gathered in a Mogadishu stadium and chanted “God is great” and “Down with America.” Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage said that “the Americans are trying to hide these evil acts from the public but we know and we saw what they did.” He added, “This will draw immediate retaliation from the billions of Muslims around the world.”[9]

  • IDPs living in Somalia’s Afgoi corridor are being forced to once again relocate as property owners in the area have begun to sell the land on which the IDPs live. One journalist reported that “many of those who are acquiring the land are said to be people with piracy links.” He also added the buyers were “flush with cash and offering inflated prices for the land.” Many of the IDP families are reportedly moving further away from the corridor and out of the reach of aid groups.[10]

  • Al Shabaab spokesman, Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, said Wednesday that three aid groups – Mercy Corps, Med-Air and Horn Relief – have been expelled from the country by the militant group for “propagating Western ideology to the Somali people.” He also said that al Shabaab would retaliate against the organizations if they failed to leave the country.[11]

[1] “U.S. Divided on Aid to Counter Qaeda Threat in Yemen,” New York Times, September 15, 2010. Available:
[2] “Security services find explosive near gas pipeline in Balhaf,” Saba Net, September 15, 2010. Available:
[3] “Yemen bans motorcycles in Qaida-infested Abyan,” Xinhua News Agency, September 16, 2010. Available:
[4] “Thousands Protest Army ‘Blockade’ in Yemen,” AFP, September 16, 2010.  Available:
[5] “Yemeni Chief Warns Houthi Rebels,” The National, September 15, 2010. Available:
[6] “Indian navy ship foils 3 piracy attacks in Gulf of Aden this week,” Associated Press, September 16, 2010. Available:
[7] “Dinner, Dates and Politics with Somalia’s Premier,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2010. Available:
[8] “Senior UN Human Rights Commissioner Visited Puntland,” Garowe Online, September 15, 2010. Available:
[9] “Somalia’s Shebab stage demo over Koran burning,” AFP, September 15, 2010. Available:
[10] “Afgoi IDPs forced out as ‘pirate’ landlords move in,” IRIN, September 16, 2010. Available:
[11] “Somalia pres denies dispute with PM, al Shabaab expels 3 aid agencies,” Garowe Online, September 16, 2010. Available:
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