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: Yemen army continues siege of Hawta in Shabwah governorate; Yemeni troops prepare for offensive on Hawta, Beidh questions motivations; tribal leader dies in hospital in Hawta; AQAP releases statement saying field commander killed earlier in 2010; suicide attack on Dhaleh security headquarters

Horn of Africa: President appoints acting prime minister; AMISOM troops gain upper hand in Mogadishu offensive; AMISOM pledges continued support to Somalia; African Union asks for temporary ceasefire; Angola may train Somali troops

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Yemeni security forces’ siege of the town of Hawta in Shabwah governorate continued for the second day as the army destroyed five homes suspected of harboring al Qaeda militants. Security officials reported that the destroyed houses were empty.   Security officials also denied that Anwar al Awlaki was among those surrounded in Hawta.  The Director of Security for Shabwah said that the military captured 28 militants today.  Medical sources report 4 Yemeni soldiers have been killed today.   Yemeni troops fired on residents’ vehicles fleeing Hawta and the nearby city of Lawder in Abyan governorate, killing two people and injuring three others.[1]
  • Yemeni troops are prepared for an offensive against suspected al Qaeda militants in the town of Hawta in Shabwah governorate once the city has been cleared of civilians, according to an official involved in preparations for the assault.   Approximately half of the 20,000 residents have fled; however, militants reportedly prevented the remaining residents from leaving in the hopes of using them as protection against the Yemeni troops.  Officials estimate that between 80 and 100 al Qaeda members are currently stationed in Hawta.  Ali Salem al Beidh, the former president of south Yemen and a leader of the Southern Movement, described the offensive as a push to gain “financial assistance under the pretext of fighting terrorism” prior to the Friends of Yemen meeting.  He added that the government has used the pretext of fighting al Qaeda as a way to “silence the voice of the free south and its peaceful independence movement.”[2] 
  • A tribal leader from Hawta, Sheikh Abdel Wahid Mansour, died in the hospital Tuesday from wounds he sustained in the fight between the government forces and al Qaeda members.  The General Secretary of the Local Council in Mayfaa district in Hawta of Shabwah governorate, Yaslam Bajanoub, reported that approximately 12,000 people have now been displaced due to the fighting.[3] 
  • A statement released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on jihadist forums claimed that Hani Abdu Mosleh Shalan, a field commander and a former Guantanamo detainee, was killed in a Yemeni-U.S. air raid earlier in 2010.  Shalan was caught by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks and was held in Guantanamo due to his participation in the anti-U.S. war in Afghanistan.[4]
  • A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up outside of the security headquarters of Dhaleh governorate.  Two soldiers were harmed.  A security official claims that it is too early to determine who was behind the attack.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  •  President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appointed Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh to be the acting Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government. Elmi previously served as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Transportation prior to his appointment.[6]
  • A foreign observer reported that AMISOM forces have gained the upper hand in al Shabaab’s Mogadishu offensive, in large part due to the efforts of Ugandan soldiers.  With many TFG soldiers deserting their posts, the observer said that, “at one point, only the Ugandans (the main contingent of AMISOM) were fighting.”  Al Shabaab failed to reach their military objective of capturing the presidential compound or of cutting the Makka al Mukarama supply line, leading AMISOM spokesman Ba-Hoku Barigye to claim that “the offensive was a failure.”[7] 
  • On Tuesday, AMISOM pledged to continue assisting Somalia in achieving peace and to assist the needy population.  AMISOM Force Commander, General Nathan Mugisha, said, “AMISOM is only here to help the Somali people . . . we wish to urge the groups who are still fighting the government to cease fire even for a day.” [8]
  • Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, released a statement saying the day represents the commitment stated by African leaders to “deal once and for all with the scourge of conflicts and violence on our continent.”  African Union leaders hoped that the temporary ceasefire would allow humanitarian agencies to dispense medicines and humanitarian assistance to communities that are otherwise inaccessible due to conflict.[9] 
  • Angolan Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs George Chicoty said Monday that Angola may contribute to training Somalia’s troops in order to assist the AMISOM’s efforts to stabilize the country.[10]

View Citations
[1] “Yemeni Officials Deny Reports Cleric Surrounded,” AP, September 21, 2010. Available:
“Yemen Al Qaeda Clash,” Fox News, September 22, 2010. Available:
[2] “Yemen Army Poised for Assault on Rebel Town,” AFP, September 22, 2010. Available:
[3] “Tribal Leader Killed in Clashes with al-Qaeda Southern Yemen,” News Yemen, September 21, 2010. Available:
[4] “Commander of al-Qaeda Killed in Yemen-U.S. Airstrike,” Yemen Observer, September 22, 2010. Available:
[5] “Suicide Attack Wounds Two Soldiers in South Yemen,” AFP, September 22, 2010. Available:
[6] “Somalia: President Appoints Acting PM,” Africa News, September 22, 2010.  Available:
[7] “AU Forces Regain Upper Hand in Mogadishu,” Middle East Online, September 22, 2010. Available:
[8] “For Immediate Release- Extremists Urged to Give Peace a Chance,” Mareeg Online, September 22, 2010. Available:
[9] “Press Release: What Will you do to Make Peace Happen?” African Union Mission in Somalia, September 21, 2010. Available:
[10] “Angola Might Train Somali Troops,” Mareeg Online, September 21, 2010. Available:


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