Gulf of Aden
Yemen: U.S. State Department press release calls for “inclusive political process”; Defense Minister meets with Turkish counterpart to plan military cooperation; former AQAP operative reveals group planned to use poison in failed 2009 assassination
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab rejects foreign aid for drought victims; Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden argue over appointment of MPs; TFG announces plans to pay soldiers’ January salaries early; seven al Shabaab defectors presented to media as proof of group’s weakening resolve; Ministry of Information publishes press release on reuniting former al Shabaab child soldiers with their families
Yemen Security Brief
- Secretary Clinton issued a press release following her trip to Yemen, recognizing the “common threat posed by the terrorists and al Qaeda,” while affirming U.S. support for “an inclusive political process that will, in turn, support a unified, prosperous, stable democratic Yemen.” Secretary Clinton met not only with President Saleh, but also with opposition leaders during her visit.
- Yemeni Minister of Defense Mohammed Nasser Ahmed met with his Turkish counterpart Wajdi Gonul to discuss military cooperation. The meeting focused on sharing training techniques and medical services, while highlighting the continued need to combat terrorism and sea piracy. Five agreements outlining future cooperation between Yemen and Turkey were signed on Monday, including one specifically focusing on military issues.
- Former al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative and former Guantanamo detainee (#188) Jabir Jubran al Fayfi revealed that AQAP had planned to include poison in the explosive device used in the August 2009 attempted assassination of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror program. Fayfi explained that Ibrahim al Asiri built the bomb, but AQAP’s “military leader in Yemen, Qassim al Rimi, inadvertently failed” to add the poison before it was deployed.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab denied permission to humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to drought victims in south and central Somalia. Sheikh Sudan Aala Mohammed, an al Shabaab official in Mogadishu, told insurgent controlled radio, “What are called aid agencies or welfare agencies pretext humanity and they want to Christianize our people only,” adding that foreign agencies deliver expired supplies that cause disease.
- Disagreement arose between Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden over the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which expires in August 2011. Speaker Sharif Hassan has refused to assist in appointing new members of parliament, thwarting what Radio Garowe describes as President Sharif’s attempts to extend his term as president through parliamentary vote.
- Somali Defense Minister Abdulhakim Mohamud Hajji announced in a January 10, 2011 email that the TFG will begin paying the January salaries of its soldiers, only a week after paying the December wages. In the email, Minister Hajji wrote, “As the government takes care of you, we ask that you increase your efforts in defending the country from enemies both from within and from without.” The payment of the December salaries was the first in seven months, and it is hoped that the January compensation will prevent soldiers from deserting or joining the insurgency.
- The TFG displayed seven defectors from al Shabaab as proof of the group’s weakening morale. The Somali department of home security hosted the event, and invited journalists to interview the former militants, who expressed disgust at al Shabaab’s tactics. Yusuf Mohammed Hassan, one of the former militants, told reporters, “al Shabaab doesn’t act in accordance with Islamic religion,” adding that a phone call from a friend who had defected earlier convinced him to flee. Somali Prime Minister Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed first called on al Shabaab militants to defect in November, and since then a steady trickle have done so, including six last month.
- The Somali Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunications published a press release outlining the reunion of approximately two dozen former al Shabaab child soldiers with their families. Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunications Abdulkareem Hassan Jama said, “The Government welcomes the young men and will help them resume their normal life again. We ask the international community to help the Government in saving the children and youth from radicalization through the provisioning of economic and educational opportunities as well as de-radicalization programs.”