Aftermath of Somalia’s 9/11 counter-terrorism quandary

The bomber who was responsible for killing more than 300 people in a truck suicide attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu was a former soldier in the army. It appears that the attack may have been revenge for a botched raid by US and local troops on his home village, which killed ten civilians as they ran to take cover under banana trees. On 25 August, the botched raid occurred in the bomber’s village in Bariire, southern Somalia. I penned down back then that it would lead to blowback towards government forces as family members impacted by the counter-terrorism raid may be inspired to join armed groups to spearhead their anger. It transpired, according to officials, that the bomber defected […]

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‘When the aggression stops, so will we’, say the Houthis

Khalil Dewan interviews Muhammed Al-Bukhaithi, Deputy Head of the Department of External Relations of Ansar Allah (otherwise known as the Houthis) and member of the Political Bureau. The Houthis are currently allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and have been in control of the capital Sana’a since 2014. As the battle lines settle on a stalemate after the inception of the Saudi-led coalition’s unforgiving bombing campaign, it’s about time all parties to the conflict think about a peace process, which must include the Houthi armed group. “We are ready to reach a peace agreement with the Saudi-led coalition”, Deputy Head of External Relations, Muhammed Al-Bukhaithi confirms to me. It’s of mutual interest for all parties in the conflict to […]

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US Daesh fighter in Syria poses dilemma for White House

On 12 September an American member who was allegedly fighting with Daesh in Syria surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces and was handed over to the United States’ military custody in Iraq. The Department of Defence (DoD) is treating the fighter as an “enemy combatant”. Whether the US decides to imprison him in Guantanamo Bay or fly him to US mainland to be tried in a civilian court is a major litmus test over the legality of the war against the Daesh group (or the Islamic State) in Syria, Iraq and beyond. The US DoD did not name the specific group part of the transfer to US custody, but claimed the group was part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Maj. […]

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Drone shot down by Houthis suggests US support for Saudi coalition air strikes

One Yemeni citizen was very clear that the people can hear the sounds of drones every night in Sana’a, but were surprised to know that this was a US drone. “What,” asked Hussam Al-Sanabani, “was it doing?” He was referring to the US drone shot down by the Iranian-backed Houthi group in the Yemeni capital last weekend. The presence of US drones over Houthi-controlled territory suggests that Washington is providing intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition. War crime allegations have been levied against Saudi Arabia for targeting civilians indiscriminately in air strikes. “This incident is under investigation,” said Pentagon spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway. “We assess that an MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was shot down in western Yemen on 1 October, […]

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Houthi leader threatens Saudi Arabia and the UAE

It was only last month that the Houthis called upon Saudi Arabia to initiate a truce to stop hostilities across Yemen. Sadly, it was ignored by Saudi Arabia, even though it could have been a step in the right direction to open up future avenues for peace and security in the region. Last week, though, the leader of the Houthi militia, Abdel Malek Al-Houthi, issued new threats against Saudi Arabia if Riyadh goes ahead with plans to attack and retake Hudaydah port, a military objective for some time. “Today the port of Hudaydah is being threatened,” said Al-Houthi, “and we cannot turn a blind eye to that.” In a televised speech, the Houthi leader continued to include the United Arab […]

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Remembering the September 21 Revolution in Yemen

Three years ago today the Ansar Allah armed group – otherwise known as the Houthis – took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. Led by Abdul Malik Al-Houthi the group surrounded the home of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and forced him to resign. The Houthis continue to control Sanaa today. What: September 21 Revolution When: 21 September 2014 Where: Yemen What happened? The Houthi armed group in Yemen has long challenged the central government in the country. In 2011 they protested alongside other opposition groups in favour of ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Three years later they ousted his successor, Hadi, with the help of Saleh. The Houthis called for a public revolution and protests which resulted in an armed […]

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US’ Black Hawk Down in Yemen

A United States Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the southern Yemeni coast in late August leaving six US army officers stranded in Yemen. Five elite soldiers were rescued after the crash and a sixth officer was reported “missing” in war-torn Yemen. This crash did not resemble the US’ Black Hawk Down incident of 1993 in Somalia – nothing like it. It has all the hallmarks of a US creeping mission to Yemen. The elite soldiers on board the aircraft were “supporting Operation Inherent Resolve”, according to a US Department of Defence (DoD) press release on 30 August. It has since been taken down, although the following screen grab shows the original press release marked for immediate release: A subsequent press release sent […]

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Why did the US target Somali civilians hiding under banana trees?

On 25 August, the United States alongside Somali forces conducted a counterterrorism raid on a village near Baiire, southern Somalia – lower Shabelle region, in search of Al-Shabaab fighters associated with Al-Qaeda. The raid resulted in the killing and maiming of ten civilians including three children and women. The Al-Shabaab fighters were not at the village as they had been cleared out by Somali troops early in the same year. Only a few weapons were kept in the village to defend threats from a neighbouring clan, due to tensions based on tribal politics. In total, the village owned eight guns which were in storage at the time of the raid and one in operation for a watch-keeper. It was not […]

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Is Sudan about to withdraw troops from Yemen?

In June, Sudan sent additional troops to support the Saudi-led military intervention into Yemen. Exact numbers are not available but estimates and official briefings put the figure at close to 8,000 combat soldiers on the ground. In recent weeks reports of Sudanese casualties have increased with the Houthi media claiming that a ballistic missile launched towards Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Region killed “scores” of Sudanese soldiers days ago. MEMO was not able to confirm that the incident took place but what transpired is that the report is part of a blistering Houthi media drive aimed at discrediting the Sudanese and to force Khartoum and the Sudanese people to rethink their support for the Saudi-led offensive. In recent months, attacks on the […]

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