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: Saudis invite al Houthis and Hadi government to Saudi Arabia for peace talks; Hadi government forces claim attacking al Houthis in Ma’rib governorate; Hadi government forces claim capturing part of Sa’ada governorate district; al Houthis announce prisoner exchange with Hadi government in al Hudaydah governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab claims assassination attempt on SNA general in southern Somalia; al Shabaab detonates IED killing Ethiopian AMISOM troops in southwestern Somalia; al Shabaab executes alleged spies in southern Somalia; UNSC extends mandate for Somali state-building assistance program
Yemen Security Brief:
A Saudi official stated that Saudi Arabia has invited the al Houthi movement and the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to peace talks in Saudi Arabia, according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The Saudi Ambassador to Yemen said that Saudi officials spoke with al Houthi militants on March 30 to clarify that the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on the Yemeni capital Sana’a on March 30 were in response to the al Houthi militants launching missiles toward the Saudi capital Riyadh on March 28. The ambassador also stated that Saudi officials hold daily talks with the al Houthi movement.
Saudi-backed Hadi government forces claimed attacking al Houthi militant sites in Sirwah district in Ma’rib governorate in northern Yemen on March 31, inflicting several casualties. Hadi government forces claimed capturing an al Houthi field commander in Sirwah district on March 29.
Saudi-backed Hadi government forces attacked al Houthi militant positions in al Safra district in Sa’ada governorate in northern Yemen on March 30, according to local sources. A Hadi government military official claimed that the Hadi government forces seized control of an area in al Safra district.
The al Houthi movement announced on March 29 that it exchanged prisoners with the Hadi government in al Hudaydah city in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen. The al Houthi militants and Hadi government agreed to a large-scale prisoner swap in mid-February, one of the key stipulations of the December 2018 UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
Al Shabaab claimed detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting Somalia’s Chief of Armed Forces, General Odawa Yusuf Rage, and his convoy near Janaale in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on March 31. The militant group claimed an unspecified number of Somali National Army (SNA) casualties, noting that Rage survived the assassination attempt. Al Shabaab has conducted a series of attacks targeting Somali forces near Janaale after the SNA captured the town from the militants in mid-March.
Al Shabaab detonated an IED targeting Ethiopian African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Garbaharey in southwestern Somalia’s Gedo region on March 31. The blast killed two AMISOM troops and wounded at least four others, including soldiers and civilians. Ethiopian troops not associated with AMISOM crossed into the Gedo region on March 22 for unknown reasons.
Al Shabaab released photos of its militants executing six men in Buale in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region on March 31. Al Shabaab accused the men of spying for the Kenyan, US, and Somali governments. Al Shabaab previously executed three alleged spies in Kamsuma in Somalia’s southwestern Lower Jubba region in late January.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously on March 30 to extend the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia’s (UNSOM) mandate until June 30. UNSOM’s mandate was scheduled to end on March 31. The UNSC established UNSOM in 2013 to provide peacebuilding and state-building assistance to the Somali Federal Government and AMISOM.
 Warren P. Strobel, “Saudi Arabia Invites Houthi Rebels to Talks in Riyadh,” Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-invites-houthi-rebels-to-talks-in-riyadh-11585616096; “Saudi Ambassador to Yemen: Riyadh holds daily talks with al Houthis,” Al Jazeera, March 31, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2020/3/31/سفير-السعودية-باليمن-الرياض-تجري-محادثات-يومية-مع-الحوثيين; and Jessica Kocan and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 30, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 30, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-30-2020.
 “Video: Army Forces on Outskirts of Sirwah Market and Painful Artillery Strikes,” Mareb Press, March 31, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=162261; and Jessica Kocan and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 30, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 30, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-30-2020.
 “National Army Controls New Sites in Sa’ada,” Mareb Press, March 31, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=162245.
 “Al Houthis announce exchange of prionsers with government forces,” Mareb Press, March 31, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=162249; and Jessica Kocan, “Yemen File: AQAP Emir Rallies Group Under New Leadership Before Plotting External Attacks,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 9, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/yemen-file/AQAP-Emir-Rallies-Group-Under-New-Leadership.
 Mohammed Dhaysane, “2 Ethiopian soldiers killed in Somalia blast,” Anadolu Agency, March 31, 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/2-ethiopian-soldiers-killed-in-somalia-blast/1786435; and Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 23, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 23, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-23-2020.
 Mohamed Moalimuu, Twitter, March 31, 2020, https://twitter.com/MOALIMUU/status/1244976720249335809; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 27, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 27, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-january-27-2020.
 Edith M. Lederer, “UN adopts 4 resolutions, voting by email because of COVID-19,” Associated Press, March 31, 2020, https://apnews.com/d278fe770d78c1e46b6759e31eedfc48.