Recipe for failure: American strategy toward Yemen and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

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Anti-government protesters arrive in Sana'a, Yemen on Jan. 8, 2012.

Executive Summary

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) poses the greatest direct threat to the United States out of all the al Qaeda franchises. AQAP has benefited from a year of unrest in Yemen that has weakened the central state and hindered counter-terrorism operations there. AQAP’s affiliated local fighters have gained control over important parts of south Yemen greatly increasing AQAP’s ability to operate. American strategy in Yemen has pursued two tracks to date. The overarching approach is to facilitate the establishment of a stable government in control of a unitary Yemeni state that is willing and able to combat AQAP. In the meantime, direct action operations against AQAP leaders are meant to disrupt the organization and mitigate the challenges posed by the delay in forming an effective and willing counter-terrorism partner in Yemen. Both tracks have been affected by the insecurity resulting from the Arab Spring’s arrival in Yemen in early 2011, which stopped the implementation of many military and non-military programs supporting the counter-terrorism strategy. It is far from clear that the current American strategy toward Yemen and AQAP can succeed.

Please read the full text at the Critical Threats Project.

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About the Author

 

Katherine
Zimmerman
  • Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst and the al Qaeda and Associated Movements Team Lead for the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. Her work has focused on al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Gulf of Aden region and associated movements in western and northern Africa. She specializes in the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab. Katherine has testified in front of Congress and briefed Members and congressional staff, as well as members of the defense community. She has written analyses of U.S. national security interests related to the threat from the al Qaeda network for the Weekly Standard, National Review Online, and the Huffington Post, among others. Katherine graduated with distinction from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science and Modern Middle East Studies.


     


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    Email: katherine.zimmerman@aei.org

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