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Yemen

Conditions in Yemen have changed with the onset of the Arab Spring. Political unrest has created openings for the country’s established opposition movements – including al Qaeda – to maneuver for power. Whether the Arab Spring has brought real regime change in Yemen is unclear. While the international community awaits a fully functional government in the capital of Sana’a, al Qaeda may continue to expand its safe haven in the south. Learn more about the challenges in Yemen.

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Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate carried out coordinated suicide bombings on Thursday. The attacks could throw America’s counterterrorism policy there into crisis.

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The al Houthi siege on Sana’a on September 21 sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to the repartition of Yemen. The al Houthis, whether intentionally or not, have set Yemen on a path that puts the existence of an essential U.S. counterterrorism partner on the table.

 

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An armed Yemeni opposition group seized parts of the capital and pressured the Yemeni government to concede to a list of demands, including the resignation of the cabinet. These events underscore one of the many weaknesses of the so-called “Yemen model” this weekend.

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People look at damage caused by a bomb explosion near the house of Muslim Shi'ite Houthi leader Al-Murtadha Bin Zaid Al-Muhatwari in Sanaa July 12, 2014. No casualties were reported, according to police sources. Lawlessness in Yemen is a global concern as it is home to one of al Qaeda's most active wings.

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President Obama strategy’s against the Islamic State is based on what the U.S. is doing in Yemen, combining targeted airstrikes with support for a local partner, a counterterrorism strategy which Obama claims has been successful and has made the U.S. safer. Unfortunately, those claims are not accurate.

 

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Followers of the Shi'ite Houthi group wave their weapons as they gather at the group's camp near Sanaa September 10, 2014.

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President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight.

 

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Image Credit: By U.S Defense Department, Wikimedia Commons

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The United States needs Yemen to stay focused on defeating AQAP, but the charged atmosphere in the capital makes it possible for a seventh war to start with the al Houthis.

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For AQAP, any Sunni victory, even at the hands of a competitor, is a step in the right direction.

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Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen August 9, 2014.

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The horrific images and story of 14 murdered soldiers that came out of Yemen on August 8 pale in comparison to those coming from Iraq and Syria. Yet they may presage the emergence of a renewed threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that the U.S and Yemen are ill-prepared to handle.  

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President Obama says the United States is looking to its Yemen policy as a model for what to do in Iraq and Syria. But what the president labels the “Yemen model” has not been as successful as the White House claims; indeed, it is in danger of collapse.  

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Army soldiers are seen on a tank positioned outside Amran city, the capital of Amran province, north of Sanaa, amid tension with militants of the Shi'ite Houthi group, April 13, 2014. Fighters loyal to the Shi'ite tribe, who have repeatedly fought government forces since 2004, are trying to tighten their grip on the north as Yemen moves towards a federal system that gives more power to regional authorities.

7-second takeaway

While the Houthi battle against the state may appear a sideshow to many, the expansion of conflict with the Houthi to an area directly north of Yemen’s capital will likely draw on Yemen’s limited military, now the only significant forces fighting our shared enemy AQAP

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