Yemen's pivotal moment

Reuters

A pro-democracy demonstrator shouts slogans during a celebration to mark the anniversary of an uprising against the regime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa February 11, 2014. (Reuters)

Article Highlights

  • Syria, Iran, and other foreign policy issues are distracting the US and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen.

    Tweet This

  • Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate remains active and will continue to exploit the security conditions in the country.

    Tweet This

  • There is a very real danger that should Yemen falter, AQAP will once again seek to expand.

    Tweet This

Executive Summary

Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.

  • Yemen concluded a national dialogue in January 2014 that served as a forum for factions to debate key issues and eventually provide a set of recommendations for reform based on consensus. These recommendations still need to be implemented, and key powerbrokers still have the opportunity to inhibit progress.
  • The al Houthis, an armed movement in the north reportedly supported by Iran, created a statelet in Yemen as the central state collapsed in 2011. They participated in the political process, but have withdrawn in protest. They have also expanded from Sa'ada government into the neighboring areas, at times violently, and it is not clear that they will cede authority to the central state.
  • Certain factions from Yemen's fractious Southern Movement participated in the political process, but nearly all have backed away from supporting the six-region federal state. Some leaders have called supporters to arms and are renewing calls for secession.
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has the capability and the intent to conduct attacks against American interests abroad. It is targeting Yemeni military sites and personnel, and has benefited from political fallout over civilian deaths in drone strikes. A ruthless December 2013 attack in Sana'a caused public backlash, and the group issued a rare apology for the deaths of civilians.

 

Please read the full report at The Critical Threats Project.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Katherine
Zimmerman

What's new on AEI

To secure southern border, US must lead international effort to stabilize Central America
image The Ryan pro-work, anti-poverty plan: Thomas Aquinas 1, Ayn Rand 0
image Does SNAP support work? Yes and no
image Obama Democrats lose their big bet on health exchanges
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.